Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Taught You! (Edition VI)

It’s time to Break It Down!

Please enjoy a reprised edition of “Break It Down!” This post was originally published May 30, 2012 at:, reposted May 27, 2015 at as Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You!, again on May 31, 2017, May 29, 2019, and last on May 27, 2020…at the onset of COVID-19.

OK, so Memorial Day was earlier this week. You may be familiar with my holiday week philosophy, which is: make it easy on the readers, who are always otherwise engaged, no matter the holiday. Of course, in the process, I am also giving myself a break. That makes for a natural win-win scenario.

With that overarching thought in mind, I will endeavor to apply three elementary rules of communication:

  • Utilize the KISS PrincipleAKAKeep It Short & Simple (also Keep It Simple Stupid).
  • Convey new or “not widely circulated” information.
  • Always remember to emphasize points and 2 above.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday to honor America’s fallen soldiers. It originated after the Civil War. Falling between Easter and Independence Day, it is often equated with a late spring break, or a pre-summer respite.

The weekend typically includes a cornucopia of sports.  For example this week included the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600the NBA PlayoffsCollege Men’s Baseball playoffs, and College Women’s Softball competition, among others.

Historically, there have been a plethora of activities thrown into the mix. As a result, the holiday is sometimes almost lost in the shuffle. That was less problematic this year. But wait; Memorial Day has a special cultural significance. In fact, it is because of that nexus we should pay special homage to this late spring holiday.

The first well-known observance of a Memorial Day type was held May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina. Over 250 Union soldiers that had been prisoners of war, died in Charleston, and were quickly buried in makeshift graves. A group of blacks, mostly freedmen, organized the observance and led cleanup and landscaping of the burial site.

Most of the nearly 10,000 people who attended were freedmen and their families. Of that number, 3.000 were children, newly enrolled in freedman’s schools. Mutual aid societies, black ministers, and white Northern missionaries were also in attendance.

David W. BlightProfessor of American History at Yale University, and Director of the school’s Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, & Abolition, described the day this way:

“This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the War had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”

Professor Blight conceded there is no evidence that the Charleston event led directly to the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.  But the record is clear they formed the earliest truly large-scale event, complete with media coverage.  Their effort was the prototype, if not the catalyst.

Having said that, I believe I honored the rules established above for this post:

  • Told this story in a direct and uncomplicated fashion
  • Presented information I am confident most readers did not know
  • Recognized points and 2, were accomplished and closed the post

Enjoy your bonus time, and be sure to reflect on “Memorial Day: What Your Teachers Never Told You! (Edition VI)”

I’m done; holla back!

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A new post is published each Wednesday. For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:

Another Swing; Another Miss

It’s time to Break It Down!

This one is short and sweet. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat, a Californian, and a politician, aka, the Triple Crown of Republican/neoconservative angst, found himself under investigation, after an inordinate amount of GOP hand wringing, and more than a little bombast. To wit, Swalwell occupied the sweet spot of targets when an Axios report named him in what U.S. officials believed to be an intelligence operation run by China’s main civilian spy agency between 2011 and 2015. It should be noted at the top that Swalwell was never suspected of any wrongdoing.

However, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Swalwell in April 2021, following claims that he had been targeted by Chinese operatives as part of a broader effort to establish ties with US politicians. The Committee had previously cautioned that Members should be conscious of the possibility that foreign governments may attempt to secure improper influence through gifts and other interactions.

A woman at the center of the operation, Fang Fang or Christine Fang, took part in fundraising activity for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign and helped place an intern in Swalwell’s office. According to a letter obtained by CNN, the House Ethics Committee has ended its investigation into Swalwell. “The Committee will take no further action in this matter,” the letter to Swalwell stated.

Swalwell made a statement after receiving the letter, in which he said, “It’s time to move on. The bipartisan House Ethics Committee had this case for over two years. They had the power of subpoena. They received answers from me in response to requests for information. Today, they are closing this matter and did not make a finding of any wrongdoing.”

Not surprisingly, House Republicans seized on the allegations and used them as a pretext/motivation to remove Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee at the start of the current Congress, when they gained a House Majority, and control of Committees. Still, with two years plus, and full investigative power, in finding no wrongdoing, it was, for the GOP, a case of, “Another Swing; Another Miss!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Never Mind Déjà vu: Just “Ja,” All Over Again!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is a brief one. All opinion, no research. Moreover, if you don’t know who Ja Morant is, don’t worry about it. This post, short though it is, is probably not for you.

A couple of months ago, Morant, one of the most luminous stars in the NBA; owner of a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was featured in a video waving a gun. Not a look the NBA wants to have associated with someone purportedly with the potential, if not actually being groomed to be a candidate for next face of the League.

He was forthwith suspended for conduct detrimental to the League and would miss at least 8 games before returning to his team, the Memphis Grizzlies. While away, he went to counseling, or rehabilitation, or something of the sort. 

In the aftermath of that episode, there were howls of derision aimed at the NBA for being overly aggressive in punishing the young man. There were folks who actually sounded as if they felt Morant was somehow a victim, being needlessly harassed by the big bad NBA.

Fast forward to this past Sunday; Ja was suspended again. Similar to the previous time, after appearing in an Instagram Live video, wielding a gun. Suffice it to say, those who tried to ascribe victim status to Ja were mistaken. If anything, the first suspension was an intervention. A little digging revealed the League had unearthed a pattern of dangerous and destructive behavior by Ja…before the first suspension. 

In the wake of the most recent travail, I’ve heard some folks ask what’s the big deal? There are politicians who make ads for their election/re-election campaigns featuring themselves firing weapons. This is both true, and unfortunate. The NBA has a higher standard of decorum than say, the U.S. Congress. To be clear, the League is a business, and it has decided it is not in their best interest to condone or promote a group of mostly young Black men feigning gun play. Consider it a lesson learned from the 70’s and 80’s when even the League’s premier event, the NBA Playoffs was shown on tape-delay, and attendance and ad revenue was down, because the League and its players were deemed to reflect, or closely associated with the drug culture and gang violence of that era.

The cohort of players that represent the predominate contingent of the League will never be viewed as totally pristine. That’s not how 19-30-year-olds roll. But, since Magic and Bird arrived on the scene, The arbiters of League policy and procedure have re-imagined the operation and made the NBA a featured player in the American sports landscape. The League routinely plays a few games internationally, and the playoffs are viewed worldwide…in real time. No one wants to go back. And you can be sure, Ja Morant will not be the catalyst for a reversal of fortune.

I hope the young man, who claimed he learned his lesson after the first time…he didn’t…figures out he;s not about that life, pulls it all together and goes on to have the career that his immense talent suggests he’s capable of achieving. Until then, “Never Mind Déjà vu: Just “Ja,” All Over Again!”

I’m done; holla back!

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Another Day, Another First: As Usual, Not a Good One

It’s time to Break It Down!

We have grown accustomed, if not weary of the seemingly never-ending litany of firsts that former president, and current GOP front-runner for his party’s nomination, Donald Trump, is amassing. It all started innocuously enough. In 2016, he became the first person without either government or military experience to be elected to the office of U.S. President. Yesterday, Trump became the first President or former President to be found liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

Ms. E. Jean Carroll alleged that Trump assaulted and raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1996. A jury of six men and three women reached a unanimous verdict, finding Trump liable on both charges. They did not issue a finding of rape, which Ms. Carroll had also claimed. They awarded her $5 million in damages. For his part, the former President called the verdict a “disgrace, and a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt of all time.” He vowed to appeal.

Over the course of the trial, Mr. Trump opted not to appear in court. Under NY law, that choice was available to him, since it was a civil, rather than a criminal case. He did offer video testimony. During that testimony, Mr. Trump, at one point, mistakenly confused his former spouse Marla Maples with Ms. Carroll. When he was asked to identify individuals in a picture he cited an individual as Maples, who turned out to be Carroll. This was an important SNAFU on a couple of levels. Trump maintained he did not know and had never met Carroll (even though there are photos of them next to each other). He also dismissed the claim, adding that Ms. Carroll was not his type. That dis strained credulity, when he pointed to Ms. Carroll, as someone to whom he had been married.

At the end of the day, after nearly two hours of jury instructions from the Judge, it took only about an hour and a half for the jury to deliberate and reach a verdict. Unanimously!

This was not Trump’s first rodeo. Just a month ago, he was arraigned, and charged with 34 felonies by the Manhattan DA. Last August, an FBI raid at his Mar-A-Lago compound yielded several boxes of classified documents. The States of New York and Georgia have pending cases, with the New York case already on the docket for October. And who could forget, he was impeached? Twice! Last, but not least, the piece de resistance, he was at the center of the insurrection/coup attempt on January 6, 2021.

Please understand, this is not an exhaustive list from the Trump dossier. He didn’t just start being a character, after being elected President. While campaigning, he declared he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and not lose any voters. Way, way before, being elected, he bragged about grabbing women by the genitalia, and further editorialized that when you’re a star, they let you do it. There are numerous other pre-election inflammatory comments and deeds, but for the purposes of this post, that’ll do it.

After his election, it didn’t take long for Trump to find his groove. Inauguration Day was January 20, 2017. It was on this occasion, Mr. Trump exclaimed with great, even if misplaced, pride, that his was the largest inauguration crowd ever. There was only one problem with that assertion. The National Parks Service which takes aerial and ground photographs of major crowd events in Washington, DC, especially Presidential Inaugurations, released photos comparing the Trump Inauguration and Obama’s 2009 Inauguration. Based on the pictorial evidence, it was clear that President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration drew a larger crowd. A few days later when Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, defended Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s attempts to validate Trump’s claim, she extemporaneously employed a term of art, when said Mr. Spicer, and by logical extension, Mr. Trump, had cited “alternative facts.” Never mind that an alternative (not a fact) fact is a lie, or an untruth, or generously, a fallacy.

To say Donald John Trump is an atypical politician is not a stretch. Any other pol with a fraction of the issues that Trump has cobbled together would be an afterthought by now. But no, not Donald. According to most recent polling (before yesterday’s decision, he was the leading contender for the GOP nomination. Indeed, after the Mar-A-Lago raid, he got a boost in polling. I don’t expect this instance to land any differently. His supporters know who he is, and they like him, just like he is. Remember, you heard it here first. “Another Day, Another First: As Usual, Not a Good One!”

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(Protect) Trump or Bust: The GOP Agenda Redux

Break It Down!

Please be aware, this is a reprised post, initially published October 5, 2022. Enjoy…again, perhaps.

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 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 Committee took 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 25 found 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 link: Find a new post each Wednesday.


To subscribe, click 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: