Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You! (Edition IV)

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Please enjoy a reprised edition of “Break It Down!” This post was originally published May 30, 2012 at:, reposted May 27, 2015 at as Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You!, and again May 31, 2017 as “Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You! (Edition III).

OK, so Memorial Day was earlier this week.  You may be familiar with my holiday week philosophy, which is: make it easy on the readers, who are always otherwise engaged, no matter the holiday.  Of course, in the process, I am also giving myself a break.  That makes for a natural win-win scenario.

With that overarching thought in mind, I will endeavor to apply three elementary rules of communication:

  1. Utilize the KISS PrincipleAKAKeep It Short & Simple (also Keep It Simple Stupid)
  2. Convey new or “not widely circulated” information
  3. Always remember to emphasize points and 2 above

Memorial Day is a federal holiday to honor America’s fallen soldiers.  It originated after the Civil War.  Falling between Easter and Independence Day, it is often equated with a late spring break, or a pre-summer respite.

The weekend typically includes a cornucopia of sports.  For example this week included the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600, the NBA PlayoffsCollege Men’s Baseball playoffs, and College Women’s Softball competition, among others.

With the plethora of activity always thrown into the mix, the holiday is sometimes almost lost in the shuffle. But wait; Memorial Day has a special cultural significance.  In fact, it is because of that nexus we should pay special homage to this late spring holiday.

The first well-known observance of a Memorial Day type was held May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Over 250 Union soldiers that had been prisoners of war, died in Charleston, and were quickly buried in makeshift graves. A group of blacks, mostly freedmen, organized the observance and led cleanup and landscaping of the burial site.

Most of the nearly 10,000 people who attended were freedmen and their families.  Of that number, 3.000 were children, newly enrolled in freedman’s schools.  Mutual aid societies, black ministers, and white Northern missionaries were also in attendance.

David W. BlightProfessor of American History at Yale University, and Director of the school’s Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, & Abolition, described the day this way:

“This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the War had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”

 Professor Blight conceded there is no evidence that the Charleston event led directly to the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.  But the record is clear they formed the earliest truly large-scale event, complete with media coverage.  Their effort was the prototype, if not the catalyst.

Having said that, I believe I honored the rules established above for this post:

  • Told this story in a direct and uncomplicated fashion
  • Presented information I am confident most readers did not know
  • Recognized points and 2, were accomplished and closed the post

Enjoy your bonus time, and be sure to reflect on “Memorial Day: What Your Teachers Never Told You! (Edition IV)”

I’m done; holla back!

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Amash Calls Out Trump: Alas, He’s A Unicorn

It’s time to Break It Down!

Justin Amash, an attorney and U.S. Representative from Michigan’s 3rd District, played the role of ideological heretic Saturday, calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump. In doing so, he broke rank with contemporary GOP orthodoxy, which basically is, whatever Trump says…or tweets. Despite the avalanche of pushback and circling of the wagons by those in his Party who support Trump (pretty much everybody but him right now), and which I’m sure he anticipated, Representative Amash refused to temper his calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, in the face of the torrid onslaught.

Amash, a founding member of the conservative Freedom Caucus has more GOP/conservative bona fides than Donald Trump could ever hope to amass. He is a libertarian RepublicanPolitico described him as “one of the most conservative members of Congress.”

Still, there is a deep and wide gulf separating the two major political parties at this juncture in American History. Despite clear evidence of malfeasance, Trump has surrounded himself with folks who for the most part have demonstrated a boundless capacity to cosign, not only whatever Trump says, but also apparently whatever he may have done (or not) in the past (including his taxes). But that’s a topic for another post.

Amash tweeted Saturday:

“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meets the threshold for impeachment.”

He went on to say that the report:

“Identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.”

He added: ‘President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct’

As you can imagine, Amash’s comments were met with fierce blowback from top Republicans, including Trump, who hit back at the Michigan congressman in a pair of tweets Sunday.

  • “Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy.”
  • “Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents [sic] hands!”

In an interview with the Fox News Channel, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), said Amash drummed up talk of impeachment because he is an attention seeker.

  • “You’ve got to understand Justin Amash. He’s been in Congress quite some time. I think he’s asked one question in all the committees that he’s been in. He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me. It’s a question whether he’s even in our Republican conference as a whole.”

Unsurprisingly, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) broke with Republicans (OK, so there are two) in offering praise for Amash, branding his statements “courageous.” Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Romney said of Amash:

“I respect him. I think it’s a courageous statement.”

But even Romney refused to join Amash in calling for impeachment. Meanwhile, Amash’s remarks, be they courageous, those of a loser, or just the antics of an attention-seeker, did garner him a primary challenge from a Michigan state representative.

Michigan State Rep. Jim Lower (R) on Monday announced he would try to unseat Amash, moving up his announcement, spurred on by Amash’s comments. According to reporting by the Detroit Free Press, Lower said:

“Congressman Justin Amash tweets yesterday calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents. He must be replaced and I am going to do it.”

On Monday, Amash doubled down on his impeachment remarks. He argued that those who say Trump committed no crimes are relying on a number of falsehoods. He maintained that the Mueller Report shows an “underlying crime.” He says Trump was trying to obstruct. Trump, and Barr, and every other Trumpite emphasize Mueller’s conclusion that collusion was not proved. They are generally mute on the question of obstruction. Not at all surprising since, whether it was lying about participating in formulating the email response to the infamous Russia meeting at Trump Tower, or the payoffs to women, or firing Comey, or attempting to persuade various folks to shutdown the Mueller probe, or trying to get Sessions to un-recuse himself, or blocking the release of his taxes, stifling information seems to be part of this administration’s modus operandi.

Justin Amash has spoken. Don’t look for his GOP contemporaries to follow suit. They are not about that life. Go ahead and get comfortable with the notion…Amash Calls Out Trump: Alas, He’s A Unicorn!

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Home Grown (American) Terrorism: The Gift Of White Privilege

It’s time to Break It Down!

There is a growing scourge on American soil. Men, women, and children are being killed at schools, at hotels, at churches, mosques, and synagogues, at shopping malls, at theaters, at work, and at nightclubs. They are not being murdered, for what they did or didn’t do, or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner wrote in a piece appearing yesterday at, they were, “Slaughtered again and again because, whether Jewish, or black, or simply not “pure” white, they are seen as a pestilence to be purged.”

The individuals who committed their murders are adherents of a vile and hateful ideology that meets the FBI definition of terrorism. However, a number of higher echelon law enforcement officials (LEO’s), past and present, say they aren’t treated as terrorists, because they arte American…and because they are white.

Alas, in the backdrop of a rising number of lethal white supremacist attacks, many of these same officials say that must change. They add; white supremacy has to be labeled terrorism, and in turn, addressed with the same vigor and relentless pursuit as ISIS and al Qaeda. Easier said than done, especially considering the policy changes that must be enacted to facilitate and achieve such a change.

Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance was one contemporary LEO driven to that conclusion by a preponderance of the evidence. He was investigating the Midtown Manhattan homicide of 66-year old Timothy Caughman. Mr. Caughman was walking alone when a man approached him from behind and plunged a sword into his chest. While dying, he uttered the last words, “Why are you doing this?” His killer’s response? He kept stabbing!

The answer would be become clear in short order. James Jackson had come from his home in Maryland with one thing in mind…To start a race war. While it was certainly an egregiously hateful act, Vance concluded this was more than a hate crime. He described it thusly, using these words from Jackson’s manifesto:

“It was the targeted killing of a black man with the aspiration of dividing the races to keep killing each other, ending in the death of every black person in the United States and around the world.” That’s deep; it’s also real.

Vance went on to say, “I think we needed to call it what it was. This was an act of terrorism. This exists in our country, and it happened here.”

Although DA Vance framed it gingerly, his point was nevertheless, crystal clear. Most Americans, in their own self-absorbed way, refuse to admit that terrorists can be English speaking, American-born, and white people. Terrorists, though, come in all tongues, nationalities, and hues. Moreover, if one endeavors to spread fear, and to wipeout a specific group of people, one is a terrorist. To wit, Vance and his team ascribed Jackson with the title he strived for, and that he duly earned, terrorist. He noted that calling someone a terrorist elevates that person’s profile, as well as that of the case; it can also lead to leveling additional charges and attaching higher sentences.

Caughman’s killing actually fits the category the FBI has deemed domestic terrorism:

“Perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily US-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”

This murder may not have gained wide national notoriety. But, its part of a very public and growing, deadly trend of domestic terror attacks committed largely by white men. From the Charleston church massacre through the killing of a protester in Charlottesville and the shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, far-right extremists are responsible for — or suspected of – most of the ideological killings in America in the last 10 years, according to data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks extremist activity.

