Vote ’22: Part 1!

It’s time to Break It Down!

As per usual, there is a cornucopia of topics worthy of elevating to this space today. Mass shootings continue, unabated. The January 6 Committee is interviewing a series of high-profile Trump Lieutenants. The Justice Department is battling heroically to overcome the hedge of protection formed by the privilege barrier protecting Trump’s top attorneys from providing additional testimony. Ukraine alleges that Putin may be contemplating the use of a dirty bomb. President Biden issued a sharply worded warning against that possibility. Inflation rages. Interest rates are rising. Ye appears to be off his meds. Herschel is still Herschel. Covid-19 is still here.

In my humble opinion, while those items comprise a formidable Top 10, in the near term, none of them is more important than the need to be registered, and to exercise your franchise. Election Day is November 8; Early Voting has commenced in most states that allow it. I will use my voice, and this platform this week and next, to encourage you to attend to your civic duty.

Elections are always partisan matters. This one is no exception. The GOP will Biden-bash and tell you inflation and crime are what bedevil us, and…since Joe’s in charge, it’s his fault. Moreover, they will tell you, they and their largely Trumpian ways are the bromide for what ails us. Don’t fall for the okie-doke. They are not.    

Yes, inflation is soaring…worldwide, fueled significantly by the war in Ukraine, the global pandemic, and supply chain disruption. Look around the globe. 

Crime is out of control in Blue cities and states…they will tell you. Not so fast. In a new study from the center-left think tank Third Way, research shows that states won by Trump in 2020 have higher murder rates than those carried by Biden. The highest murder rates, the study found, are often in conservative, rural states. According to the study, murder rates in the 25 states Trump carried in 2020 are 40% higher overall than in the states Biden won. The analysis was based on 2020 data because 2021 data was not yet available.

The current unemployment rate is 3.5% – a 50-year low. There have been 10 million jobs created, including almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs during Biden’s first two years in office, and there are still 3 months for which the numbers haven’t been tabulated and two months left in the year.

Without a doubt, there is work to be done. Democrats are doing that work. They passed legislation, in some cases, without a single Republican vote (just as they did with Obamacare in the previous Democratic administration), including the Inflation Reduction Act, to lock in lower health care premiums for 13 million Americans and lower prescription drug prices for seniors. 

Partly because of the administration’s actions – including a historic release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – gas prices are decreasing. They’re down $1.20 since their peak this summer and just this week they fell another 10 cents.  That’s adding up to real savings for families. Republicans will tell you gas was much lower during Trump’s term. What they will not tell you is, gas was low because of the pandemic lock downs (incidentally, for which they blamed Democrats), and they howled non-stop about how the low prices were hurting businesses. All of that may be true, but d… it, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t complain about it in real time and try to credit Trump for it now. That is, not unless you are now, in retrospect, willing to blame his irrational behavior for making the effects of the pandemic worse. (That did happen).

I didn’t think so!

However, while there is progress, the advances are is at risk. In our vote, Americans face a choice. One that augurs two vastly different visions for America.

As President Biden said of the GOP, “Republican members of Congress are doubling down on mega, MAGA trickle-down economics that benefit the wealthy and big corporations. They’ve laid their plan out very clearly. It would raise your costs and make inflation worse.” 

The Biden administration gave Medicare the authority and flexibility to negotiate lower drug prices. Out-of-pocket prescription drug costs were capped at $2,000 a year for seniors and seniors’ monthly insulin payments were capped at $35 a month. Big Pharma and scores of lobbyists spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to prevent health care savings for Americans.

Many Republicans in Congress are calling to roll back these provisions that lower prescription drug costs – some of which take effect in January. That means the $2,000 cap on prescription drugs for seniors would be gone. The $35-a-month cap on insulin for seniors would be gone. The average savings on health care premiums of $800 a year for millions of Americans would be gone. Republicans would increase those everyday costs. 

Dems are requiring the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share in taxes. In 2020, 55 of the wealthiest corporations in America paid zero dollars in federal income tax. No longer. President Biden signed into law a 15% corporate minimum tax. And no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay more in federal taxes.

The Republican plan is to repeal the 15% corporate minimum tax and extend the Trump tax giveaway for the wealthy and large corporations. That would add $3 trillion over 10 years to the deficit and mean an average tax cut of more than $100,000 for the top 0.1% – those earning more than $4 million. 

Republicans plan to cut taxes for the wealthy, and some aim to cut Social Security and Medicare for seniors. Rick Scott, the Senator from Florida who is in charge of electing Republicans, has a plan requiring Congress to vote every five years on keeping, cutting or eliminating Social Security and Medicare. Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin has proposed putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every single year.

Republicans have even said that if they win control of Congress they may refuse to raise the debt limit and force our country into default unless we yield to their demands to cut Social Security and Medicare.

You are faced with a choice. Vote for Democrats and protect Social Security and Medicare. 

It should be easier, not more difficult, for hard-working Americans to get by. Biden acted to ease the burden of student debt for families recovering from the pandemic. Republicans criticized the move, of course, but it helps working- and middle-class Americans as they recover from the pandemic. GOP criticism was especially tone deaf, considering those same Republican officials voted for a $2 trillion tax giveaway that mainly benefitted wealthy Americans and the biggest corporations.

Many Republicans in Congress want to pass a national ban on abortion. Biden would veto it, but he needs more Dems, and to retain both Houses of Congress. In a best-case scenario, Dems would codify Roe v. Wade in January.

Democracy in America is being tested. “Nothing about democracy is guaranteed. You have to defend it. Protect it. Choose it.” 

Joe Biden is confident that, just as they did in 2020, the American people will again vote in record numbers and make it clear that democracy is a value that both defines us and unites us as Americans. I, on the other hand, am not so sure.

I do however concur, the stakes couldn’t be higher; the choice couldn’t be clearer. 

Tuesday after next, the American people will decide whether we keep moving forward or go backward…”Vote ’22: Part 1!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Slowly, Surely, Inexorably: Truth Crushed to the Ground Will Rise Again

It’s time to Break It Down!

People, including my friends and family…who am I kidding, especially my friends and family, ask me why I write about Trump so often? His adoring supporters would be quick to call it TDS, commonly known as Trump Derangement Syndrome. 

For the record, it’s not that. I write about him, because whether I (or you, or they, for that matter) like it or not, the guy is in the news every day, every single day. And not just CNN, or the NYT, or WaPo. Watch Fox News any day. Every day. Let me know when a day passes without him being mentioned. Granted, he’s discussed in different lights, depending on the media outlet, but liberal, or conservative, he is bound to be the subject of discussion, sooner or later. Every. Single. Day.

Several outlets reported Monday that documents revealed the Secret Service paid upward of $1.4 million to former President Trump’s company, renting rooms for as much as $1,185 a night, or almost six times the normal maximum hotel rate the federal government pays for traveling employees. This seemingly outrageous deviation from standard practices was reported more than once in real time. Each time it was knocked down by various Trump mouthpieces. Who you gonna believe?

House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, called the rates exorbitant. She added, they raise “significant concern about the former president’s self-dealing” and may have been “a taxpayer-funded windfall” for Trump properties.

Rep. Maloney indicated that her panel has sought a full accounting from the Secret Service on taxpayer money spent at Trump properties for more than two years, to no avail. In a letter to Secret Service director Kimberly Cheatle on Monday, Maloney said the committee found over 40 instances in which the agency paid Trump properties more than the maximum government rate to rent hotel rooms, based on records in hand. 

The letter cited one instance in which the agency paid $1,185 a night for rooms when a protective detail accompanied Donald Trump, Jr. to the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort in November 2017. Placed in context, the maximum government rate for the area is $201 per night.

In another instance, Secret Service agents accompanying Eric Trump, also one of the former president’s sons, paid $1,160 a night at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, though the maximum government room rate for the city is $242 per night.

Maloney’s letter indicated Trump company officials claimed they charged only “minimal fees” for government officials who traveled with the former president and stayed at his properties. The temptation is to just add this to the ledger of 30k+ lies and misleading statements attributed to Trump during his time in office. While I’m uninclined to make that case in this post, you are free to use your own discretion.

Eric Trump said Monday, in an emailed statement, accommodations for the Secret Service or other government agencies “were provided at cost, heavily discounted, or free.”

He went on, “The company would have been substantially better off if hospitality services were sold to full-paying guests, however, the company did whatever it took to accommodate the agencies to ensure they were able to do their jobs at the highest levels.” LOLOL!

Special Agent Steve Kopek, spokesperson for the Secret Service said the Secret Service has received the committee’s letter about hotel charges, and “the agency will respond directly to the committee with the requested information.”

In Rep. Mahoney’s letter, she noted, of documents the Secret Service has provided so far, there is missing information, including, other stays at Trump properties. This includes, but is not limited to, Secret Service room expenses at Mar-a-Lago identified in a 2019 Government Accounting report. The documents also do not include any foreign Trump properties or travel after September 15, 2021. The agency continues to provide protection for Trump.

Government room rates are based on average rates for hotels in the area at the time of year. Agencies generally keep lodging costs at or below those rates, with requests to exceed those rates triggering special scrutiny. Beginning in 2017, the Secret Service was granted extra flexibility to exceed government rates when paying for employees on protective details.

During his presidency, Trump reportedly visited properties he owned 547 times, including 145 visits to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, according to the House Oversight and Reform Committee. When it came time for the US to host the Group of Seven Summit for world leaders, he also chose one of his properties, the Trump National Doral Miami, though he later backtracked due to criticism. 

If this were emblematic of a single curious instance of Donald Trump straying from accepted protocols and principles, it would still be damnable, but possibly defensible. A single curious instance? Maybe. But this is not a case of a single curious instance. It conforms with Trump’s pattern and practice; standard operating procedure if you will. Unless you are just down with Trump, no matter what he says or does, and let’s face it, some people are, this requires an interventive reckoning…”Slowly, Surely, Inexorably: Truth Crushed to the Ground Will Rise Again!”

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.

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Quiet Quitting COVID-19: Not A Good Idea

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is a short post, predicated on “the science,” but also on my opinion.

As I travel in my own orbit, near and far, I continue to be mindful of Covid-19. President Biden fast forwarded what his administration had intended to be a gradual assent out of the pandemic era. While the administration had plotted a step-by-step course to arrive at post-covid status, the President declared in a “60-Minutes” interview on Sunday, September 18, that, “We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”

Suffice it to say, the declaration surprised a few people. His own senior health officials among them, many of whom only learned about the President’s remarks from tweets and news headlines.

When the White House staff reviewed the transcripts after the interview was taped, it did not alert its Covid team. It’s fair to say the announcement met with mix reviews internally, but some argued that the virus is in a manageable state, and it was time to frame it as such.

That may well be, but at the end of August, not that long ago, a Bivalent (Third) Booster was approved. The CDC recommends that everyone 5 and older, including people who are immunocompromised, and received a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna, receive a booster dose. 

There are two types of approved boosters:

Bivalent (updated) Booster: either Moderna or Pfizer, given 2 months after the completion of a primary series or a monovalent (original booster or a 3rd dose (only for immunocompromised people)

Moderna bivalent booster is authorized for ages 18 and up

Pfizer bivalent booster is authorized for ages 12 and up.

Monovalent (original) booster: ONLY Pfizer and is only for ages 5-11 years.

While booster doses are available for everyone age 5 and older, they are strongly recommended (by the CDC) for people older than 50, people who live in long-term care facilities and anyone who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

I understand, there are those who dismissed Covid, and others who shunned vaccines. This is not a beat you over the head kind of post. You do you. Consider this one of the circulars in your utility bill…or that you used to get that way, in the event you’ve gone completely digital. Read it, or toss it, at your own discretion.

As for me, good, bad, or indifferent, I’m vaxxed…”Quiet Quitting Covid: Not A Good Idea!”

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.

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(Protect) Trump Or Bust: The GOP Agenda

It’s time to Break It Down!

For the better part of two years, I’ve told anyone who would deign to listen that the GOP is on a mission, if not single-mindedly, assuredly, first and foremost, to ensure that the anointed one, a.k.a. Donald Trump is held harmless for undertaking myriad shenanigans. If that wasn’t clear after two impeachments, both of which resulted in party impresarios all but laughing Democrats out of the Chamber, the fact that 147 Republicans voted to overturn election results on January 6, eight senators and 139 representatives, should have provided enough persuasion. Alas, for far too many, it did not. 

Oh, did I fail to mention that prior to the vote in which 147 Americans elected to protect our democracy, voted to undo it, a violent mob breached the Capitol and threatened the lives of those very officials? I did fail to mention it; and so, did they, in their attempt to overthrow a duly executed election. Fortunately, failure was the GOP flavor-of-the-day. The insurrection/attempted coup failed, the effort to overturn the election failed, the apparent desired assassination of Vice President Mike Pence failed, and most notably, the drive to retain the Magnate of MAGAdom as Commander-in-Chief…failed.

But anyone who’s paid even a modicum of attention to the denizens of TrumpWorld knows they are indefatigable; quit is not in their vocab. And, in the event they thought about it, he’d wave his Svengali-like wand, and they’d be instantly re-energized. 

In the ensuing 21 months, a lot has transpired. Little, if any of it, surprising. A House of Representatives Committee comprised of 7 Democrats and 2 Republicans and investigated the events of January 6. They have held 8 hearings, and are scheduled to hold one more, most likely its last. The 9th hearing would have been held last Wednesday, but Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida during the week, and the committee delayed the hearing. Thursday, October 13, has been floated as the possible date.

The hearings have been Must-see TV for CNN and MSNBC, and not surprisingly garnered little coverage and scant viewership on Fox. That’s as expected, of course. Trump has endeavored to paint the hearings as a form of political vendetta by his political rivals. He revels as such a dichotomy, and his supporters, surrogates, and sycophants eat it up, hook, line, and sinker.

Never mind that in addition to all the havoc he created, or stoked, related to January 6, the FBI searched his estate in July and found thousands of documents, including more than 100 Classified as Top Secret, that should have been turned over to the National Archives. Trump, or his spokesperson is alleged to have claimed all the documents had been returned. Let’s be clear, they should not have been taken in the first place, a review by the National Archives revealed that a great many documents were still missing.

This led to a visit and subsequent search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI. Trump and his most ardent defenders maintained, vociferously at some points, that all the Archives staff had to do was ask (nicely< I suppose), and he’d have returned the documents. Interestingly, it turns out, they had been doing just that since early 2020. The effort to follow that tack continued until at least June 2022. At that point, it seemed apparent that the former president had no intention of returning the requested material. In Trump’s divergent approach to responding, he asked a lawyer to tell Archives that all the material had been returned. The attorney, believing this not to be the case declined to make that assertion. Pretty much simultaneously, in other spaces, Trump just audaciously claimed the documents were his. At other times, he argued he had declassified the material…which he said he could do with his mind…simply by thinking about it. And Republicans claim Biden is operating at diminished capacity.

Dean Obeidallah, in an opinion piece, which appeared at Monday, argued, “If the GOP wins control of the House of Representatives this November, it will become the “protect Donald Trump from prosecution” caucus. That’s the message we’ve been hearing with increasing frequency from Trump-loving Republicans since August 8, when FBI agents searched the former President’s Mar-a-Lago residence.”

Many in the GOP were incensed by the search. There were immediate calls to “defund the FBI” by some highly vocal GOP lawmakers such as Reps. Lauren BoebertMarjorie Taylor Greene and Paul GosarRepublican candidates for Congress from North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and elsewhere echoed that call – all part of an effort to stop the investigation of Trump.

You probably don’t need to be reminded; this is the same GOP that slammed Democrats for using the term “defund the police” after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. But when it comes to the defense of Trump, hypocrisy doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s likely the order of the day.

Last Thursday – with little media fanfare – the official Twitter account for GOP members of the House Judiciary Committeetook matters a step further: During a floor debate on a measure to provide additional funding to the Department of Justice, the account tweeted: “Why would anyone support a bill that gives $140 MILLION to the same Department of Justice that raided President Trump’s home?” 

We have gone from some Republicans wanting to defund the FBI to lawmakers seeking to withhold funding to the DOJ, all seemingly to protect their beloved leader.

Republicans have no qualms playing hardball to defund something they don’t approve of. For example, in 2013, Republicans so desperately wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act – President Barack Obama’s landmark health care bill – that they caused a 16-day partial government shutdown

I have heard for some time that “GOP lawmakers are preparing a buffet of investigations” aimed at the FBI and Democratic members of congress, in response to its investigation of Trump. Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Politico that “we ought to do a deep dive into ensuring that the FBI is focused on organized crime, combating crime, and not witch-hunting Americans.”

Witch-hunting,” of course, is a reference to any investigation into the GOP’s beloved leader Trump.

A CBS poll released September 25found that 65% of Republicans respondents said that “loyalty” to Trump is “important.” GOP leaders get that, and as a result, they must defend Trump at all costs – including possibly hampering an investigation into Trump’s possible crimes.

Moreover, certain Republican lawmakers are talking about impeaching President Joe Biden if they regain control of the House. On September 25,speaking about the likelihood of impeaching Biden if the GOP regains control of the House, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “I believe there’s pressure on the Republicans to put that forward and have that vote.” 

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz joined the impeachment chorus last week while appearing on a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser who was recently indicted in New York on money laundering and other fraud-related charges. Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Gaetz said that impeaching and investigating Biden would be high on the agenda of a GOP-led House.

“If we don’t engage in impeachment inquiries to get the documents and the testimony and the information we need, then I believe that our voters will feel betrayed and that likely, that could be the biggest win the Democrats could hope for in 2024, when it really matters to investigate them and to hold them accountable,” Gaetz said.

The Florida Republican added that if his party takes control of the chamber “bill-making” would be “a far, far diminished priority.”

From Republicans enacting laws barring women from controlling their own bodies to GOP bans on books to the cruelty of how certain GOP governors have treated Latino immigrants seeking a better life, the election will give voters the opportunity to accept or reject such extreme policies. And now, we have another issue to add to the mix: the GOP’s threats to defund or hamstring law enforcement if it pursues Trump.

Anyone who believes that Trump is above the law should obviously vote Republican in November. But for countless Americans who believe that all of us – including the rich and politically connected like Trump – should all be treated equally under the law, the choice is equally clear. “(Protect) Trump or Bust: The GOP Agenda!”

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 relating to this post, consult the links below: