Dear John: Rest In Peace!

It’s time to Break It Down!

John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was an icon; an American hero. The man who singled-handedly popularized the phrase “Good Trouble,” slipped the surly bonds of earth 12 days ago. It is not for me to say where he will rest in eternity. All I know is he did yeoman’s work on behalf of his fellow man, while he walked this earth. Mostly he invested his life in service to the cause of civil and human rights. He sustained more than a few beatings while doing so. As a child, his mother frequently admonished him to stay out of trouble. As an adult, he committed to avail himself to “Good Trouble,” and he did so, as often as possible.

As a 23-year-old, he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. As an 80-year-old, in his last public appearance, he visited Black Lives Matter Plaza, in Washington, as protest roiled, after the death of George Floyd. He insinuated himself in “Good Trouble,” many times over the course of the span of the nearly 57 years that separated The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and his last act of valor and sacrifice. As Mr. Lewis rose to much acclaim and notoriety, perhaps no single incident was more riveting than one of the occasions during which, he almost lost his life. He marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, on what is now known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement confronted the marchers, and terrorized and beat many of them, including Lewis.

John Lewis was a longtime civil rights activist, and organizer, and the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) when he first marched with Dr. King. However, he didn’t just start fast, he finished strong. He went on to become a US. Congressman in 1987, representing Georgia’s 5th District. He sponsored important legislation, including a bill to establish the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was he first introduced in 1988. It was one of the first pieces of legislation the newly minted Congressman introduced. 

It was a long, hard-fought battle. He re-introduced the bill every year thereafter. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law in 2003. That was 15 years after Lewis initially introduced it. He was not easily deterred. The museum broke ground in 2012, and was completed and dedicated in 2016. The facility is a three-tiered, bronze building designed by David Adjaye between 14th and 15th streets. Until the coronavirus pandemic closed museums, the NMAAHC was among the top-visited Smithsonian museums, having welcomed more than 7 million visitors since its opening day.

Congressman Lewis was a warrior for civil rights and racial justice. He was the last surviving speaker of the ’63 March on Washington. In 2020, he was a sponsor of H.R. 51, the D.C. statehood bill that passed in the House of Representatives in June. One final act in his lifelong pursuit of “Good Trouble.” John Robert Lewis, a devotee of nonviolence, rose from humble beginnings in rural Troy, Alabama. His acts of courage, dedication, prescience, and the pursuit of civil rights and justice for his people were the hallmarks of his four score years on this orb. But in closing, I want to leave you with some of his most piercing and prophetic words. During his speech at the March on Washington, he said:

“To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again.

“And then you holler, ‘Be patient.’ How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now. We do not want to go to jail. But we will go to jail if this is the price we must pay for love, brotherhood, and true peace.” Loosely translated (by me), he was saying, if “Good Trouble” is what it takes, then by all means, give us “Good Trouble.”

“Dear John: Rest In Peace!” I’m done; holla back!

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Who Is That Masked Man?

It’s time to Break It Down!

The year 2020 has earned numerous mocking descriptions, based on a near apocalyptic litany of, “if it wasn’t for bad luck, there’d be none at all,” cataclysmic events, including only the third Presidential impeachment in the history of the Republic, the tragic deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash, the spread of a global pandemic, and the end of the magical string of economic and job gains that began early in the Obama era. Now as a nation, we have familiarized ourselves with an array of new nomenclature and habits ranging from COVID-19 to regular mask wearing for the most mundane of outside chores. Sports ground to a screeching halt, movie theaters shut down, schools from Pre-K to colleges and universities closed, or transitioned to online operations, and a larger than ever swath of Americans, who are still fortunate enough to have a job, are working from home.

Through it all, the one thing Americans could reliably depend on was the Leader of the Free World was spinning and weaving a tale liberally mixed with positivity, fantasy and denial. Despite, presumably being apprised and armed with the best and most accurate intel on planet earth, for months he suggested the ultimate relief was right around the corner, or just over the proverbial rainbow. Here’s a sampling of a dozen times Mr. Trump teased relief, that in reality, was nowhere in sight.

February 10th in a meeting with Governors (12 documented cases) – “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.”

February 25th at a roundtable in New Delhi (53 documented cases) – “[China is] getting it more and more under control. So, I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.”

February 26th during a news briefing (59 documented cases) – “Again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

February 27th at a photo opportunity at the White House (60 documented cases) – “We have done an incredible job. We’re going to continue. It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is, the greatest experts — I’ve spoken to them all. Nobody really knows.”

March 6th during a bill signing (278 documented cases/14 deaths) – “It’ll go away.”

March 10th during a meeting on Capitol Hill (959 documented cases/28 deaths) – “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 12th during a bilateral meeting (1663 documented cases/40 deaths) – “You know, we need a little a separation until such time as this goes away. It’s going to go away. It’s going to go way. I was watching [former FDA administrator] Scott [Gottlieb] — I was watching Scott this morning, and he was saying within two months. … It’s going away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths.”

March 30th during a coronavirus news briefing (161807 documented cases/2978 deaths) – “It will go away. You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away. And we’re going to have a great victory. … I want to have our country be calm and strong, and fight and win, and it will go away.”

March 31st during a coronavirus news briefing (188,172 documented cases/3873 deaths) – “It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that.”

April 3rd during a coronavirus news briefing (275,586 documented cases/7,087 deaths) – “It is going to go away. It is going away. … I said it’s going away, and it is going away.”

April 7th during a coronavirus news briefing (396, 223/12,722 deaths) – “It did go — it will go away. … The cases really didn’t build up for a while. But you have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else.”

April 28th in a news conference (1,004,908 documented cases/58000 deaths) – “I think what happens is it’s going to go away. This is going to go away.”

So, in the event anyone was to place Mr. Trump’s early spitball assessment that 15 cases would soon be zero, the cases by April 28th totaled just 92 shy of 67,000 for every one of those 15 cases he referenced on February 26th, a two-month span of time. For the record, that would total 1,005,000 cases. Yesterday, for the first time since early June, the death toll from the virus exceeded 1,000 per day. In the backdrop, Mr. Trump stood in front of a bank of reporters and TV cameras and in, given the above statements, made what amounted to a 180-degree reversal. After nearly three months, he revived the coronavirus task force and conceded the trauma that is COVID-19 would get worse before it gets better. Those who represent that as doing a great job, are undoubtedly skilled in the art of truthful hyperbole. (You either get it, or you don’t).

Over the course of the pandemic, three Golden Rule protocols emerged. They are frequent hand washing, social distancing (maintaining six feet of separation between yourself and other people especially folks with whom you do not share a household), and mask-wearing. Well before Donald Trump became a political figure, he was known to be a germaphobe, who disdained shaking hands. He revealed this nugget to the world, via his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback.” 

Taking into account his aversion for the microbes other people carry, it’s actually an interesting dynamic, that he resisted wearing a mask. It took months, millions of cases, and more than 100,000 deaths before he would deign to don a mask in public. At one point he offered that he refused to give the media, with which he has a perpetual battle, the satisfaction of taking his picture in a mask. While that may have been part of his motivation for what seemed both a stubborn and, under the circumstances, bizarre behavior, a likely deeper rationalization was his commitment to pitching himself as an exemplar of strength to his loyalists, and partisans. With that in mind, it is no surprise, many Trump supporters also eschew, if not downright refuse to wear a mask. In fact, a great many of them appear not to care much for social distancing either. I’m in no position to speak about their penchant for hand washing, or the lack thereof, but if they are rejecting two of the three principal protocols, they are certainly increasing their odds of contracting, or spreading the virus…or both.

A couple of interesting developments happened over the past week and a half. After publicly saying on a number of occasions, he had nothing against masks, but they were not for him, on a Saturday, July 11th trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he wore a mask in public for the first time. Then on Monday of this week, he tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask, with the message

“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”

The message, though not resoundingly enthusiastic, positive or encouraging mask wearing, was still a sharp departure from Mr. Trump’s stance over the course of several months. His grudging acceptance of reason was welcomed by the medical and scientific communities, amid their valiant fight to subdue the virus. All things considered, it’s not even super important that the pressure for his ultimate submission was brought to bear, not by the nearly four million cases in the U.S., or as a result of the almost one hundred forty thousand deaths, but by his anemic polling, and resultant persistent efforts of his re-election team to persuade him to relent. It is what it is. What it is, was more than enough to cause me to inquire, “Who Is That Masked Man?”

I’m done; holla back!

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What A Difficult Choice: Umm, No, Not Really!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is a brief post. I’ve been inspired by memes in the past. But I’ve never, in essence, made a meme the blog. That changes today. There are anti-vaxxers, anti-elites, anti-scientists, even individuals who are anti- education. It is readily apparent that many Trump loyalists are deeply ensconced in one or more, possibly even all, of these factions. Be that as it may, we are, in my opinion, faced with a clear and compelling choice, when it comes to deciding from whom we should seek guidance, as we attempt to extricate ourselves from the morass that is COVID-19, A.K.A. coronavirus.

With that in mind, how to proceed is a function of accepting the advice and counsel of either Donald Trump or Dr. Fauci. Yes, the choice is binary; it’s just that simple. That brings me to the meme. It is framed, thusly:


Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D.:

Graduated first in his class, Cornel University, 1966

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Expert in HIV, AIDS, SARS, Swine Flu, Ebola, & MERS

Donald J. Trump:

Allegedly cheated on his SAT’s

Brother’s friend said to have admitted him to Fordham University

Conceals his grades

Characterized by then employees and a former professor, as:

“An idiot” General John Kelly, Reince Priebus

“A f***ing morin” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“A dope, a kindergartner” Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

“Dumb as sh*t” Economic Advisor Gary Cohn

“The dumbest student I ever had.” Wharton Professor William T. Kelley

In this case, the device provides such a pointedly succinct juxtaposition, no further narrative is required. And, as brevity is the soul of wit, I will restate the premise, and rest my case. “What A Difficult Choice: Umm, No, Not Really!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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All In The Family: Dissing Don!

It’s time to Break It Down!

It has seemed for years now as though, we are living in an alternate universe. However, taking nothing away from the last three years of the Twenty-teens (2017-2019), 2020 has been downright other worldly. When the House of Representatives voted on December 18, to impeach Donald Trump (230-197 on one Resolution accusing abuse of power, and 229-198 on another, alleging obstruction of Congress), no one I know imagined that in six months, for most Americans, impeachment would have virtually disappeared from the daily narrative of news cycles. And not because we returned to some sense of normalcy, at least as far as the Trump era is concerned, but because a pandemic, the likes of which the world haven’t seen in more than a century (1918), has roiled our nation, and the world.

There are folks, most notably Donald Trump and his loyalists, who will tell you full-throatedly, that the pandemic is over. Both he and they insist, that he has navigated the currents of the pandemic expertly, and that he has been right on everything, from asserting the prophylactic effects of hydroxychloroquine, to lauding the curative powers of human ingestion and/or, injection of disinfectants. Keep in mind, that on February 26, Mr. Trump boasted, “You have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. By April 28th, there had been a million confirmed cases in the United States. Today, cases exceed three million, and over 130,000 have died from the disease. Moreover, through yesterday, the number of cases was rising in 37 states, and falling in only 4 states, all in New England. Cases in Arizona, California, Florida and Georgia are rising at alarming rates.

But, as you were probably able to glean from the title, above, COVID-19 is not the focus of this post. The preceding paragraph was just a not so subtle reminder that, as Mark Twain said of his own demise, the rumors of COVID-19’s death, have been greatly exaggerated. But, I digress.

It looks as though we are about to see another Trump-centric book drop, this one courtesy of a family member. Mr. Trump’s niece, Mary Trump has written a new book, entitled, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” It’s scheduled to hit the shelves next Tuesday, July 14th.

As with a number of books about Donald Trump, Mr. Trump, or those close to him, launched a series of legal gymnastics to halt publication of the book. As with John Bolton’s tome, last month, efforts to scuttle release of the book were unsuccessful. Bolton’s book dished about numerous insider details from the Trump administration. Ms. Trump’s insights also originate from a proximate perspective; one based not on political connections, but from familial ties.

Mary Trump is the daughter of Donald Trump’s now deceased elder brother, Fred Trump, Jr. Ms. Trump holds a Ph.D. in Psychology, and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She assails Trump in the book with scathing criticism on a number of fronts, including:

1. Labeling him a sociopath

2. Charging him with willful ignorance and hubris

3. Asserting he used complicity, silence and inaction to destroy her father

4. Accusing him of displaying a blatant sociopathic disregard for human life in his response to the coronavirus, as well as throughout his business career, the handling of her father’s struggles with alcoholism, and dysfunction and infighting within the family

5, Comparing him him to an unloved 3-year-old with a fragile ego, in constant need of bolstering, because he knows he is not what he claims to be

6. Alleging that he enlisted and paid a smart kid (whom she names) to take his SAT, due to concerns about his grades

7. Claiming that Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, accused Trump of using the death of Fred, Jr. for political purposes, by citing it while addressing the Opioid crisis

8. Describing Trump’s rise in NY Real Estate as predicated on his father’s financial support, which was necessary, due to Donald’s shortcomings

9. Citing Trump’s relationship with Attorney Roy Cohn as the catalyst for some of his notable current behaviors, including dishonesty and lack of empathy

10. Characterizing Donald’s relationship with Fred, Sr., as akin to that of the border wall to Donald Trump; a vanity project, funded at the expense of more worthy pursuits

The ten items above are just a few of the nuggets included in Dr. Trump’s book. I’m not promoting the book, or, using this post as an occasion to get in any extra digs at Mr. Trump. Rather this piece is to elevate one more point of view regarding the phenomenon that is Donald Trump. Buy it, don’t buy it; the choice is yours. Obviously, I don’t get a red cent from the proceeds, so I really couldn’t care less. What I am vested in, is spreading the news from any available vantage point about a creditable view of the principal occupant of the White House.

As a counterpoint, White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews, said of the book, “It’s clearly in the author’s own financial self-interest.” She added, of the allegation Trump had someone else take his SAT’s, that is was “absurd” and “completely false.” Considering the many self-aggrandizing references Mr. Trump makes to himself being a big-brained stable genius, this particular point must be one Donald Trump finds deeply irritating. As for Mary Trump’s personal financial interest being served, well, duh! That’s hardly an argument against the basic claims laid out by Ms. Trump.

The first link below will take you to a story that gives more details about the Simon and Schuster book. Clearly, there are a lot of people who want you to know, what they know, about Donald Trump, as we head to November, and the much ballyhooed most important election to date, in our lifetimes. There have been, and will be lots more, books written about Presidents. It’s fair to say there may never have been one quite like this; written by, not just a close associate of a sitting President, but by a close family member who has known the principal, up close and in person, for decades, and with a less than favorable narrative.

No matter what one thinks of Donald Trump, nor of Mary Trump’s motives, she has been privy to some of the most intimate long-term family dynamics of Donald J. Trump. She has told her story, and from all pre-release accounts, it’s not a pretty tale. “All In The Family: Dissing Don!”

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The Governor Signed A Bill: Mississippi Set “To Be Reconciled And To Move On”

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last week, it was NASCAR, yesterday, it was the state of Mississippi. Governor Tate Reeves signed into law a bill that, symbolically, let its people go. Mississippi was the sole remaining state to feature the Confederate insignia in its official flag. 

One supposes, given the independence of states, some state had to be last. For example, New Hampshire, didn’t adopt and observe the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, until the year 2000, fourteen years, after it was adopted as a federal holiday, in 1986. In retrospect, The Granite State acted swiftly. The Civil War ended with General Robert E. Lee’ surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia, April 9, 1865. It took 155 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days for The Magnolia State to relinquish The Lost Cause. Whoosah!

OK, so technically, Mississippi didn’t adopt the flag, which has red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in one corner, until 1894. With that historical caveat, it’s fair to note that the banner waved over the state Capitol Building in Jackson for 126 years. It’s surely less than 155 years, but for contextual purposes, that was 15 years before the oldest living Mississippian on record, Mrs. Malinda Johnson, who was born (1909 in Carroll County, MS), and 11 years prior to the birth of the oldest living American on record, Mrs. Hester Ford, who was born (1905 in Lancaster, SC; moved to Charlotte, NC in 1953). In other words, there is no one living today who was alive when Mississippi adopted the flag that it flew until yesterday.

Governor Reeves, a Republican, had this to say about the change, before signing the historic legislation:

“This is not a political moment to me, but a solemn occasion to lead our Mississippi family to come together to be reconciled and to move on.”

Yesterday’s signing capped a swift referendum on the flag by the state Legislature. The bill passed Sunday. The Governor had committed to sign it if it reached his desk. A commission will now design a new flag, including the words, “In God We Trust,” and without the Confederate emblem. Mississippi voters will vote on the new design in November.

The Governor also said:

“I know there are people of goodwill who are not happy to see this flag changed. They fear a chain reaction of events erasing our history — a history that is no doubt complicated and imperfect.”

I understand those concerns and am determined to protect Mississippi from that dangerous outcome.”

A couple of weeks ago, in my Memorial Day post, I wrote about Old Glory, our nation’s flag, and the various flags that represented the Confederacy during its four-year tenure. Flags, banners, symbols emblems, and insignia representing the Confederacy have long been divisive proxies in American society. As with Confederate statues, the symbols have sparked an element of divisiveness in our country. Critics note that the flag represents the war to uphold slavery, while supporters call it a sign of Southern pride and heritage. Frequently, all of these symbols have been increasingly used as a rallying call for white supremacists. Moreover, the principal source of pride, of heritage, and even the most notable state’s right in the region was the right to own slaves as chattel property. Indeed, if cotton were King, slaves were metaphorically, the mint, working the land, and generating the King’s wealth.

As Americans, we often like to think of ourselves as exceptional. And there is no doubt, both individually, and as a nation, we are home to many extraordinary individuals, accomplishments, inventions, and discoveries. It is in that light, whenever I speak of, or write about the Confederacy, its flags, statues, and array of symbols, it is important to frame the discourse within the context of one simple observation. At the end of the day, no matter how magical anyone may have thought the period was, the Confederacy lost. That’s right, it L-O-S-T! It lost the war, and it lost the right to lord its symbols over the people it tried to claim as perpetual property, and over vast portions of the United States of America, and the many patriots, including slaves, who fought to ensure that such a perniciously evil and capricious system would neither carry the day, nor govern our nation. And when one thinks about that way, it really was not exceptional, in any way, form, or fashion.

Governor Reeves said all the right things. I hope he, and Mississippians of goodwill are committed to see it through to fruition, and that they succeed in avoiding the dangerous chain reaction outcome that he noted some of them fear. I wish them continued blessings, and Godspeed. “The Governor Signed A Bill: Mississippi Set ‘To Be Reconciled And To Move On!‘”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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