He Said He Would Never…But He Did!

It’s time to Break It Down!

So yesterday, the 45th President of the United States did what he does best. He tweeted. In a gesture designed both to presage a failed meeting, and to set up Democrats Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as the foils for said failed meeting, #45 tweeted:

“Meeting with “Chuck and Nancy” today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!”

9:17 AM – Nov 28, 2017

32,427 Replies   17,266 Retweets   68,491 Likes

Schumer and Pelosi got the message loud and clear. Left with a decision of whether to attend an “Apprentice” inspired show meeting that Trump had already advertised would not result in a deal, they opted out. They issued the following statement:

“Rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement, we have asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, to meet later today.

We don’t have any time to waste in addressing the issues that confront us, so we’re going to continue to negotiate with Republican leaders who may be interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement. If the President, who already said earlier this year that ‘our country needs a good shutdown,’ isn’t interested in addressing the difficult year-end agenda, we’ll work with those Republicans who are, as we did in April.”

After making the statement, Pelosi issued a tweet of her own, echoing the message framed and conveyed in her joint statement with Schumer. She tweeted:

“We look forward to continuing to work in good faith, as we have been for the last month, with our Republican colleagues in Congress to do just that.”

11:37 AM – Nov 28, 2017

159 Replies   459 Retweets   2,270 Likes

By this time, as you might imagine, it was on! White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the Democratic leaders’ decision “disappointing.” She noted the president’s invitation was still open, and suggested the Dems get over themselves, or as she put it, “their pettiness,” stop their political grandstanding, and show up for work. For emphasis, she noted, “These issues are too important.”

In their GOP joint dueling counter-statement, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Ryan slammed the Dems. They accused Schumer and Pelosi of “putting government operations, particularly resources for our men and women on the battlefield, at great risk by pulling these antics.” They went on to add:

“We have important work to do, and Democratic leaders have continually found new excuses not to meet with the administration to discuss these issues. There is a meeting at the White House this afternoon, and if Democrats want to reach an agreement, they will be there.”

The backdrop for this high drama and political thrusting and parrying is Congress is staring head-on at a December 8th deadline to pass legislation that will avert a government shutdown, as well as settling numerous other pieces of unfinished business. The administration and the GOP hoped the White House meeting might lay a foundation to keep the government running and set a path for a year-end spending package to give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies relief from a pending budget freeze, which is set to occur unless a deal is brokered.

With all that on the line, it’s no surprise the Republicans took every opportunity to pile on in an effort to frame the narrative as one in which, if for some reason there is a government shutdown, it is the Dems who are responsible. Given that virtually all of the shutdowns in recent memory have been organized and executed courtesy of the GOP (non of which have been popular with We The People), the GOP wants to get ahead of the story…just in case.

In that light, it isn’t surprising that Senator McConnell went for the jugular, plunging a rhetorical shiv straight into the heart of the Democrats’ tactics. To wit, the Senior Senator from the Bluegrass State doubled-down on the hype, asserting that he would never have skipped a meeting with the President when Barack Obama was in office. In his most haughty Old Kentucky drawl, he said:

“I never refused to go to a meeting that President Obama called, a bipartisan meeting. It never occurred to me that I could just say to President Obama ‘I’m not showing up.’ That strikes me as a lack of seriousness about the matter before us, which is the funding of the federal government of the United States for the rest of this fiscal year.”

There’s only one problem. He did exactly that! Not only did the notion occur to the venerable Senator, he acted on, and fully executed the stratagem. In November 2010, President Obama organized a bipartisan dinner. McConnell opted out, and instead spent the evening with the Federalist Society. His ideological co-pilot at the time, then Speaker of the House John Boehner, also skipped the dinner.

What was the topic of this meeting, that McConnell, like so many other Republicans in the Trump era (Think General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump, Jr., Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Jared Kushner, and of course, Donald J. Trump) contracted amnesia?

The extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.

Isn’t that ironic? Republicans skipped a meeting on taxes. To put it in words Senator McConnell would almost certainly understand, “That strikes me as a lack of seriousness about the matters before us.”

Let’s not forget, it was during that same time frame that McConnell proffered the notion that the single most important thing the Republican Party wanted to achieve was to make Barack Obama a one-term President. That didn’t work out so well. Nevertheless, Donald Trump is President now. Naturally this brouhaha would not be complete without a Trump flourish at the end. Speaking about Schumer and Pelosi, the Presidential benediction on the matter went like this:

“They decided not to show up. They’ve been all talk. They’ve been no action. And now it’s even worse. Now, it’s not even talk.”

Yeah, OK, whateva. Since the dawn of the Trump era, the Grand Old Party has become a haven for alternative facts, characterizing news as fake, and dispensing daily “liberal” (pun intended) doses of the theater of the absurd. That the Senate Majority leader would go out like that is, well, just another day, like so many that preceded it, a.k.a. SOSDD. Yes, “He Said He Would Never…But He Did!”

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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A Time For Thanks Redux ’17

It’s time to Break It Down!

Originally posted on November 24, 2010, and prior to today, subsequently on November 27, 2013, November 26, 2014, November 25, 2015, and November 23, 2016.

As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules (in some cases impeded by weather events this year), meal planning, family time, shopping, football, parades, and if there is any time remaining, relaxation, will be the dominant theme this week. However, it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog and it will definitely be brief.

Those among us who have perfected humility, and ascended to a genuine Nirvana state, have no doubt also elevated giving thanks to an art form. The rest of us must fully invest our appreciation in the notion, “That’s why we have Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, which kicks off what we commonly refer to as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Yet, there is so much more than that to the Season.

Over the next 54 days, many of us will enjoy succulent feasting at Thanksgiving, exchange gifts and contribute to the needy during Hanukkah. We will buy, give, exchange, and/or receive gifts at Christmas, eat, drink, and celebrate the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, and party and toast the dawn of 2017 on New Year’s Day. We will honor the life and works of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough (though improving) economic times, this weekend, millions of Americans will pay (literally) homage to our most celebrated of shoppers’ holiday weekends, Black FridaySmall Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, by rising early, and proceeding to scour the aisles for those perfect gifts…and if not perfect, at least cheap, relatively speaking. There are even some precociously enterprising businesses that will start the shopping clock Thursday. Sigh!

In past years, I have recounted my reasons for being thankful. This year I find that I have more reasons than ever to sit contemplatively in humble repose, and affirm boldly, that I know, without caveat, not only the goodness, no the greatness of God, but also of his inestimable and inexhaustible beneficence. I thank Him for deliverance, and for imbuing me with the sense and sensibility to discern the distinction between kairos and chronos, Greek concepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively. In this the Year of our Lord and Savior, 2017, a.k.a. Year 1 A.D. (After Donald), I have been reminded, God really does have a sense of humor. In accordance, I thank him dearly and daily for Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and SNL. Amen!

Eons ago, when I was a college student, I pledged a fraternity. It is familiarly known as the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest, but I digress. The point of this reference is that during the erstwhile pledge process, as prospective initiates, we were required to learn a number of poems. There were many, each selected to convey a specific life lesson. Many of them have stayed with me, but none more than Invictus, written by English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). The Latin translation for Invictus is Undefeated. You may recall it, but just in case, see it below:

Invictus (Latin for Undefeated) By William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

So, as you go about your way tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow, recognize that Thanksgiving, at its core, is not simply a day on the calendar. It is a spirit that dwells within each of us, an impulse that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and for the graciousness to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, everyday is “A Time for Giving Thanks Redux ’17!”

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.”

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Jeff Beau: The Evolution of Truth

“Break It Down!”

This won’t take long.

So I was watching the House of Representatives hearings yesterday, featuring Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III. The House has been anxious to speak with the AG, or General, as many of the House members seemed wont to call him over the course of the hearings. As one news service put it, it was a tale of two hearings.

The customary parade of alternate questioning, first Republicans, the majority, and thus controlling Party, then Democrats queried the Administration’s top lawyer, praising him (GOP), then, pressing him…to defend his veracity (Democrats). It was quite a display; one that has come to epitomize the divide that too often separates our country.

Three distinct observations from the hearings captured my attention. In full disclosure, all three were exchanges with Democrats. From my vantage point, they were the only ones really committed to press the “General” on his consistency, or lack thereof, with regard to the truthfulness of his testimony, past and present.

  1. Representative Cedric Richmond, LA, got to the heart of the matter, early, vis-a-vis zoning in on the distinction in the way the 1980’s crack epidemic was treated, versus the way the contemporary opioid epidemic is being handled. He preceded that query with questions about the number of African Americans on Sessions’ staff (none), the number of African Americans appointed as Federal Judges (one), and the number of African American Heads of regional FBI offices (he couldn’t answer, which likely translates to none).
  2. Representative Ted Lieu, CA, engaged “General” Sessions” in a lively exchange. Rep. Lieu inquired of Sessions how many interactions he’d head with Russian Government official, and former Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. After the “General enumerated several meetings (which in earlier testimony he failed to remember and/or report), the Congressman said: “What you just told us under oath was exactly the opposite. So I’m going to ask you, Mr. Sessions, were you lying then when you filled out the form, or are you lying now?” At a later point, Lieu asked, “You did have communications with the Russians last year; isn’t that right? Sessions answered, I had a meeting with the Russian Ambassador; yes. To which Lieu responded, “Again, either you’re lying to the U.S. Senate or you’re lying to the U.S. House of Representatives.” Talk about not pulling any punches, that was a seminar in how to be direct.
  3. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, NY, posed several questions right off the bat, including: At the Senate Judiciary Committee in October, you stated under oath, I don’t recall, in some form of fashion 29 times; is that correct? Sessions had no idea. He further queried, at the Senate Intelligence Committee, in June, you stated under oath, I don’t recall, in some form or fashion 36 times; is that correct? He did not know. Jeffries went on, asking, in today’s hearing, you’ve said I don’t recall at least 20 times; is that fair to say? He had no idea. Keep in mind, it was the very same day, and Sessions had no idea…under oath! Jeffries, however, was not through. He cited an interview with Lou Dobbs, October 4, 2016 in which Sessions criticized Hillary Clinton for telling FBI investigators “I can’t remember,” approximately 35 times. Moreover, he noted Sessions told Dobbs that the intentional failure to remember could constitute perjury. He then asked the “General,” Do you still believe the intentional failure to remember can constitute a criminal act? Sessions testily replied that he did, and charged Jeffries with being “unfair.” Jeffries also cited a 1999 speech Sessions made during (unsuccessful) Senate hearings to oust Bill Clinton from office after the House voted to impeach him, December 19, 1998. He noted an anecdote Sessions shared with Dobbs about a police officer he prosecuted, after the officer had testified, then amended his testimony. In essence, he prosecuted him for failing to remember, which he imputed was perjury. He went on to note the President should get no more leeway than that police officer, as perjury was one of the two counts against Clinton. To wrap it all up and put a neat little bow on it, he closed by noting Sessions has amended, corrected, or clarified his testimony on numerous occasions. The implication was, according to Sessions’ previously used rationale, he perjured himself.

And he did it all while returning unused time to the Chair, which was no mean feat, considering he had only 5 minutes to query and elicit responses. Nicely played!

By the way, Sessions is quite adept at buying time…by saying he doesn’t understand the question, by asking could you repeat the question, and by giving run-on responses that do not answer questions. This serves two purposes. It benefits him and detracts from the questioner’s objective to secure answers. It allows him to dissemble, but more importantly, it fills the questioners’ (especially Democrats) 5 allocated minutes with empty space, which limits the number of questions they can ask, and the degree to which he will actually have to answer questions posed.

Sheer genius. It’s also evil, but definitely genius, nonetheless. I know there is a great desire on all sides for this entire Russia madness to end. I’m no seer, but I have a feeling Sir Winston Churchill nailed this one with his famous quote:

“This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is just, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

So, until next time, I leave you with, Jeff Beau: The Evolution of Truth!”