White supremacist murders in the US “more than doubled in 2017,” with far-right extremist groups and white supremacists “responsible for 59% of all extremist-related fatalities in the US in 2017,” ADL’s audit shows. They were responsible for 20% of these fatalities the year before.

The degree to which white supremacist terrorism is a problem depends upon whom you ask. Some folks insist it’s not a problem. Donald Trump, for example, has said he does not regard white nationalism as a rising global threat. His response to the question of whether he worried about the rise in white nationalist movements around the world, was, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.”

Conversely, George Selim, former head of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force at DHS says, “If the same number of Americans had been killed at the hands of an individual that was inspired or directed by a foreign terrorist organization, you can bet this Congress and any administration, irrespective of political party would be reacting much differently,” Selim is set to take his argument to Congress today. He is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The title of the hearing is, “Confronting white supremacy: The consequences of inaction.

In a number of ways, the current spate of racist murders has common denominators with episodes of foreign terrorists. Its sort of a radicalization is radicalization vibe. It frequently occurs online, and is similar to the methods and sources utilized by ISIS and al Qaeda. There is one specific distinction; these homegrown extremists are white. Caughman’s murderer focused on his intense hatred of African American men before traveling to New York and killing him.

For weeks leading up to his attack, Jackson spent huge amounts of time during days and nights online studying Nazism and extremism. Interracial dating was an “insurmountable problem,” in his mind. He read obsessively about Dylann Roof, who murdered the Charleston Nine. Jackson wrote in his manifesto, “The racial world war starts today. Negroes are obviously first on the list for extermination.

The gunmen in Charleston, and the Pittsburgh and Poway suspects all engaged in hateful speech online before transforming their rage into lethal action. Mr. Selim emphasizes a behavioral response that he believes to be both critical and foreboding, the reluctance to name white men as possibly dangerous. That in and of itself poses a clear and present danger…”because white supremacists and nationalists are a real and persistent threat.” Selim went on to say:

“As I look forward in the next five to 10 or more years, we need to acclimate ourselves to the new normal, which is increased incidents of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism, anti-Semitism, and all acts of bigotry or Islamophobia, xenophobia that target ethnic and religious minority groups. Once we understand that that is very likely the new normal, then we can put in place some of the strong infrastructure related to counterterrorism and community resilience that we’ve already built up and focus it on these new threats that we know we’re going to be facing.”

In the final analysis, there is much work to be done in this area. No small part of the challenge is attached to America’s love of guns, and the sacrosanct nature of the 2ndAmendment. Guns are frequently and easily available. And, they are most often the method of choice of the principals we’ve been discussing. But, if you are thinking, that’s a whole ‘nother blog, you’re right. IJS, in order to deal with this matter, we must eventually deal with the gun issue. In the meantime, today’s focus is, Home Grown (American) Terrorism: The Gift Of White Privilege!”

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Jerry and Don’s Coup: Fiction on Steroids…The Real Hoax!

Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, take your pick, is a global transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity. My father was a Baptist preacher. You might say he was an evangelical. As someone who practices the Christian faith, is to this day a regular churchgoer, and who considers my father my greatest influence, by a wide margin, I suppose that means, at the very least, I am endowed with some measure of evangelical lineage. On most days I am intellectually capable of coming to terms with that logic framework.

Before going any further, let me be clear, my father did not raise another preacher. Good, bad, or indifferent, that path never spoke to me; it was not on my radar. Still, growing up in church, and around ministers, I had ample opportunity to observe the sausage making aspects of church life from an up close and personal angle, starting at an early age, and extending to my early thirties, when my dad passed away.

I needed to posit the preceding paragraphs to establish the predicate for the assertion of the premise of the subject line. Jerry Falwell, Jr., scion of his namesake, Jerry Falwell, is like his father before him, one of the most prominent evangelicals in America. He is a lawyer, and also like his father, who preceded him in that capacity, the President of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

This past Saturday evening, Falwell, Jr. tweeted the following:

“After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump – no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.” (Jerry Falwell, Jr.)

Donald J. Trump retweeted Falwell’s message Sunday afternoon.

That is just the latest from Falwell’s growing Library of Trump sycophancy. Here’s a dandy from a few months ago:

Christ has finally delivered us a man worthy of grace in President Donald J. Trump. After 8 long years of Barack Obama’s tyrannical rule we have a President who prays like us, serves like us, and looks like us. 6:47 PM – 21 Feb 2019 (Jerry Falwell, Jr. Tweet)

I don’t even plan to address the latter tweet, other than to note it’s interesting that one of Falwell’s 3 elevated points is that Trump “looks like us.” I’m not really sure if that pertains specifically to people who are rotund, overweight, with thinning hair…or just to the entirety of white America. I mean, I can’t know what’s in his heart, right? Take your pick. I have no interest in debating the matter.

Let’s get back to the alleged coup attempt. First, it’s instructive to note this was not the only time Trump has inserted coup into the conversation, presumably to establish victimhood bona fides and light a fire under his acolytes.

In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on April 25, 2019: Trump said:

“This was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government. … I think it’s far bigger than Watergate. I think it’s possibly the biggest scandal in political history in this country. Maybe beyond political. … This was a coup. This wasn’t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup.”

In the weeks leading up to the Hannity appearance in which Trump referred to a coup, he retweeted or quoted in tweets several allies using the term. The first was pro-Trump commentator Dan Bongino, who said on Fox & Friends on Feb. 18 that “this was an illegal coup attempt on the President of the United States.”

It should be noted that Mueller found no conspiracy with Russia; if Mueller had been part of a coup, he could have thrown Justice Department guidelines to the wind and indicted Trump. Moreover, let’s go deeper.

A coup d’état is defined as the sudden and irregular (i.e., illegal or extra-legal) removal, or displacement, of the executive authority of an independent government. The principle and irreducible element of a coup is it is first and foremost an action carried out beyond the bounds of legality. Conversely, the inescapable point about the Russia investigation is it was undertaken by law enforcement, and adhered to relevant laws.

By using the word coup, Trump, Falwell, Bongino, and anyone else who subscribes to that notion are suggesting that Trump’s own Justice Department, comprised of and more pointedly, run by people he appointed, acted at variance with the law.

There are at least 12 types of coups, including:

  • Military coups
  • Rebel coups
  • Popular revolts
  • Dissident actions
  • Palace coups
  • Foreign coups
  • Internationally mediated transitions (Which may be what Trump is attempting to foment in Venezuela, but I digress)
  • Forced resignations
  • Self coups (Which is what some believe Trump may do if he loses the 2020 Election, but again, I digress)
  • Attempted coups
  • Coup conspiracies
  • Counter coups

Here’s the bottom line. The Russia investigation began before Trump was elected. And at a time when it was widely assumed that Mrs. Clinton would win. It cannot have been a coup attempt. It was an effort carried out by duly established arms and agents of the state to prevent seizure of the government by a witting or unwitting Russian agent.

Politifact found that Trump said, the Russia investigation “was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States Government.”

A thorough review reveals the Russia investigation resulted from a by-the-rules law enforcement inquiry. That’s the antithesis of a coup, for which the defining characteristic is that it’s an extra-legal action. That distinction must be added to the recognition that the investigation began prior to Trumps’ “record-breaking” inaugural, which means…he wasn’t even eligible to be deposed by a coup.

Consequently, this assertion garnered a Pants on Fire rating. Of course, if you read last week’s post, that should come as no surprise, whatsoever. Just add it to the list. And there you have it; got through the whole post without a screed on Falwell and Trump’s new found respect for reparations, or a thoughtful treatise noting, even FBI Director Christopher Wray (that’s Trump appointed Christopher Wray, if you’re keeping score) admits there was no spying on Trump. Anyway, forget about the “Russia hoax.” Instead, focus on “Jerry & Don’s Coup: Fiction on Steroids…The Real Hoax!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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It Was Only A Matter Of Time: #45 Eclipses The 10K Milestone

It’s time to Break It Down!

Spoiler Alert: Since I framed and wrote this post (Monday, in full disclosure, due to travel into late Tuesday night), Rosenstein resigned, and Mueller threw a hand grenade into the GOP circle jerk. At first glance, said developments may be more interesting than this post, but they also make this post more compelling. They pointedly indict both Rosenstein and Barr as having joined #45 in presenting and promoting a patently false narrative about Mueller’s report. A narrative that, not surprisingly, was slanted in #45’s favor, and as is frequently the case when it comes to #45, one that is counterfactual. See how that ties into the thematic direction of this post.

Prolific! That’s my personal WOTD. Conceived and utilized expressly for this post.

Just to set the tone, in no particular order, here is a definition and 10 synonyms for prolific:

Present in large numbers or quantities –

  • Plentiful
  • Abundant
  • Bountiful
  • Profuse
  • Copious
  • Proliferative
  • Plenteous
  • Bounteous
  • Proliferous
  • Fruitful

All things considered, the above adds up to a cornucopia of ways to describe the frequency with which the dude in the Oval finds himself occupying a space other than that which contains the verifiable truth. While I have written before about the fact challenged nature of #45’s commentary and tweet history, the current situation warrants reiterating not because it’s new, it obviously isn’t, but because his false and misleading claims are increasing at a near exponential pace.

In the early going, it was clear that #45 was going to get the benefit of the doubt by a media reluctant to call his deviations from the truth lies. Never having been confronted by anyone so willing to push the envelope on such things, it was perhaps momentarily, an interesting experiment. It didn’t hurt that he surrounded himself with a team composed of individuals willing to ignore, justify, rationalize, and when necessary double-down on the falsity of the moment.

After the Inauguration in 2017, then White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated Mr. Trump’s specious claim that Trump’s Inauguration had the largest crowd ever for the event. When Spicer’s assertion was rightfully called into question, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President co-signed Spicer’s sleight of tongue by saying the Press Secretary had given “alternative facts,” when what he did was make an inaccurate statement.

The Washington Post and The New York Times are among a number of entities tracking Trump’s veracity. The Post deploys a source known as The Fact Checker’s database. According to this resource, through April 27th, #45 has been “credited” with having made 10,111 claims that are either false or misleading, in 828 days. It took 601 days for him to reach 5,000. That equated to an average of 8 claims per day. Unarguably, that’s a prodigious sum, and a high octane pace, in its own right. However, in retrospect, it’s clear the vibrant young man with the very, very large brain, was just getting warmed up. Though it was already clear, the trend line was on the upswing. During his first 100 days, he averaged about 5 such statements per day. At that somnambulant rate, he would have accumulated only around 7,000 in an entire 4-year term.

This month, the last week or so in particular, he has almost certainly put the truth-o-meters into hyper-drive.  Take note of these examples:

Add in #45’s constant Twitter barrage, and the precocious dissembler ran up 171 false or misleading claims in just 3 days, April 25th–27th. That’s a sum greater than the total for any single month during his first five months in office.

The Fact Checker welcomes academic research into the Trump claims database. Recent examples include Erasmus UniversityUniversity College London, and University of California at Santa Barbara. You can request their data files with an explanation of your research plans by contacting them at

The single most repeated claim (160 times) made by #45 is that his border wall is being built. It is not. Congress has yet to fund the wall, as he envisioned it, and in response, he has pitched bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.” Moreover, he has a tendency to operate from the “If he continues to repeat the same untruth, it’ll be believed.” The Post’s database has noted nearly 300 instances in which #45 has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He has also garnered 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three of Four Pinocchios, and which have been repeated 20 or more times.

The order and degree of things about which #45 makes false or misleading claims has no bounds. A short list includes:

  • Trade deficits with China and Japan – He has exaggerated the deficits and frequently claims America loses money from such deficits. We’ve purchased more goods from them than they did from us. Period. Moreover, if we add tariffs to their goods, it is Americans who pay more money to purchase desired goods and services.
  • He has said he has nothing to hide from the Russia investigation. Perhaps, but he persists in refusing to testify under oath. Draw you own inference.
  • He continued inflating jobs gained under his administration, starting the count from his election, rather than his “largest ever” inauguration.
  • He claimed the Green New Deal would require every building in Manhattan to be replaced. No. Just no!
  • He took credit for funding a program, the Great Lake Restoration Initiative, which his administration tried to eliminate.
  • He claimed that he passed the biggest tax cut in history, and that he cut the estate tax to zero. No…and no.
  • He claimed he insisted that the new Embassy in Jerusalem be made of Jerusalem stone. The reality? The British mandated through municipal laws in what was then Palestine that buildings must be faced with a local form of limestone that has a golden hue.

And so it goes; I’m sure you get the readily obvious, and often repeated point. This dude is a piece of work. It amazes me that in a political party in which so many people think of, or who define themselves as free-thinkers, so large a proportion of them display such a phenomenal level of obeisance to this man. I’ll tell you what doesn’t surprise me at all though. “It Was Only A Matter Of Time: #45 Eclipses The 10K Milestone.”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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