Donald Trump: One Republican’s Take Down!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Every now and then I run across a point of view (POV) expressed so powerfully and poignantly, that coincidentally mirrors my view on a particular subject at that moment in time, that instead of creating a post, I, instead, share that POV. Given that prologue, you already know, today is one of those days.

Unlike most of the precedent posts of this sort from me, today’s contribution comes to you via third hand transference. Chris Cillizza, a CNN commentator wrote about an analysis of Donald Trump constructed, and shared by Steve Schmidt, one of the principal architects, and one of four founders, of a what is likely the most famous, or depending on your perspective, infamous, anti-Trump groups. As someone who works for CNN, Trump loyalists may contend that label applies to Cillizza too. Schmidt, however, brings an entirely different perspective and set of bona fides to the table. He is a founder of The Lincoln Project

Mr. Schmidt is a longtime (as in lifelong) Republican, and has deep ties to the GOP establishment, and to the Party’s orthodoxy. Of course, in contemporary reckoning, those are not necessarily perceived as the value adding components they would have been before Trump became the Master of the Republican Universe. Still, Schmidt’s involvement in the Party apparatus runs deep. He ran John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, he worked on Lamar Alexander’s 2000 presidential campaign, he worked on Capitol Hill for Republicans, he served as communications director of the House GOP’s campaign arm, and he helped Arnold Schwarzenegger become California’s Republican Governor, in addition to running Senator McCain’s presidential campaign. He has been a partisan GOP fighter for most of his life.

In other words, he is deeply ensconced, and long-term invested in Republican supremacy, as it relates to the American political landscape. Cillizza described Schmidt’s commentary as, “Brutal.” This is his unvarnished summarization of the Trump Effect:     

“Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.

When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities. 

It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk.”

On it’s face, it is difficult to imaging a 3-paragraph narrative doing justice to the withering assault with which Mr. Trump has single-handedly pummeled our nation. However, if it could be done, I submit Schmidt had presented the definitive template. For his part, Cillizza doubled down by insisting that, despite its tone and tenor, Schmidt’s comments encapsulated “a decidedly succinct assessment of what Trump’s conduct in office — from coronavirus to protests over police brutality and back — have meant to the Republican Party and the country.” In thoughtful reflection, I can earnestly report, I concur. “Donald Trump: One Republican’s Take Down!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Old Glory: One Nation, One Flag!

It’s time to Break It Down!

A year ago, at this time, I penned a post discussing the Toronto Raptors ascent to the NBA Title. I mention it today, only to underscore the fact the League hasn’t had a game in over three months, and is currently immersed in discussions to determine if, when, where, and how it will proceed to complete its season, and crown this year’s Champion. As a fan of the game, I remain hopeful that they figure it out, and let the games resume. It won’t be the same, but it will be better than ending the season with a “No Decision” verdict.

Today’s commentary will be brief. I frequently issue a special post around holidays. That saves time, but also is something I do in recognition of the fact that most folks have better things to do with their holiday breaks, than spend time reading blogs. Of course, in the age of COVID-19, the myriad of commitments to which we are normally tethered, is considerably lessened. Moreover, this weekend’s holiday, Flag Day (this past Sunday), is not one that was accompanied by days off, and may be officially considered a day of commemoration or observance, rather than an actual holiday. Still, I am opting to highlight it today.

Some people feel that during the span of this administration, we have been engaged in a series of culture wars. As I write that, I am aware there are those who will insist the culture wars predate this administration. And they do. But the temperature on most of them has been continuously elevating for the past three and a half years, often with considerable help from the chief occupant of 1600 PA Ave. 

These battles, and in some circles, there are genuine battles, though most are of the rhetorical variety, tend to revolve around topics such as race, class, economics and principally, for the purposes of this post, the Flag. So, let’s get to it. We are Americans, and as such, citizens, and/or striving to become citizens of the United States, emphasis on United. Our Flag, which the President has made quite a kerfuffle over, from time to time, is Old Glory, A.K.A., The Stars and Stripes.

For the brief duration of its existence, the Confederate States of America, A.K.A., the Confederacy, had three flags, between 1861 and 1865. Those flags were known as the “Stars and Bars,” (1861-1863, the “Stainless Banner,” (1863-1865), and the “Blood-Stained Banner,” used in 1865 from shortly before the Confederacy’s dissolution until the hostilities ceased. There was also a rejected national flag design used as a battle flag by the Confederate army, featuring elements of the “Stainless Banner” and the “Blood-Stained Banner” designs. 

While this particular design was never a national flag, it is commonly recognized as a symbol of the Confederacy. The Confederate States of America (CSA) waged war against the United States, in what is commonly called The Civil War. The CSA lost! In other words, the battle flag is the quintessential symbol of resistance, and ultimately, of the lost cause. Notably, it is the banner most frequently at the center of conflict, over the so-called (because it was never adopted), Confederate Flag. In the final analysis, and in the simplest of terms, it is the symbol and emblem of, to put it delicately, L-O-S-E-R-S!

As referenced earlier, Sunday (June 14th) was Flag Day. I posted a meme acknowledging the occasion, that in my opinion, was the be all-end all to the Flag discourse. It was short and simple, as every definitive statement should be concise. Shakespeare opined in Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” The meme displayed Old Glory on a flagpole, fluttering against the backdrop of a blue sky, sandwiched between the words, THE ONLY U.S. FLAG THAT MATTERS, atop, and SINCE 1865!, underneath.

Mic drop; case closed”Old Glory: One Nation, One Flag!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Root Cause Analysis: This Didn’t Begin With George Floyd

It’s time to Break It Down!

George Floyd, 46, died May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cause of death, homicide by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” when his neck and back were compressed by police officers for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The pressure cut off the flow of blood to his brain, an independent autopsy determined.

In the 15 nights that have ensued since then, a series of protests have arisen in over 75 cities across the United States, and indeed, worldwide. As May gave way to June, and we find ourselves on the cusps of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), or winter (in the Southern Hemisphere), it appears that, here in the United States, we are well on the way to our next long hot summer.

Over these two and a half weeks, I have read and listened to countless debates about the tenor and tone of the protests, a number of which have turned violent. The protests, not the conversations.

Some folks argue that protesters are working at cross purposes with their own interests. They suggest that protesters are simply using Mr. Floyd’s untimely demise as an excuse for rioting and looting. This view seems to be particularly prevalent among conservatives/Republicans. An NBC News/The Wall Street Journal poll of 745 Registered Voters found that of those polled, 81% of Democrats, and 59% of Independents were more concerned about George Floyd’s death and the actions of police, than with violent protests. Conversely, only 29% of Republicans shared that perspective. 

In other words, nearly 6 in 10 Independents, and more than 8 in 10 Democrats were more concerned about Mr. Floy’s death, and the draconian, and irresponsible actions that led to it. Concomitantly, less than 3 in 10 Republicans were more concerned about the death than the reactions to the murder, or public lynching, as it has been deemed in some circles. The polling had a +/- 3.5 points error ratio.

George Perry Floyd, Jr., was a human being, an African American, a man, a son, a father, a brother, and a person who had lived in 4 states across the American South, Southwest, and Midwest. H mattered. He was a native North Carolinian, born in Fayetteville. His life mattered. But for all the reasons Mr. Floyd’s life, and especially his death, will forever be tied to America’s 2020 Summer of Discontent, notwithstanding, he is not the cause, but rather a symptom of the current societal angst and turmoil.

Herewith, the primer. If you subscribe to American folklore, you might believe that police, as we know them today, are as old as the Republic. They are not. The earliest policing was an informal practice, based on a for profit, privately funded model, employing part-timers. Some towns employed a “night watch” in which volunteers signed up for a certain day and time, mostly to look out for fellow colonists engaging in gambling or prostitution. Boston, the first, started one in 1636, New York followed in 1658, and Philadelphia created one in 1700. It was very inefficient, because the watchmen often slept and drank while on duty, and there were people who were placed on watch duty as a form of punishment.

The night-watch officers were supervised by a constable. That wasn’t a highly sought-after position either. Early policemen didn’t want to wear badges because these guys had bad reputations to begin with, and they didn’t want to be identified as people other people didn’t like. When communities tried compulsory service, “if you were rich enough, you paid someone to do it for you – ironically, a criminal or a community thug. As the nation grew, different regions made use of different policing systems.

The first publicly funded, organized police force with officers on duty full-time, like the first night watch system, was created in Boston, in 1838, just over two hundred years later. In the South however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests, such as in Boston, but on the preservation of the slavery system. Therefore, slave patrols were among the primary Southern policing institutions. The first formal patrols were created in the Carolina colonies in 1704. These entities had three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules.

During the Civil War, the military became the primary form of law enforcement in the South. Over the course of Reconstruction, many local sheriffs functioned in ways analogous to the earlier slave patrols, enforcing segregation, and maintaining the disenfranchisement of freed slaves. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved into modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing “Jim Crow” segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system.