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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Terror In Texas: Punctuating A Tough Week

Break It Down!

Last week I wrote a post about Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbek national, who allegedly killed 8 people and wounded 13 others along a bike path next to the Hudson River in New York City. I entitled the post, “New York City: Terror on the Hudson!” That title was apt, of course, not only because Saipov’s actions terrified the New Yorkers he surprised by attacking, but because they met the accepted definition of terrorism, U.S.A. style.

Four weeks prior to that post, I blogged about Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, a 64-year-old American who opened fire from the 32nd floor of his Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, killing 58, and injuring 527. Paddock used several semi-automatic weapons, at least some of which he altered to fire like automatics. From his high perch, he fired several hundred yards across Las Vegas Boulevard as singer Jason Aldean was in the midst of his closing performance at an outdoor music festival. As noted at the time, Paddock’s assault culminated in what is considered the deadliest of it’s kind in American history, displacing the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting at the Pulse Night Club. I entitled the post, “Nightmare in Las Vegas: Another Episode of American Gun Violence!”

There were roughly four weeks between the Vegas and New York attacks, only five days between New York and Sutherland Springs. That’s right, less than a week after the country’s collective emotions were roiled by the New York City attack, the largest in New York since 9/11, we were caught up in another horrific firearms assault. Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old Texan, entered First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX, and began firing, killing 26, and wounding 20 others. The point in elevating the time between incidents is not to suggest an increase in frequency.

In fact, there have actually been almost as many mass shootings (where four of more people, not including the instigator are shot) as there have been days this year. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit organization that documents gun violence and gun crime nationally, a total of 307 mass shooting incidents occurred this year, as of November 5, 2017, the 309th day of the year. By comparison, there were 483 mass shootings in 2016. See statistics for other years here.

So, the point of the time spans between Las Vegas, New York, and Sutherland Springs is not the aspect I wish to highlight. The point of emphasis is one I mentioned in the Pollard/Las Vegas post. The killing of any person by another is unfortunate. The degree of misfortune is even greater when political theater seeps into the situation. A quick look at these three incidents reveals that they are viewed in starkly different lights. This appears to be especially true in the case of President Trump. Now, I’ve already stipulated, any killing is bad. By logical extrapolation, mass killings are even worse.

When faced with responding to 585 casualties in Las Vegas, 58 of them deaths, the President concluded that the perpetrator was a sick and demented man. When he had to address the 46 casualties in Sutherland Springs, 26 of them deaths, Mr. Trump said the issue is a mental health problem, not a gun problem. Absent any other element of context, I think I could at least try to take those responses at face value.

However, when I juxtapose Saipov’s attack, which did not include a real firearm, and resulted in fewer deaths than Paddock’s or Kelley’s episodes, and then consider the Trump response, which was, in effect, “He’s an animal,” and “I would consider sending him to Guantanamo,” I am mindful of the political dynamics associated with how our country in general, and our President in particular, deal with attacks differently, based on a political agenda, and, dare I say, race, ethnicity, and religion.

Allow me to cut to the chase. When a guy, even one who happens to be American and white, assembles an arsenal, and uses it to systematically murder 58 people and wound 527 others…in America, he has exacted terrorism on the victims, and upon our country as a whole. The same thing applies to an American, even one who happens to be white, who enters a House of Worship and mows down 26 people, several of them children/infants. The individuals who conducted themselves in this manner committed terrorist acts when they conducted those assaults.

Our President likes to characterize himself as a counterpuncher. Undoubtedly, there are occasions when what he does can be accurately described as returning fire against someone who has personally attacked him. But there are also instances in which his attacks are designed and scripted for political reasons and effect.

To say in one breath that our justice system is a laughing stock, and moves slowly, but then in the next breath that he might send/support sending Saipov to Guantanamo, is not only political, aimed at stirring up his base, but a classic case of being ridiculously inconsistent, and also counterproductive, based upon his own stated objectives. The justice system has been incredibly effective at dealing with terrorists. It has an over 90% conviction rate. However, Mr. Trump’s budget would take millions of dollars away from the justice department’s terrorism fighting initiatives. Moreover, for all his railing about how slow the justice system works, Guantanamo moves at a snail’s pace, by comparison. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, principal mastermind behind the atrocities of 9/11 resides there, still not having been tried.

Trump’s propensity to diminish the heinous acts of American mass murderers, relatively speaking, while demonizing Muslims for their acts of terror is likely a manifestation of his America First mantra, and a key plank in his quest to Make America Great Again. It probably does bolster his support with his base. I won’t use this space to assess their various motivations. At least I will not do so today. Suffice it to say, however, If Trump and his acolytes used nearly as much energy to figure out ways to decrease the volume of gun violence in this country, as they do when a terrorist act occurs at home or abroad, I believe our domestic tranquility would increase dramatically. He joined the classic GOP refrain after the Vegas incident, claiming that was not the time to dwell on guns. After Sunday’s Texas shooting, he offered thoughts and prayers, but declared the matter not a gun problem.

The way things are shaping up, it’s almost as though, as long as angry, or “ill” white men are using guns to commit mass murder here in America, we are sworn to recognize some sort of non-intervention manifesto. Ergo, here we are, recovering from another tragedy…Terror in Texas: Punctuating A Tough Week!”

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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have-occurred-in-2017 http://www.shootingtracker.com









New York City: Terror Along The Hudson

It’s time to Break It Down!

This will be a short post.

Yesterday, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov was taken into custody, having been suspected of committing what officials are calling a terrorist act. He is alleged to have used a rental pick-up truck as a harrowing killing tool. Saipov is believed to have plowed down the victims as they navigated a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan. According to news reports, the suspect had handwritten notes pledging his loyalty to the Islamic State terror network.

Saipov is a 29-year-old native of Uzbekistan. The Uzbek national has been in the United States since 2010. He has a Green Card, entitling him to permanent residence. Records indicate he lived in Paterson, NJ, and in Tampa, FL, before moving to New Jersey.

Near the end of the attack, Saipov smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.” He was shot in the abdomen by a police officer.

After being detained, the suspect was taken into custody by the New York Police Department. According to an ABC News report, Tuesday’s terror attack resulted in at least 8 deaths and 13 injuries. The attack produced what is being characterized as the deadliest terrorist attack in New York since September 11, 2001.

One of President Trump’s first initiatives was to attempt to issue a Muslim Travel Ban. The idea was bandied about as a top policy promise during his campaign, It was perhaps his second most well-known promise, following the Wall, which he lobbied for right out of the gate. There were 7 countries on the initial Muslim Travel Ban list. They were:








After an intra-administration debate, a few legal setbacks, and a torrid national discourse, the list was revised slightly as Iraq was removed. The 7-nation ban became a 6-nation ban.

The debate continued, as did the legal wrangling, and national conversation. On September 24, the administration revealed a revised 8-nation ban. One of the main upshots from this iteration was that two nations, Iraq and Sudan, were removed. The 8 nations cited in the current ban include:




North Korea





The tenor of the national debate surrounding the travel ban focuses largely on the fundamental argument about whether emphasizing “the other” is the best and most desirable way to keep Americans, and by extension, America, safe. Donald Trump and his disciples contend that it is indeed the only way. A number of other national thought leaders, ranging from Barack Obama to John McCain, believe that it is not. Walls and bans, and the universal distrust that make those devices our tools of choice, will not make us safe.

Mr. Saipov is Exhibit A of that truth. While early accounts indicate he is an Islamic State sympathizer, his country of origin, Uzbekistan, is not included on any variation of the so-called Travel Ban. Moreover, even if it were, Saipov has been in the U.S. for over 7 years, and already has a Green Card, which means he can make America his permanent residence.

This bit of irony will not reshape the debate. Perhaps it should…but it certainly won’t. It may even cause the Trump Regime to once again reshuffle the Travel Ban. While that would be an unfortunate outcome, given the tendencies of this administration, it simply cannot be considered beyond the realm of possibility. One thing we know is that, Travel Ban, notwithstanding, yesterday there was in… “New York City: Terror on the Hudson!”

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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