If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, Kemp’s Plantation Lullaby = A Thousand Words Times Two

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last Thursday evening, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed sweeping legislation, which many argue will make voting harder for people of color. In fact, numerous voting activists contend the law will also serve as an impediment for poor and working people. Not surprisingly, Republicans, writ large, dispute this premise, and insist, their efforts, 253 bills in 43 states, so far, are not aimed at voter suppression, but rather, are designed to bolster integrity in the voting process. 

The GOP certainly provides an enthusiastic retort. However, methinks they protest too much. The genesis of this scorched earth spate of anti-voting bills can be tied directly to “The Big Lie;” the assertion that Donald Trump lost the 2020 Election as a result of wide scale Democratic and foreign-influenced voter fraud. This notion was repeatedly debunked. More than 60 courts, many Republican Judges, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected, or refused to hear the specious claims. Republican officials, including Governors and Secretaries of State repeatedly verified and affirmed the integrity of their state’s elections…Brian Kemp among them.

So, let’s put this one in succinct fashion. Kemp actually had the signing ceremony photographed. The picture, one for the ages. It captured an image of an imperious Kemp, seated in an executive chair at a conference table in a stately room, flanked by six White male legislators, three on either side, with a photograph of Calloway Plantation, in Washington, Georgia. It is currently a museum, but was formerly, a slave working plantation, For a law reputed to facilitate Black and poor voter suppression, it is difficult to fathom more powerful optics.

The story would be resonant, even if it ended there. But that was not the end. Outside of the frame of the photograph, specifically, on the other side of the door, a second picture was developing. In this photo, Two White Georgia law enforcement officers were arresting Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, a Black female, for trying to gain entry to the signing and announcement ceremony.

Optics are critical; so is timing. Beneath the cover of darkness, seven masked men (yes, they were adhering to Covid protocols…imagine that), celebrated the signing of legislation that included such novel supposed bright ideas as making it illegal to provide snacks or water to people waiting in line to vote. Can you think of a more effective way to fuel suspicion among voting rights advocates and Black Americans that what Georgia Republicans did last Thursday wasn’t lawmaking. There is a robust argument that it was the 21st-century political equivalent of strongarm Jim Crow tactics to prevent Black citizens from voting.

It’s been said that a single image can supercharge a movement and change public opinion. Kemp and company gave us, not one, but two. “If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, Kemp’s Plantation Lullaby = A Thousand Words Times Two!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:   

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/28/us/georgia-callaway-plantation-painting-trnd/index.html

https://www.newsweek.com/georgia-governor-brian-kemp-signed-bill-slave-plantation-picture-jim-crow-1579220

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callaway_Plantation

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/26/politics/georgia-voting-law-two-photos/index.html

No Reasonable Person: A Sad Commentary on the Fictile Trump Coalition

It’s time to Break It Down!

If 2020 is destined to be remembered as the Year of COVID-19, 2021, early as it is, may very well be recalled at the Year of the Capitol Insurrection. Last week, and again this week, we’ve seen two more mass shootings on the American landscape. In the parlance of contemporary pop culture, that might be enough for some to turn the page. With all due respect to the victims of those tragedies, a story unto itself, I’m not ready to move on.

On January 6, thousands of people assembled at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., for a Trump Rally. Afterward, many of them, inspired by rally rhetoric, changed their venue, and stormed the Capitol, in an unprecedented attack that will go down in the annals of history as the first time the venerable Citadel was breached since August 24, 1814, when invading British troops burned it. On that occasion, only a torrential rainstorm prevented it from being reduced to rubble. The January atrocity was not that devastating to the structure, but it was historic in another specific and notable way. The invaders, “Americans,” who built gallows on the grounds, broke windows and doors, scaled walls, and once inside, took down American Flags. Some of the attackers carried their own Flags…Trump Flags, and Confederate Flags. This is the stuff of never before executed sedition and terrorism. Five people died, as a result, including a Capitol Police Officer.

Trump and his team’s fiery oratory on January 6th were not the genesis of that day’s insurrection. Mr. Trump had promoted for weeks, a rally in Washington for that day, the day Congress was scheduled to certify Joe Biden as President. But even before that, Attorney Sidney Powell had joined Trump in promoting insidious conspiracy theories about election fraud, and a non-existent connection with the late Hugo Chavez and Venezuelan, Cuban, and Chinese election interference. Trump, Powell, and Rudy Giuliani were part of a group that filed over 60 lawsuits attempting to stop the count, or overturn election results in at least 6 states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All but one of the suits were tossed; many by courts with Republican majorities, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority and 3 Trump appointees. 

