He Is Who We Thought He Was: End of Story!

It’s time to Break It Down!

In June 2015, Donald J. Trump burst on the scene as a GOP Presidential candidate that few people gave much of a chance to survive the first primary, much less become the venerable Party’s nominee, and certainly few if any expected him to advance to assume the mantel of the presidency. Trump has a long history of prominence as a businessman. But for more than two years now, his forays in the headlines of the national news, or as he frequently says, the fake news, have come primarily as a politician.

Allow me to pivot for a moment. I have read and watched news for most of my life. As a matter of fact, before I began school, my mother taught me to read using the local newspaper. So, I have maintained a nearly life-long, almost six decades, relationship with news periodicals and TV newscasts. I say all that to underscore that from 2009 to 2016, I saw President Obama castigated regularly in news reports almost every day, and called virtually every negative appellation that his detractors could think of and say.

Returning to the moment, I notice that newscasters on most networks are careful to avoid calling Mr. Trump a liar. When there are Trump supporters on the shows, who are either asked questions about Trump’s truthfulness, or are engaged by someone who has the temerity to actually call Mr. Trump a liar, falsifier, or even some less direct euphemism, they quickly push back arguing neither they, nor the “offender,” knows what is in Mr. Trump’s heart, and they insist that it is therefore unfair, and out of bounds to call him a liar. In those instances, when it is flatly impossible to divest him of having spoken untruths, they persist in noting that to lie, one must not only make a false statement, but one also must do so with the deliberate intent to deceive. With that distinction in mind, I don’t know what is in Trump’s heart. What I do know is he speaks untruths on what intrinsically seems like a historic rate.

To put that in terms that have been captured and catalogued, The New York Times (NYT), on June 21st, published an updated list of what the headline characterized as, “Trumps Lies.” Mr. Trump uttered each of the items on the list after he took office. To be clear, those are the words of the NYT. I’m confident they researched and lawyered the list before publishing it. Here is an abridged sampling:

That’s just a baker’s dozen listing of the president’s lying, misleading, and deceptive statements…all since he has become President of the United States of America. But let’s not forget, his political emergence was fueled by a lie; the assertion that Barack Obama was not born in America. I have long maintained he is methodically working to establish a framework in which facts, truth, and even reality is irrelevant. According to the NYT story, Trump lied publicly at least 20 of his first 40 days in office, and made untrue statements for the first 40 days.

Now, allow me to shift gears. If the L-Word (lie) has been discouraged like crosses at a vampire family dinner, the pretend horror and feigned personal offense taken by conservatives about the ubiquitous R-Word (that’s racist, just so we are clear), when referring to Trump, and his Executive Office associates, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, is so great, one would think Obamacare was still the law of the land. Oh wait. It is!

As most of us know, there was a small gathering this weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Jason Kessler, a self-described “pro-white” activist organized a rally to protest taking down a statue of General Robert E. Lee in the City of Charlottesville. Lee commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. To put that in the least complex terms possible, he was a key figure in a war…against the USA. His aforementioned surrender was important for one reason in particular. It meant his side lost!

Saturday’s rally was preceded on Friday night by a group of Tiki-torch carrying members of the above referenced activists who marched across the campus of the University of Virginia. The symbolic scene was reminiscent of Klansmen carrying torches and burning crosses.

By Saturday as the crowd assembled for the protest, the group consisted of the KKK, neo-Nazis, members of the Alt-right, and other white supremacists, or as they frequently euphemistically refer to themselves, white nationalists, many of them armed with long rifles and other weapons, shields, helmets, and other paramilitary gear. To paraphrase Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, they were better armed than our State Police.

The good news is, the available weaponry on hand notwithstanding, neither the protesters, nor members of law enforcement fired a single shot. I did not hear, read, or see that any of the counter protesters bore firearms. However, that was not where the story ended. The bad news is an individual described as a Nazi sympathizer weaponized his vehicle, crashed it into other vehicles, then backed up, and in the process, killed Heather Heyer of Charlottesville, and injured 19 people. In addition to Ms. Heyer’s untimely death, two state troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, VA, and Trooper-Pilot Berka M.M. Bates, of Quinton, VA, perished when their helicopter crashed while they were monitoring the events of the protest.

After these events Saturday, Trump spoke about the matter. He squeezed his remarks into a speech meant to be part of signing a Veteran’s bill expanding a program to allow veterans to seek private medical care. In perhaps the kindest thing he has said about former President Obama since he has taken office, he indemnified Obama, in a backhanded way, by conceding that the hatred and bigotry preceded both he and Obama. He went on to make a false equivalency, lamenting the actions that occurred on “many sides:”

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.

It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long time.”

Trump failed to mention the display of white supremacy or Nazi symbols in Charlottesville Saturday. His omission led to considerable pushback among both Democrats and Republicans. It’s not an overstatement to say his lack of citing the racist elements that fueled the events was the top story of the weekend. If anything competed with Trump’s own billing, it was that of input from former KKK leader David Duke, who articulated he was pleased with the protest because it made clear that Donald Trump’s promise to “Take back our country,” will be fulfilled. He also tweeted a poignant reminder to Mr. Trump:

“I would recommend you take a look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

That’s a sobering show of force from a member of Team Trump’s base. Alternately, there was an unquestionable expression of disappointment by numerous Republicans. For a brief time Monday, it actually appeared that the disconnect in his Party may have resonated with the president, and forced him into reflection mode. So much so, that Monday Donald Trump rendered a second statement, one in which he pointedly addressed the role of the negative and racist factions. For one day, he submitted to the influence of better angels…and a lot of concerned Republicans. He stated the following:

“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

This head spinning about-face did not sit well with much of Trump’s base, and ultimately, not with him. Numerous reports noted that Monday’s more fulsome statement seemed scripted and forced. More than a few observers concluded, his heart did not appear to be in it.

Well, much like a weather vane, if one waits a moment, in this case a day, Trump’s point of view and position on the matter changed again. Tuesday at Trump Tower, he came out with a copy of his Saturday comments in his pocket, and he went full-fledged reverse as he delivered statement number three on the subject. He had this, among other things, to say at that time:

“I think there is blame on both sides. What about the Alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the Alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.

You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now.”

So there you have it. At one point he drew a fake comparison; at another point he maintained there was a moral equivalency between the purveyors of historical racist and bigoted practices, and those who have been historically oppressed and victimized by such behavior. How can one square that? Well, friends and neighbors, for me, it’s pretty simple. When it comes to Donald J. Trump, just as with the issue of whether he is a compulsive liar, there are those who passionately defend him, and insist that he is not. When it comes to the question of whether he is a confirmed racist, I’m sure the same holds true. You can imagine how his acolytes respond to the compound question, is he a megalomaniacal compulsive liar, who is also a confirmed racist?

You already know…”He Is Who We Thought He Was: End of Story!” It’s really just that simple.

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.

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Reversal of Fortunes: Governor Dumps Party, Senator Balks at Party Line

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last week I examined Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s op-ed for Politico Magazine, in which he in effect, took on what has become the GOP Party orthodoxy under #45. Flake’s unexpected revelation of conscience, not coincidentally, coincided with the release of his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative.” The timing of Senator Flake’s rebellion was somewhat ironic in that it followed a week in which his fellow Arizona Senator, John McCain, also rebuffed the President and his Party’s hard driving initiative to pass the so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare by the Senate.

In the normal course of human events, it is all but certain that what goes around, comes around. Often this happens sooner rather than later, certainly quicker than we might expect. This…is one of those times. On last Thursday, at a Trump Rally in Huntington, West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced his plans to switch his affiliation to the Republican Party. Three days later, Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday that he would not be toeing the party line on every issue. Just like that, the Grand Canyon State and the Mountain State completed a game of political musical chairs in a matter of ten days.

At last Thursday’s rally, Governor Justice had this to say:

“Today I will tell you as West Virginians, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor, So tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican.”

This isn’t Justice’s first rodeo when it comes to switching parties. He was previously an independent and a Republican up until 2015 when he ran for governor as a Democrat. It is likely this move signals a bigger shift in the state’s political landscape. In Governor Justice’s latest State of the State address, he mentioned Trump five times, and noted his good friendship with the Trump family.

Like Trump, Justice is a billionaire who ran for election as a newcomer to politics, and was elected in November 2016. During his campaign, he took pains to show he was no fan of Clinton. “I cannot be a supporter of Hillary Clinton,” Justice told a West Virginia radio station last August.

After Justice moves across the aisle as reported, the GOP Governorship advantage over Democrats will increase to 34 to 15. Governor Bill Walker of Alaska is a registered Independent.

Although Senator Manchin did not switch parties, he made a much more, shall we say, colorful statement. In his Sunday comments to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, he said:

“I don’t give a s–t, you understand? I just don’t give a s–t. Don’t care if I get elected, don’t care if I get defeated, how about that? If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for s–t that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy. I’m not scared of an election, let’s put it that way. Elections do not bother me or scare me.

The bottom line is, if it doesn’t help West Virginia, it doesn’t make sense to me, and just because there’s an election doesn’t mean I sign on or don’t sign on.”

Interestingly, while Justice’s action preceded Manchin’s, the Senator not only didn’t switch parties, he took the occasion of making a statement on the Governor’s move to indicate that he intends to continue to remain in the Democratic Party. At that time he said in a prepared statement:

“I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat. I am disappointed by Gov. Justice’s decision to switch parties. While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia.”

Senator Manchin is up for re-election in 2018. With Justice’s move, Manchin will become West Virginia’s only statewide elected Democrat besides treasurer John Perdue.

Let’s just say, if it’s not already clear, Donald Trump carried West Virginia by almost infinity, in electoral math terms, 67.9 to 26.2, or 41.7 percentage points. Rewind back to the Arizona results, and the difference is stark. Trump still won, but only by a margin of 48.1 to 44.6, or 3.5 percentage points. While that’s not exactly a cliffhanger, when compared to the West Virginia results, it was obviously close enough to embolden McCain and Flake to rebel, whereas, Justice and Manchin are figuratively praying at the altar of Trump. In fairness, Senator McCain has developed a reputation as a Party Maverick. Still, if Trump’s success in his state mirrored that of the Mountain State, chances are McCain and Flake would be considerably more reserved in their Party pushback.

The point of this post was primarily to point out how quickly the McCain-Flake incidents boomeranged to give us the Justice-Manchin decision and comments. However, another notion I would like to advance and leave with you, especially if you read last week’s action as a sign of the beginning of the end for TrumpWorld, by all means, slow your roll. I closed last week with a reminder of my assessment that Trump-Pence will be around for a while, and at least for the foreseeable future.

I understand why it’s tempting to doubt that. There are a number of investigations, engendering enough smoke to suggest there’s a legitimate fire in our midst. And there may in fact be some fire out there. We’ll see soon enough. In the interim, just keep these sobering data points in mind:

  • The GOP holds a 34-15 advantage in Governorships.
  • The GOP holds a 241-194 advantage in House Members
  • The GOP holds a 52-48 advantage in the Senate (Including Independents who caucus with Democrats)
  • The GOP controls both legislative chambers in 32 states
  • The GOP controls 67 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers
  • Trump won 2,622 Counties – Clinton won 490 Counties
  • Since the election of Barack Obama in 2009, Democrats have lost 919 seats in state legislatures

Those are numbers that should spark grave concern by anyone who leans toward the ideals fostered and supported by Democrats, unless, of course, you subscribe to Trumpist philosophy and just deem it all to be fake news. I assure you, it’s the “realest.” Sad, very sad. And with that I give youReversal of Fortunes: Governor Dumps Party, Senator Balks at Party Line!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Newsflash: Four GOP Senators Do/Say The Right Thing

It’s time to Break It Down!

For the past 6 and half months, #45 has been the principal resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia. For more than a year and a half before that, he was a candidate for the highest political office in the world. During that entire period, more than 2 years total, he and his supporters, surrogates, and spinners have actively engaged in moving the goal posts with regard to facts, truth, and even science.

Time after time over the past couple of years I have engaged individuals in conversation that firmly believe that just as he says he’s going to, Trump is indeed, Making America Great Again. Right out of the gate, I concede I am among the first to admit, I sincerely doubt that, it is not just that overarching claim that repulses me, it is the methodical underlying narratives that I find so vexing.

His surrogates and spinners have constructed a pair of cutesy phrases to explain Team Trump’s bogus propositions, and to otherwise defend the ruses that reflect the schemes and conspiracy theories they love to promote…all apparently designed to deflect attention from the many preposterous positions and actions this administration has taken. The two terms I referenced above, fake news and alternative facts, are the exclamation points his acolytes use to attenuate and downgrade any political or policy arguments that do not align with Trumpology.

Until recently, despite the frequency and volume of instances which reason would ordinarily dictate a pause is in order, Team Trump’s position has been to soldier on despite facts, despite science, and sadly, despite countervailing truth. Alas, slowly, but surely, there may just be a glimmer of hope. Last week, in the face of a full court press by the Trump Administration, the GOP Senate leadership, and the vast majority of its rank and file members, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and John McCain (R-Arizona) joined forces to create what journalists deemed a dramatic moment in the U.S. Senate.

This trio of Republicans pushed back against conservative GOP orthodoxy and joined with the Senate’s 48 Democrats to prevent passage of what was euphemistically called the skinny repeal of Obamacare, a cynical bit of legislation that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to squeeze through in the middle of the night without significant debate or review. The bill was ultimately voted down after 1:00 a.m. last Friday morning.

Senator McCain, noted as a maverick in his Party, came back to Washington 11 days after surgery to remove a blood clot during which it was determined he had a brain tumor known as a glioblastoma. In his initial vote after returning, he voted to allow the skinny repeal to be debated. In doing so, he gave a speech that seemed to presage his eventual vote on the actual bill. At least, that’s how it turned out. McCain cast the pivotal vote, and has garnered much of the resulting attention for dealing the ultimate death knell to the bill. Yet, Collins and Murkowski merit equal billing for their late night and early morning work. Had any one of the three defected, the 49-51 vote would have been 50-50, and Vice President Pence would have cast the deciding vote to push the bill over the top.

So, fast-forward to this week. This past Monday, a politician wrote in an op-ed for Politico Magazine. In the piece he said:

“To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties, and tremendous powers of denial.”

Absent any inside baseball knowledge about the above referenced op-ed, especially given the preamble about Team Trump talking points, a logical conclusion is that, at the very least, the op-ed writer is a Democrat. However, that was not the case. In fact, said writer is not only a politician, but also a Republican politician. Moreover, he is a U.S. Senator.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) penned the op-ed. It was essentially an essay, excerpted from his new book, entitled, “Conscience of a Conservative,” released yesterday. In it, he argues that the GOP was responsible for making Trump a phenomenon of national proportion when it opted to vehemently oppose President Obama at every turn. Flake stated expressly:

“It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us.”

I have argued relentlessly that the impetus for the largely otherwise inexplicable Trump love fest is the raging anti-Obama sentiment held by a key political and ideological segment of the country. I believe without question, there were a number of issues that contributed to the Trump victory, including Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, Wikileaks, James Comey, and Russia. None of them, however, in my opinion, was more impactful that the 8 years of GOP inspired and executed anti-Obama tactics and strategies. Even today, more than half a year into the Trump era, it is common for his supporters to hearken back to President Obama as a standard point of deflection for spates of contemporary Trump Madness. Flake’s op-ed/essay underscores my argument in spades, as he states the following:

“But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president – the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued.”

In another passage, Senator Flake quotes conservative columnist, Michael Gerson, who wrote in May:

“The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and conservative institutions “with the blessings of a president…have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.”

On many occasions I have explained in minute detail the numerous reasons why I think Trump Season will last at least 4 years, and not inconceivably 8 years. While the actions of these four Senators do not raise my level of optimism for a shortened term, I have allowed myself to hope for an elevated level of accountability. We will see.

So remember, while it’s uncertain whether these actions will permanently change the course of history, they are important. Better than that, they just mightNewsflash: Four GOP Senators Do/Say The Right Thing!”

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.

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