As the nation evolved, so did the methods and schemes designed to maintain order, in part by keeping the black man down, even if it meant separating him from his most valued possession; his life. Throughout the eras, from Slavery (1619-1865), to Reconstruction (1862-1877), to Jim Crow (1877-1954), to  Civil Rights (1954-1965), to Modern times 1965-Present), as rights and freedoms have evolved, so have the mechanisms used to disenfranchise and deprive black Americans from full and complete participation in fruits of our so-called exceptional country. The bottom line is black men were beaten and lynched in1620, and the same is true in 2020. That it happened 400 years ago stains the pompous assertion of exceptionality. That this wack and violent measure was used to kill black men in the 17th century was a travesty. That the tactic is still employed in the 21st century renders bogus, the premise that America is exceptional, at least in a positive way.

That contemporary law enforcement officers act in a capacity akin to 18th century slave patrols, in effect, hunting down, and/or killing black men without cause, or consequence, is the reason we are experiencing the current level of civil disobedience, unrest, and violence. In response, to those individuals who would prefer us to suffer in silence, and not act out, we have largely done that, and policemen and women are still killing black men. We are constantly told, these acts are the purview of a few bad apples, yet, the preponderance of good apples seldom reigns in the bad apples, and in fact, often sides with, and defends them. Just this past weekend, 57 Buffalo officers resigned because two of their colleagues were suspended for shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, resulting in a cracked skull, and other severe injuries. The 57 officers comprised the entire Buffalo Police Department emergency response team. The officers will still be employed by the department but will no longer work on the emergency response team. Where were the good apples?

Consider that not long ago, Colin Kapernick, and other NFL players who kneeled as the National Anthem was played at football games to protest police violence against black men and women, were deemed S.O.B.’s, by the individual considered the leader of the free world. Today, the NFL Commissioner (and a litany of other business executives) says the League made a mistake in how it treated players, who were apparently ahead of their time in peacefully protesting the termination of black lives by officers of the law. What changed? Yes, Mr. Floyd was killed, but that in itself merely added to the too rapidly mounting carnage total. The ante was raised substantially by the ensuing protests. Corporations have committed to donate $billions to help right the many wrongs, in what amounts to the government sponsored plundering of black lives. I haven’t heard Mr. Trump amend his position on the subject. Of course he hasn’t recanted his DNA obliterated position on the Central Park 5 either, so, I’m not holding my breath. But it’s clear, numerous executives, businesses, and leaders, propelled by good will, common sense, and yes, a few videos, have come to see the light on the issue. That’s is at least a start. Black America does not need or want to get something off its collective chest. No, we want and need an end to systemic racism, and for police officers to take their knees off our necks, stop shooting us when we are unarmed, or when we are armed (since we have Second Amendment rights too), and posing no threat. Is that too much to ask?

In conclusion, the point is, Mr. Floyd’s death was the result of a senseless act of violence, and as The Reverend Al Sharpton said during Mr. Floyd’s eulogy, yesterday, a crime. The local police union and others are trying to shift the focus and responsibility to Mr. Floyd. His record has become a source of deflection. This, in spite of the fact that Officer Derek Chauvin, who’s knee to the neck, caused Mr. Floyd to expire, is the subject of 18 prior complaints, only two of which were closed with disciplinary action. This is an example of the kind of case, in which officers are often exonerated, or, simply not charged in the first place. It just so happened that Mr. Floyd’s case was captured, virtually from start to finish, on video. Chauvin was one of four officers involved at the scene. The three others, participated, either directly, or by shielding bystanders from intervening. None of them stopped Chauvin or administered CPR after Mr. Floyd stopped breathing and/or ceased to show signs of a pulse.  Moreover, consider this. It’s still not considered an open and shut case. That, in a nutshell, is why an inordinate number of people, and not just black people, but Americans of all persuasions, as well as individuals from other countries around the world, are in an uproar, or, paraphrase Fannie Lou Hamer’s immortal words, spoken 56 years ago, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” To wit…“Root Cause Analysis: This Didn’t Begin With George Floyd!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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57 members of Buffalo police riot response team resign after shoving incident

High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?

It’s time to Break It Down!

Let me begin at the end. My assessment is, this isn’t over yet!

So Mr. Trump asserted yesterday that the GOP will be “forced” to find a new state to host their convention as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stands by his demand that party leaders provide him with plans for a scaled down event amid coronavirus concerns. Bravo. Trump’s tough guy antics are cheered by many in his Party, and are absolutely drawing rave reviews from his hard-core supporters. Some of his most avid allies claim Trump enjoys the enthusiastic support of 97% of Republicans, a number, which they say, is a record.

I am hearing that Republicans believe Governor Cooper is a (politically) dead man walking. They contend the Governor is at best misplaying a bad hand, and at worse, outright overplaying it. They are thoroughly confident that Trump will not only be easily re-elected, but that the pending red wave will lead to reclaiming all the seats the GOP lost in the midterm elections, and, of course, that Governor Cooper is toast.

This is an interesting kerfuffle, to say the least. Not that long ago, Mr. Trump blithely deferred to Governors when it was time to make a decision on whether to develop and execute shutdown measures to blunt the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke, almost demurely, of federalism, and the role and responsibility of the Governors to figure it out for themselves. Some skeptics and cynics might conclude he was reticent to make the call, because like Pontius Pilate, he didn’t want his fingerprints to be associated with those actions. Because, of course, any downturn that might result from shuttering businesses, would have the effect of putting a damper on his self-proclaimed greatest economy ever…and subsequently complicate his bid for re-election.

Sure enough, while the virus had yet to peak in a number of states, he suddenly dispensed with the virtue of federalism, which he contended prevented him from invoking shutdowns, and proclaimed that it was time to open up, and that he personally would override any Governor who didn’t allow churches to re-open. Well, the move appeared to help him feel that he had reignited his mojo.

On Monday, the erstwhile, in control of everything, self-proclaimed law and order president made his way across Pennsylvania Ave. for a photo-op at historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been subjected to fire damage the previous evening, during protests of the death of George Floyd. Ahead of him, law enforcement officials used smoke canisters and rubber bullets to disperse, what according to most news outlets on the scene, were peaceful protesters. It was initially reported that tear gas was employed. That was lated denied.

Tuesday, the events were reimagined, and the new narrative was that Attorney General Barr had ordered the show of force. For a guy who claims the ultimate authority, declares himself in control of everything, and who bragged about dominating, and emphasized the need to dominate ”unlawful” protesters, dominating lawful protesters, and hiding behind his AG in the wake of broad-based public pushback, is not a good look. In fact, to use Trumpian vernacular, it was weak.

But that brings us to yesterday, and his threat, or was it a bluff, to snatch the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Charlotte, and North Carolina. A number of Republicans on the ground, in and around Charlotte, claim Governor Cooper is playing politics. All I know is, when it was time to make the call on Stay-at-home orders, Mr. Trump was (again) happy to use someone else, Governors in that case, as human shields. Now, he sees an opportunity to put pressure on a Governor in a purple/swing state to submit to his “dominating” pressure. He see’s himself, as holding all the cards.

If the Governor folds, and accedes to Trump’s bluster, he has bent to the will of the omnipotent POTUS. If he resists, and adheres to actions he believes are in the best interest of the citizens of his state, and, I might add, anyone from out of state, who might be attending the Convention, he will be characterized as depriving the city and state of jobs, and the branding spotlight of hosting the convention. This latter posture will undoubtedly energize his base.

But let’s be clear. Trump is all about the glitz and glamor of the show. Between now and August, and between August and November, he’ll create dozens of political donnybrooks, and complain of countless sleights to manipulate Team Trump. And they will dutifully respond.

I have no idea what Governor Cooper will do. I have the sense he is relying upon North Carolina’s official healthcare professionals and experts to provide guidance about what to require of the RNC, in the way of an acceptable plan. I hope he will weigh all the pertinent factors and apply his best judgment.

It’s worth noting there are a lot of people in the Charlotte community who think the City should never have bid on the RNC, and who certainly believe local elected officials should not have consummated the deal. In the fog of the current nationwide unrest, stemming from Mr… Floyd’s death, amnesia abounds. It seems there is a collective forgetfulness, as a number of cities claim to be lining up to embrace the RNC, should Trump and company actually move it, that when this deal was made, Charlotte was essentially the only bidder. That was in no small part, due to the toxicity of the Party Leader, and the GOP Brand. A Leader and Brand, I might add, that have not in any discernible way, been enhanced since that time, to anyone but Trump loyalists. Perhaps, that’s all it will take for them to succeed.

I’ve been surprised before, and I could be surprised again. But, as I said at the outset, my assessment is, this isn’t over yet. High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?”

I’m done; holla back!

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

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at; 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: