In These Streets: Riots

It’s time to Break It Down!

On Sunday night, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham claimed there would be, “riots in the street” if Donald Trump were to be prosecuted for improperly handling classified documents, an imbroglio which has already led to an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate. Graham joined what has become a cacophony of prominent GOP voices defending the former President, despite mounting evidence to support investigating Trump and his associates.

The search, which numerous outlets have referred to as a raid, was preceded, not only by a duly authorized warrant, approved by a Trump appointed Judge, but also carried out by the FBI, an agency still led by a Trump appointee, and executed under the watchful eyes of Trump’s very own Secret Service detail. In other words, it was far from a raid. The agents did not, as has been frequently alleged, arrive at 6:30 in the morning, or knock down the door. They arrived at 9 or 10 a.m., were escorted through the property, and left an itemized list of the materials they retrieved while searching the property.

The trending theory of the case, proffered by Trump supporters is, this is all just another highly politicized effort to take down their beloved icon…who never did anything but sacrifice himself and no small portion of his inestimable (if you ask him) fortune, to MAGA. Interestingly this most recent drama was led by the FBI.

A word about the FBI:

First, let’s put that into context. FBI is synonymous with GOP. It was created in 1924. In the 98 years of its existence, every director, every single on, bar none, which means including the current holder of the Title, has been a Republican. That this agency is even purported to be the tip of the spear for some premeditated take down of the former Republican President, is the height of a cynical flight of fancy. Pure poppycock!

Second and alternately, what it does sound and feel like is, an all hands on deck effort to save a sinking ship; ironically, a ship that sailed, nearly two years ago. Trump and a few of his most loyal supporters have been attempting to re-run the 2020 Election, and to orchestrate a different outcome. An outcome in which, of course, he wins.

Few things are sadder to watch than a former elected official, who refuses to give it up, after he has clearly lost it. Trump lost the 2020 Election in the People’s Court (aka the voting booth), and in the law of the land’s courts. He lost elections in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. To add injury to insult, he lost court battles in, or had cases denied, dismissed, dropped, or rejected in all those states, plus in ruby red Texas. The decision wasn’t close. He lost, or had cases denied, dismissed, dropped, or rejected in more instances than there are states. His team prevailed in only twice out of more than 60 cases.

I have no idea whether the Senior Senator from South Carolina was correct in his assessment. No matter, he made the call. At this point, all that remains to be seen is whether Trump is above the law, or…”In These Streets: Riots!”

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.

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

Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux ’22

It’s time to Break It Down!


Before launching into the post, it’s certainly appropriate to contextualize my original blog within the parameters of our contemporary timeframe. To do that, I note that post was about a young lion, Barack Obama, coming into what would become his era. Two years ago, the Democratic Party, via virtual Convention, officially installed Joe Biden as its nominee. Whereas Obama was one of the youngest to ever carry the banner, Biden is the oldest. That bit of history/trivia was augmented by his selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. She was the fourth woman to be part of a Presidential Ticket, the third as a VP Candidate, and the first woman of color. Biden had two previous unsuccessful runs. His 2020 effort determined that he was able to register the third time as the charm, while Senator Harris broke the proverbial glass ceiling for women on a ticket. 

By contrast, the GOP conducted its Convention, part virtual, part in person, part in Charlotte, and part at the White House. The virtual aspects of the Conventions were necessitated due to COVID-19. Donald Trump, of course, was the Party’s nominee, as expected (at least by me) he retained Mike Pence, his first term VP, as his running mate. I mention it in passing, because there was speculation in some corners that Trump would replace Pence, perhaps with a woman. While Trump and his loyalists like to brand him as an anti-establishmentarian, the thought that he’d engage in such a high risk, low reward gambit struck me as unlikely. If there were any present-day pol that was unlikely to elevate a woman to his second-in-command, the name Donald Trump leapt out at me. Maybe next time. Enough about the conventions. 

Tempus fugit (Time Flies)!  Saturday marked a significant milestone in the life and development of “Break It Down!”  I initiated this blog August 20, 2007, on a lark…almost a dare.  That was fifteen years (and 782 editions) ago.  Having related the story several times over the past several years, I will not repeat the complete details today.

I will note, however, that on that summer’s eve, I contemplated and discussed, in five paragraphs, the experience, or in reality the lack thereof, of then Senator Barack Obama, as he navigated the early stages of his historic Presidential Campaign.  

So, this was the message in Post #1; five brisk paragraphs and a sign-off:

In an apparent calculated act of derring-do, Obama declares the virtue of inexperience. Gotta love it!

Personal footnote of recollection: I recall Jimmy Carter running the classic “anti-Washington” (i.e., lack of Capitol Hill experience) campaign in ’75-76. You know what, it worked.

The problem was, once JC sent all the reigning bureaucrats & policy wonks home, he was left with an assembly of newbies who didn’t understand how to get things done in DC. The result was that a very smart guy, genuine humanitarian, and erstwhile successful leader presided over what was widely perceived as a disastrous presidency. President Carter’s solitary term was fraught with innumerable policy failures (see the Shah of Iran, double-digit inflation, runaway gas prices, & the outrageous Interest/Mortgage rate morass) and public relations gaffes (remember the killer rabbit, and the failed helicopter gambit).

Fortunately for him he was able to live long enough and subsequently do enough good deeds to distance himself from most of an unremarkable tenure as a one-term president, followed by a resounding defeat by that cowboy actor Teflon guy.

Of course, none of that has anything to do with Obama…except in the unlikely event he prevails. If he does, let’s hope he doesn’t take that inexperience thing too far. As W constantly reminds us, getting to the White House is one thing (after all, he’s done it twice), providing prudent and effective leadership once there is quite another.


Posted on Mon, Aug. 20, 2007

As I wrap this up in 2022, it is with a completely different appreciation for what an inexperienced Barack Obama brought to his job, vis-à-vis what an even more politically inexperienced Donald Trump brought to the job for eight years later. Mr. Obama inherited a fragile country with a downward spiraling economy, a nearly double-digit employment rate, and a foreboding 700,000+ job losses per month. By the time he left 8 years later, the unemployment rate had been halved, to less than 5%, the country enjoyed the longest period of consecutive job gains, 75 months, in history, over 11 million jobs had been added, including 1.2 million in his last 6 months in office, while the Dow Jones rose from a slumping 7,949 when he took office to 19, 887 when he exited. No President controls every single lever that triggers all that happens during his (it has been all men so far) tenure. When things go south, POTUS occupies the space where the proverbial buck stops. Conversely, when things trend rosy, the occupant at 1600 PA Ave. gets a fair amount of the accrued shine.

In that light, Mr. Trump entered office in a much different environment, benefiting from what can rightfully be called the Obama Recovery. Let’s be clear. There remains work to be done. But anyone who suggests that Obama didn’t bequeath more and better than he inherited is full of bovine excrement. Full stop!

With that said, in the salad days of the Trump Administration, he surely delighted his base. At least the ones with whom I have spoken believe he’s the cat’s meow, and they say (whether they believe it or not) he did exactly what they hoped for when they voted for him. I would suggest that anyone who didn’t vote for, or support him, or who is undecided about supporting him, should let that sink in for a moment or two, or twenty.

Team Trump contended Democrats, liberals, the Main-Stream Media, and some nebulous ill-defined entity referred to as the deep state, were solely responsible for all that stymied or delayed even potential successes by the Trump Administration. So, healthcare, travel ban (or whatever appellation one cares to affix to it), Transgender Military Policy, Charlottesville Messaging, the Obama wiretapping claim, the Flynn firing, the Comey firing, the Spicer firing, the Priebus firing, the Scaramucci firing, the Bannon firing, and oh by the way dare I say, his tweets…Can we really blame all that on the Party that held a minority in both Houses for two years, and that held only one House of Congress for the latter two years, or on a media that has no votes, and presumably no say in who Trump hires in the first place, or fires for that matter, or on the deep state, wherever the Sam Hill that is located?

It took four years, two impeachments, the country’s most successful election (by the numbers), and an attempted coup, but Joseph Robinette Biden unseated Donald John Trump. He inherited a global pandemic, a crippled economy, a near 20-year war, and a country more polarized than it’s been in decades. The transition has created a space to exhale, even though the Big Lie still echoes in many corners of our country. Freedom won on November 3, 2020. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the on-going national catastrophe that began January 6, 2020, and still ravages our national psyche. As we continue to see the fruits of a continuously unfurling fact pattern, Trump supporters are increasingly forced to resort to evermore creative renditions of what happened that day. As I like to say, “slowly, surely, inexorably, it’s coming into focus. I don’t know whether it will matter…but we will come to know the fine details of what happened; and why.

Meanwhile, with an evenly divided Senate, if one charitably views Senators Manchin and Sinema as Democrats, and a slim advantage in the people’s House, President Biden’s first two years netted low unemployment, high job numbers support for Ukraine, SCOTUS’s first Black female Justice, the American Rescue Plan, a new gun law, the Inflation Reduction Act, an infrastructure law, renewed support for NATO, a veterans act, 70+ days in a row of falling gas prices (and yes, they were too high to begin with, but that is a global phenomenon), and the elimination of Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. It’s not perfect, but two months ago, there was probably not a Democrat or Republican operative who’d have believed you, were you to assert that Biden and the Dems would be able to check off that litany of items before the midterms.  

With that I mind, I am inclined to look back on the first time I wrote, “Obama Plays the Experience Card,” and conclude that we (who should be a grateful nation) were very well served by that guy from Honolulu. So today, my emphasis is…“Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux ’22! 

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:

Back The Blue…Defund The FBI

It’s time to Break It Down!

In seems like it was just yesterday when every conservative, and every rightwing outlet was at once mocking the left, and disparaging anyone connected with, and certainly anyone who ever uttered the phrase, “Defund the police.” No matter how nuanced the explanation, and no matter how well-researched and thoughtfully articulated the distinction between the words and the actual meaning of the phrase, Democrats of all stripes were affixed with the neck anchor of leaving streets all over America bereft of those designated to protect and serve; the men (and women) in blue. America’s finest, if you will.

Well, glory be, the worm has turned. Over the last 10 days the right appears to have lost its ever-loving mind. From right wing news outlets to the Halls of Congress, the conservative community, at least those tethered to Donald Trump have taken to pretty much any available forum and are calling not only for defunding the FBI, but for the assassination of the Attorney General, and any FBI Agent associated with the August 8, search of Mar-a-Lago, also known as Donald Trump’s, very fine home.

It’s almost as if Mr. Trump’s coterie of supporters and sycophants have elevated him above the law and the land. When Kathy Griffin joked about decapitating Trump (imagine a comedian making a joke, even one in poor taste), his supporters moved apace to obliterate her career. She’s barely been heard from since. Yet, when Trump’s handpicked FBI Director dared execute a legal warrant, complete with probable cause (try to envision the burden of proof necessary to obtain a warrant to search the premises of a dude who used to be POTUS), the virtual mob wanted him, and anyone carrying out the search, killed. I can almost see the Mike Pence’s head nodding in recognition of the fix in which Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, find themselves. Thinking about it in retrospect, the outlandish and chaotic events of January 6 do seem aligned with the murderous civil war that so many Trump acolytes are openly calling for, giving voice and lending support.

And lest anyone be inclined to take lightly this call to arms, just three days after the search, on Thursday, an armed man tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office. The suspect, Ricky Shiffer, had an AR-15, a nail gun, and was clad in body armor. A social media account, bearing his name referenced an attempt to storm an FBI office that day, and also called for violence against the agency. After a standoff that lasted hours, Shiffer was shot and killed.

I’m not going to detail a running list of Shiffer’s social media commentary, some of which ran concurrent to his episodic adventure with the FBI. I will, however, cite one example.

Ricky Shiffer


“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t. If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while”

Aug 11, 2022, 06:29

The message trailed off. It’s likely Mr. Shiffer became otherwise occupied.

To conclude my citation of the social media screed, these three posts appeared on a Pro-Trump Forum:

“Lock and load.”

“Kill all feds.”

“I’m just going to say it. Garland needs to be assassinated. Simple as that.”

It appears, this is where we are. Trump partisans have self-righteously drawn a line in the sand. “Back The Blue…Defund the FBI!”

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.

Definition Of A Raid/Siege: This Was Not That

It’s time to Break It Down!

I am impelled to write about this. There are no citations, no source materials, just my opinion. It’s straight forward; there is really, not a lot to say.

Over the past 48 hours, much discourse has ensued regarding Monday’s FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. I have noticed numerous outlets, especially those that tilt conservative, characterize the encounter using terms such as raid, or siege. These terms carry a negative connotation, and are rightfully, understandably, received as trigger words.

Some non-conservative outlets have also used the term raid in connection with the FBI’s search. From my vantage point, there is one simple, but huge problem with that characterization. Let’s begin by defining raid. 

Raid (Merriam-Webster)


A hostile or predatory incursion

A surprise attack by a small force

A brief foray outside one’s usual sphere

A sudden invasion by officers of the law

A daring operation against a competitor

The recruiting of personnel from competing organizations

The act of mulcting public money

An attempt by professional operators to depress stock prices by concerted selling


To conduct or take part in a raid

To make a raid on

When Trump, who was the first to share the news of the FBI’s visit and search, announced it, he engaged in rhetorical escalation, claiming his estate was under siege, when he declared, “My beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” He added, for effect, I’m sure, “They even broke into my safe.”

For further elucidation, let’s also define siege.

Siege (Oxford Languages)


“A military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside.”

“An operation in which police or other forces surround a building and cut off supplies, with the aim of forcing an armed person to surrender.”

“A prolonged period of misfortune.”

What it was. The FBI obtained a search warrant authorizing it to secure presidential records and or any classified material. In January, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes documents and other items that Archives officials said should have been turned over when Trump left the White House. While archivists continued to seek additional records, his advisers indicated Trump resisted relinquishing the materials for months.

One person who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said agents were conducting a court-authorized search as part of a long-running investigation of whether documents — some of them top-secret – were taken to Mar-a-Lago. That could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes, and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

By all accounts, the visit did not entail, as one conservative commentator maintained, “kicking the doors in.” The agents knocked, were admitted into the estate, and upon the authority granted them by the warrant, performed their investigation. The encounter was said to last roughly from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. There were no reports, unlike January 6, of anyone being gored, shot, or killed, or of the premises having been ransacked. “Definition Of A Raid/Siege: This Was Not That!”

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.

Chickens Coming Home To Roost: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably

It’s time to Break It Down!

Much of the on-going focus on January 6 has revolved around the hearings. Depending upon which side of the (political) aisle one resides, the view of the results of the hearings has been, either, an extended yawn fest (right wing Trump-fawning election deniers…most of whom claim they really haven’t watched) or riveting must-see TV (left leaning Biden-voting Citadel of democracy defenders, many of whom have been left with out-sized expectations). I write these descriptions without passing judgment. I think folks on each side of the divide would recognize themselves, and challenge others to explain, “What’s wrong with that?” If anything, they’d be more likely to challenge the adjectives ascribed to those on the other side. At least those on the right would…in my opinion.

We are beginning to see another category of interested parties emerge. Early on, most of the people tried and convicted for the roles they played in the insurrection/coup attempt were given minimal sentences. There was a sense that a mere slap on the wrist was the order of the day. When all is said and done, there may still be more of those, than sentences of real consequence. However, one thing has become clear. Even if cupcake sentences are the rule, there will be exceptions to the norm.

Guy Reffitt was sentenced on Monday for five felony counts, including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress; trespassing at the Capitol while carrying a holstered semiautomatic handgun; interfering with police in a riot; and witness tampering. Guy’s wife Nicole insisted repeatedly that Guy was, “Just all talk, and wouldn’t hurt anyone.” Maybe so, but on Monday, Guy officially joined the ranks of the, “About These Streets,” as Judge Dabney Friedrich sentenced him to seven years and three months, or, to put it in the parlance of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, 87 months.

Reffitt’s involvement in the events of January 6, and his subsequent trial, conviction, and sentencing provide not only keen insight into the general mind set of Trump supporters who came to Washington on J6, but also levels a specific object lesson for people who like Reffitt, opted or who will opt to reject a plea deal and instead push their case to the courts. The keen insight revealed that Trumpers wanted to be there, and they believed Trump wanted them to come to Washington to help him…”Stop the (alleged) Steal.” The specific object lesson disclosed that there is ample, in fact, preponderant) evidence, in video, audio, and digital formats, for the government to prove its case, and unless one wants to be a martyr, or one is content to wait for Trump’s “re-election” to be pardoned, it behooves one to cooperate, and take the deal. In Reffitt’s case in particular, the volume of evidence of this bragging – detailed in texts, videos, and audio – convinced jurors of his guilt, in a unanimous verdict on all counts, in March, after less than four hours of deliberations.

That brings me to the next point. How did we get here? Jackson, the son of Guy Reffitt, the first US Capitol riot defendant to go to trial rather than take a plea agreement, said his father “absolutely” deserves the 87-month prison sentence that was handed down Monday. Reffitt, who was sentenced Monday, had been convicted by a DC jury in March of five felonies — wanting to obstruct the congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election, transporting guns into DC, carrying a handgun onto Capitol grounds, interfering with Capitol Police protecting the Upper West Terrace and obstructing justice by threatening his daughter and son, who had turned him into the FBI.

Prosecutors played the audio in court from one of the videos Reffitt taped on January 6 at the Capitol. In the recording, Guy Reffitt talked about the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, referring to her in abusive language while speaking of a vague plan for “dragging” her out of the Capitol.

During the trial, Capitol Police officers testified about battling Guy Reffitt outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and prosecutors called him a leader of the crowd. He also recorded a video on January 6 in which he made threatening comments about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Weeks before Guy Reffitt drove from his hometown of Wylie, Texas, to Washington DC to storm the US Capitol, his son Jackson, 18 at the time, had already tipped-off the FBI.

It was a string of messages from his father on Christmas Eve to the family text chain that alarmed Jackson. In them, the older Reffitt announced his intention to go to the nation’s capital “to rise up the way the Constitution was written”.

During his testimony, Jackson said that he reported his father to the FBI because he was worried about his plans.

“We took the United States Capitol,” he texted his family after the siege. “We are the Republic of the People.”

When he returned home to Texas, Guy Reffitt spoke with his son and other members of his family about his experiences. He bragged about his role in the Capitol assault, said Jackson in his testimony.

“I started the fire,” Guy Reffitt told his family. He did not know that his son was secretly recording him on his mobile phone.

He threatened his son, warning him not to tell the authorities.

“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,” his father told Jackson. “And traitors get shot.”

After the verdict, Nicole claimed her husband was used as an example to make all the one-sixers (6 January defendants) take a plea. “Do not take a plea one-sixers,” she urged, “we got this.”

Nathan Reffitt, Guy’s brother, a 50-year-old electrician, called Jackson a “snowflake” and overly sensitive.

“My nephew turned against his father. It’s sad that our country has come to this.”

Jackson, meanwhile, tweeted that it was “impossible to be happy” about the verdict. “My father could have possibly been home by now getting mental help if he took a plea deal.”

Peyton and Sarah Reffitt, Guy’s daughters, took to Twitter and assailed Donald Trump. Sarah lamented her father’s treatment, observing that Trump might be elected again. Meanwhile, Peyton asserted that if their father got that long a sentence, Trump, whom she had previously noted was whose “name was on the flags,” deserves a life sentence. “Chickens Coming Home To Roost: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!”

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.

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