Caught up in the throes of defending against a more than $1 billion slander and libel lawsuit, filed by Dominion Voting Systems, Powell changed her tune. Using a defense similar to one employed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, in defense of a slander lawsuit against him, brought by Karen McDougal, Powell’s lawyers argued no reasonable person would have believed her. In Carlson’s case, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, a Trump appointee, ruled that: 

The “’general tenor” of the show should then inform a viewer that (Carlson) is not ‘stating actual facts’ about topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’” 

Yesterday, in her defense, Powell’s attorneys said:

“Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims.’ They are repeatedly labelled ‘inherently improbable’ and even ‘impossible.’ Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”

In summary, no reasonable person should be expected to believe the bovine excrement Powell was spouting. And guess what; more than 60 courts did not. Neither did election officials in those aforementioned 6 states. But wait! Who did? Apparently, Donald Trump, 67% of republicans, hundreds of GOP state legislators, and a majority of GOP U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives. I would add Tucker Carlson…but you can’t believe what he says, so who knows?

Erstwhile reasonable people might hope that upon finally hearing Powell’s defense/response/explanation, many of those Republican citizens and lawmakers might default to a reasonable man/woman standard, and let go of those ‘wild accusations,’ ‘outlandish,’ ‘inherently improbable’ and impossible’ assertions, because, they are in fact, wild, outlandish, inherently improbable, and, in the final analysis, impossible. Hope springs eternal. No Reasonable Person: A Sad Commentary on the Fictile Trump Coalition!

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:   

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/22/politics/sidney-powell-dominion-lawsuit-election-fraud/index.html

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/29/917747123/you-literally-cant-believe-the-facts-tucker-carlson-tells-you-so-say-fox-s-lawye

Trump Urges His Band of Compadres to Do the Right Thing; Will They?

News reports revealed on March 1st that Donald and Melania Trump were inoculated for the Coronavirus in January, while he was still President. Not to be confused with shots heard round the world, their vaccinations were closely held information until a little more than two weeks ago. It’s almost as if he did not want his carefully cultivated mass of followers to know that he had gotten vaccinated for what he once referred to as the Democrats next big hoax, and what his zealous throngs passionately argued would go away on November 4th, the day after the Election.

Fast forward to yesterday; Trump, in a Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo, urged Americans to get vaccinated to help curb the Covid-19 pandemic, calling it “safe and “something that works.”

He added, “I would recommend it and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”

“But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.”

All this adds up to Trump’s most energetic endorsement of vaccination, to date. It comes at a time when vaccine hesitancy among Republicans continues to threaten the US’ path to herd immunity. While 92% of Democrats either have gotten vaccinated or want to get vaccinated, Republicans weigh in at only 50%, a CNN poll conducted by SSRS shows.

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their spouses, were vaccinated on live TV. The living former Presidents, minus Trump, were also vaccinated amid significant fanfare, in an effort to promote getting shots for the virus. Trump’s absence stood out. It was immediately contrasted with the recent news of his quietly being vaccinated on one hand, and with the widespread vaccine apathy of his supporters, on the other hand. As he endeavors to remain relevant in the GOP political spectrum, this pivot appears to be his next gambit to ensure that he retains his immense popularity and influence in the Republican Party. He has hinted at being a powerbroker for the 2022 midterms, and possibly running again in 2024, or positioning himself to be the key player in choosing the nominee.

The question of the hour is, will Trumpians, groomed to downgrade the importance of the virus, and to denigrate mask wearers, social distancers, and avid hand washers, be willing and able to make an abrupt about-face and embrace the vaccines? The smart money says they will make the adjustment. After all, heretofore, whenever he says jump, their axiomatic response has been to ask, how high? Why should this time be different? This time should be precisely like all the other times because, as much of a deviation from the norm as Trump’s new advisory is, it’s the right thing to do. For the sake of the health and safety of all Americans, let’s hope that’s enough. Trump Urges His Band of Compadres to Do the Right Thing; Will They?

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:        

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/16/politics/donald-trump-covid-19-vaccine/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/01/politics/trump-melania-vaccinated-white-house/index.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/03/17/trump-urges-his-band-of-compadres-to-do-the-right-thing-will-they/

Vaccinations Surpass COVID-19 Cases: A Stat With Which More of Us Can Live

It’s time to Break It Down!

The vaccination arc is beginning to make its mark, bending toward efficacy. Alas, more Americans are fully vaccinated than there are confirmed cases in this country, 31 million to 29 million as of Monday. Over 60 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 31.3 million are fully vaccinated, according to a Centers for Disease Control issuance Monday. Andy Slavitt, a Biden official notes that 92 million doses have been administered, accounting for 18.1 percent of the U.S. population. On top of that, of sexagenarians, such a me, and septuagenarians, 60% and 70%, respectively have received their first dose, as have 24% of all adults. Additionally, 30% of those over 65, 39% of those over 75, and 12% of all adults are fully vaccinated.

Happily, as one of the more than 10% of North Carolinians who are fully vaccinated, I am looking forward to Friday, which will mark the two-week benchmark of my having received my second shot. Time flies. Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic. It will also be the anniversary of the NBA shutting down. That…was roughly 29 million+ cases and 520,000+ American deaths ago. When viewed in that light, a year seems not nearly long enough to have wrought so much pain and suffering. And yet, that is precisely what has happened.

Here’s a quick summary, courtesy of Yahoo News.

Approximately 1 in 4 U.S. adults have been inoculated and 12 percent can now, the CDC suggests, resume some semblance of a normal social life. Here are some of the numbers emanating from the accelerating COVID-19 vaccination drive:

On a seven-day average, 2.2 million COVID-19 shots are now being administered daily 

0 percent of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine included in the CDC’s numbers as of Sunday night.

44 percent of fully vaccinated U.S. adults, and about half of all adults, are anxious about re-entering normal life, according to soon-to-be published data from the American Psychological Association

25.8 percent of New Mexico’s population has gotten at least one vaccine dose

15.8 percent of Alaska’s population is fully vaccinated

13.3 percent of Georgia’s population has gotten at least one vaccine dose

6.6 percent of Utah’s population is fully vaccinated

100 percent of K-12 teachers are eligible to get vaccinated in the U.S. as of Monday — “though the situation is more straightforward in some states than others,” The New York Times notes

312 million doses (at least) have been administered worldwide in 116 countries, according to Bloomberg‘s tally.

Virginia Tech epidemiologist Lisa M. Lee tells The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is making steady progress in its vaccination drive. However, logistics continue to be the primary hurdle, “everything from secure and simple registration systems to directing traffic at large vaccination events.”

Logistics aside, states opening up fully and prematurely are a critical problem that threatens to stem progress, spur calamitous super spreader events, and possibly even reverse the aforementioned steady progress. Therefore, I enthusiastically urge any and everyone who cares about beating coronavirus to proceed with caution. The vaccine is doing its job. With the right amount of patience, we just might beat this thing, somewhat sooner, rather than much, much later. ”Vaccinations Surpass COVID-19 Cases: A Stat With Which More of Us Can Live!

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-coronavirus-vaccinations-surpass-case-count-jhu-2021-3

https://www.yahoo.com/now/1-4-u-adults-gotten-051400061.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/03/10/vaccinations-surpass-covid-19-cases/

American Conservatives’ Open Political Secret: Fear of the Black (Mostly) and Brown Vote

It’s time to Break It Down!

Arizona. Georgia. Michigan. Nevada. Pennsylvania. Wisconsin. Six states, six Biden wins, six Trump losses, and six reasons why the Brennan Center’s recent report on state voting proposals reveals that lawmakers in 43 states have carried over, pre-filed, or introduced 253 bills that restrict voting access. The reason for this barrage of voter suppression initiatives is both clear, and simple. To put a fine point on, back in March of 2020, when Donald Trump was still and actively participating member of the Twitterverse, he tweeted this:

MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY. WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION. BIG MAIL-IN VICTORY IN TEXAS COURT TODAY. CONGRATS!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

Simplified translation – Mail-in voting leads to more people voting. More people voting means more people voting for Democrats, or if you prefer, against Republicans. More people voting for Democrats than Republicans means…more Democrats elected; more Republican losers. 

Consider what this means, in its essence. If enabling more people to vote means Republicans will consistently lose — well, isn’t that the baseline for how democracy works? The point of democracy isn’t that there must necessarily be two parties from which people can choose, it’s that people can choose. If people chose against Republicans — or against Democrats — that’s their choice. You can’t justifiably limit that choice solely to protect the party itself. 

Typical means used to curb or discourage voting include, limiting or eliminating mail-in voting, early voting, voting locations, voting drop boxes, and the people who can present one’s ballot. Also included are, increasing the degree of difficulty one must overcome in order to cast a vote, for example, by requiring a specific set of allowable reasons to vote absentee, matching signatures, notarized ballots, and state voter ID, to name a few.

Specifically, as it relates to mail-in voting, it’s important to stipulate that there is no evidence that mail-in balloting favors Democrats over Republicans. In fact, there is published research that shows encouraging widespread voting by mail yielded “a truly negligible effect” on turnout and vote share by party. This documentation is not limited to a single report. A similar conclusion was reported in the Washington Post. It noted that absentee voting in Michigan and Wisconsin might actually have contributed to putting Trump over the top in those states in the 2016 presidential election. Huge early and absentee voting initiatives contributive to Trump and down ballot Republicans winning virtually all the statewide races in North Carolina, except the Governorship in this past November’s 2020 Election.

An oft repeated GOP contention alleges that absentee votes or mail ballots are rife with fraud. This allegation is reinforced in two ways: by noting isolated past examples of fraud being committed on a small scale by individuals, and by emphasizing characteristics of mail balloting that seem like they might allow for fraud to occur. Each of these elements was integral in Trump’s poison pill hokum dispensed before the 2020 Election, and his “big lie,” afterward. He created the opening gambit by priming the pump with the assertion that there was no way he could lose, unless Democrats cheated, and he doubled down with the repeatedly disproved perversion that Democrats, foreign countries, and voting machine conglomerates conspired to commit voter fraud, thus stealing the election he claimed to have won in a landslide.

The thing is, he lost. He lost bigly. In fact, let’s give the victor his due. Joe Biden won. He won by more than 7 million votes. He received a record 81 million votes, and he bested Trump in the Electoral College 306-232. That’s the same Electoral College differential by which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in in 2016…when he, not surprisingly, claimed a landslide win.

By now, the events of January 6 are permanently etched in American political lore. Immediately following a Trump Rally at the Ellipse, during which Trump and several of his surrogates pointedly fired up the crowd, urged them to fight like hell, and told them to go take back their government…adding that he’d be there with them (He wasn’t). The crowd, or at least parts of it, morphed into a mob, and the next thing you know, there was an insurrection ensuing on the grounds, and in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, the Citadel of American Government. Despite the fact the events of the day unfolded live on Network and Cable TV, many Republicans and conservatives instantly resorted to some kind of bizarre alternative narrative, blaming the carnage on Antifa and Black Lives Matter, when all who had eyes and watched could see that Trump supporters, hyped by his barrage of lies about a stolen election went to the Capitol to prevent Congress from executing its duty and certifying Joe Biden as President. Weeks later, Mitch McConnell described it this way:

“The people who stormed the Capitol believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the loudest megaphone on planet earth.” —Mitch McConnell 2/13/21

In summary, Donald Trump spent months, on Twitter, and at too many rallies to count, encouraging his supporters not to mail-in ballots, or vote early; rather, vote in-person on Election Day. After Team Trump’s strategic assessment projected that the likely outcome of this tack was a Trump early lead, overcome by the tide of Biden mail-in and early votes, in states where most GOP legislatures had refused to allow votes to be counted until after Election Day ballots. This dire analysis resulted in Trump trying to stop the count in several states where he led at the end of the night on November 3rd (Election Day), but which trended toward Biden due to still uncounted ballots. By the time it was over, more than 60 courts, many with Trump appointed Judges, including the Supreme Court, on which Trump appointed 3 of the 9 Justices, rejected Trump lawsuits to stop or overturn election results. This goes back to the opening. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were states Trump wanted, expected, and most importantly, needed to win. To his shock, to Republicans’ disappointment, and to Democrats’ awe, he lost all of them. All 6 are states in which African American, Latino, and/or Native American voters proved decisive, in favor of Joe Biden. In a nutshell, that’s why Trump and the GOP want to limit voting, particularly by people of color. Without a doubt, this is”American Conservatives’ Open Political Secret: Fear of the Black (Mostly) and Brown Vote!”

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 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.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/state-voting-bills-tracker-2021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/29/trump-just-said-what-republicans-have-been-trying-not-say-years/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2021/03/03/american-conservatives-open-political-secret-fear-of-the-black-mostly-and-brown-vote/