About alphaheel

I blog

Order In The Court: Special Master Style

It’s time to Break It Down!

There’s an argument to be made that second and third hand news is not news at all, just rumor and conjecture. The thing is that’s how news is typically conveyed. After all, when was the last you were at the front line of a war zone, or in a room with the Royals, or at the table when OPEC decided how much to charge for a barrel of oil? That’s right, when you get down to it, what passes for news is handed down by someone, verbally, or in writing, who got it from someone else, almost all the time.

In these ideologically divided and fraught times, often, the version of the news you choose to embrace depends upon the source, and which way you lean politically. How else does one explain after watching a guy flout convention and norms for the last seven years, nearly as many Americans who don’t trust him, are ready to pledge their support and vote for him to be President of the country? Again!

With that preamble, I want to take a few minutes to explore, for your edification, one of the latest episodes of “What Will He Do Next?

Perhaps you know D. Trump sought and was granted a special master to review the documents the FBI seized when they searched Mar-a-Lago. Judge Aileen Cannon, a Florida US District Judge, appointed by D. Trump, not only agreed to accede to the Trump request, but with DOJ sign-off, assigned a judge approved by Trump, to serve in the capacity of Special Master. 

court hearing in Brooklyn yesterday provided an initial glimpse of how Judge Raymond Dearie, the senior judge selected to fulfil the role, will approach the challenge of reviewing materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home. 

Judge Dearie is a seasoned and widely respected jurist. He showed skepticism of Trump’s arguments about how the review should proceed, while stressing a desire to move quickly. His appointment order – issued by Judge Cannon – said he must finish his review by the end of November.

Judge Cannon ordered the third-party review, in response to a Trump lawsuit claiming that the review was necessary to filter out materials covered by attorney client privilege, as well personal items that do not belong in the hands of the investigators. It should be noted that lawsuit may have the ultimate effect of running out the clock, as Republicans expect to wrest control of the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections. If that happens as anticipated, a GOP led House will not only quash the current January 6 Hearings, but will likely initiate numerous hearings on Democrats, and possibly launch impeachment hearings against President Biden because, well because Democrats impeached Trump, and if they control the House…they can. But I digress.  

As Judge Dearie starts sifting through the approximately 11,000 documents seized at Mar-a-Lago, the DOJ has asked an appeals court to revive its criminal investigation into the materials marked as classified, as Judge Cannon blocked investigators from using the seized materials during the special master review. 

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s hearing in front of Judge Dearie:

Judge Dearie puts Trump on notice that he will need to put up or shut up on declassification

Judge Dearie indicated that he would not have much patience for Trump trying to muddy the waters around the classification status of documents marked as classified, especially if he opts not to produce evidence supporting the claims the records should not be treated as classified. 

“If the government gives me prima facia evidence that these are classified documents, and you, for whatever reason, decide not to advance any claim of declassification, I’m left with a prima facia case of classified documents, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it,” Dearie told Trump’s lawyers at the hearing.

Jim Trusty, a Trump attorney, said they were not able to fully disclose their defense until they could see the documents.

Judge Dearie, who acknowledged there was political strategy at play, also added there was the practical issue of what recommendations he would need to make to Judge Cannon. He added, “My view of it is you can’t have your cake and eat it.” 

Judge Dearie emphasizes need for speed, putting any Trump delay tactics in jeopardy 

Judge Dearie referenced his November 30 deadline, already after the aforementioned midterms, as he made clear that the review was going to need to move quickly.

“I’m not going to hurry, but we have a lot to do and a relatively short period of time,” he said. 

He made that comment after the Trump team had sought, in their letter Monday, to push back some of the interim deadlines proposed in a draft plan circulated among the parties. Specifically, Trump’s attorneys objected to a proposed October 7 deadline for them to inspect and categorize the materials Judge Dearie has been tapped to review.

During the hearing, Trusty denied they were seeking to revise the schedule as a delay tactic. (Wink, wink.)

“It’s not to be in favor of delay, we want resolution on these things, too.”

Not surprisingly, Dearie did not seem to buy their arguments on the timeline.

There was tension over whether Trump or the judge should even see the sensitive materials 

Judge Dearie stressed that he took seriously the need to protect government secrets, noting the “very strong obligation” that the government must ensure that highly sensitive information does not get out. 

He remarked that if he can make his recommendation to Cannon about certain classified documents without exposing himself or Trump’s lawyers to the material, he would do so.

“It’s a matter of need to know.” Judge Dearie said, referring to the standard in court cases that is used to determine when even those with a security clearance can view classified materials. 

Justice Department attorney, Julie Edelstein, noted that some of the department’s own investigators don’t yet have the special clearances they need to view the particularly sensitive documents.

Trump’s team pushed back on the idea that they could be barred from looking at some of the sensitive materials. Trusty said that it is “kind of astounding to hear the government say that the (former) President’s lawyers don’t have a need to know.”

Judge Dearie brings a serious and focused approach to the job

From the moment he stepped into the courtroom, there were signals that Judge Dearie was viewing the job seriously and had thought through the task at hand. 

He took the bench wearing a dark navy pinstripe suit; in the role, he is not serving as a judge, but as an adviser to the district court in Florida. 

At the outset, Judge Dearie cut directly to the chase, not belaboring any points. 

“I am going to do the best I can with the time available to us.”

He also indicated he saw his role as limited, as he stressed that he would follow closely the instructions from the judge in Florida who appointed him. He told the parties he was tasked with making a “discrete” number of legal judgments.

DOJ hints it may go to SCOTUS if it needs to

 

While the planning around the special master review is playing out, the Justice Department has also asked the 11th Circuit to intervene in the dispute, and on Tuesday, the government’s attorneys signaled they’d turn to the Supreme Court if need be. Of course, it’s entirely possible Trump’s interests may hold sway there.

The Justice Department is asking for the appeals court to lift the hold Judge Cannon placed blocking the use of the materials marked as classified in the Justice Department’s criminal probe. The DOJ is also asking that those documents be excluded from the special master review. 

If the 11th Circuit rules against the DOJ, Edelstein suggested, it would “most likely consider other appellate options at that point,” raising the possibility the Justice Department could ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

Much still unsettled about the next steps

 

The hearing ended with much still undetermined regarding the timing of the review’s next steps. 

Judge Dearie gave Trump’s lawyers until Friday to say which vendor, among the options put forward by the Justice Department, should be used for scanning and hosting copies of the records for the parties to access through the review. The rest of the timeline has yet to be set. 

After the documents are scanned and made available to the parties, the next step would be for the documents to be logged according to the four categories set out by Judge Cannon, with any disagreements between the parties about how records should be logged then brought to Judge Dearie for his take. From there, Judge Dearie will make recommendations to Judge Cannon for how those disagreements should be resolved. 

The four categories Judge Cannon has laid out are personal documents that are claimed as privileged, personal documents that are not privileged, presidential records that are claimed as privileged, and presidential records that are claimed as not privileged.

If one thing is clear from the early going, it is that in picking Judge Dearie, Team Trump may not have secured the lackey they’d hoped would ease their task. It’s still early, but so far, it appears Judge Dearie is playing it straight. “Order In The Court: Special Master Style!”

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 relating to this post, consult the links below:

https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/20/politics/takeaways-mar-a-lago-special-master-hearing/index.html

Nine-Eleven: Forever Etched Upon The American Psyche

It’s time to Break It Down!

This post appeared originally in this space on September 7, 2011, commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Nine-Eleven.. It was re-purposed and presented September 11, 2013, September 13, 2017, September 12, 2018, September 11, 2019, September 8, 2021 (20th Anniversary), and again today, September 14, 2022.

As I re-post this vintage edition of “Break It Down,” today is three days after the Twenty-first Anniversary of Nine-Eleven. I am ever mindful that it’s both, a day America will never forget, and a day that forever changed America’s worldview. In the span of 81 minutes in one late summer’s morning, in the second year of the new millennium, 19 Saudis grabbed America by its collective gonads, and squeezed. Unimaginably hard. We blinked. We gathered ourselves, but regrouping was a process. We fundamentally changed the way we meet and greet the world. We are more guarded, and security has a whole new meaning. We even invented an entirely new federal governmental agency (Homeland Security) to guard our public security, and monitor anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management.

(From the Archives, September 7, 2011)

Do you remember where you were, Tuesday, September 11, 2001? This week we observed the 21th Anniversary of the day that has come to be known simply as, Nine-Eleven (9/11). That day 21 years ago, America lost, in one fell swoop, any notion of its blissful innocence, its long-standing appearance of invulnerability, and its deeply ingrained sense of security. By some accounts, what it retained is its self-righteous (some would say) belief in American Exceptionalism and entitlement; but that is a conversation for another post.

Suddenly we were at war, and the fight had uncharacteristically come to us, straightway.  This battle was personal, and it was on our home turf; no longer some shadowy ideological military exercise, or guerrilla warfare episode, played out on foreign soil, half a world away.

U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71 was introduced with 22 co-sponsors (11 Republicans and 11 Democrats) and approved by a vote of 407-0 on October 25, 2001 (with 25 members not voting).  The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on November 30, 2001.  The Resolution requested that the President designate September 11th each year as Patriot Day.  President George W. Bush signed the Resolution into law December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89).

On this day, the President directs that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual American homes, at the White House, and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad.  This year President Biden, as President Trump and President Obama did before him, deemed the day one of National Remembrance and Service.

Even after 21 years; more than two decades worth of context building, and development of perspective, the numbers behind Nine-Eleven are chilling.  Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and thousands of others were injured, and many more sustained post-event traumas.  Examples of the carnage include:

2,977 Victims killed (not including the 19 hijackers)

2,606 Killed at the World Trade Center Towers

87 Killed on American Flight/NYC World Trade Center North Tower

60 Killed on United Flight 175/NYC World Trade Center South Tower

125 Killed at the Pentagon

59 Killed on Flight 77/Arlington – The Pentagon

40 Killed on United Flight 93/Shanksville, PA

246 Passengers Killed (on four planes)

658 Employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. (Investment Bank) killed; most of any employer

411 Emergency workers killed at the World Trade Centers

341 FDNY firefighters killed

37 Port Authority Police Department officers killed

23 NYPD officers killed

8 EMT’s killed

Paramedics killed

19 Hijackers Killed (on four planes)

2,996 Killed on Nine-Eleven

1,631 Bodies positively identified from World Trade Center Towers

1,122 Bodies (41%) remain unidentified

Bone fragments were still being found in 2005 by workers preparing to demolish the damaged Deutsche Bank Building 

72 Additional remains found in 2010 by a team of anthropologists and archeologists 

Medical Examiner will continue to try to identify remains in the hope new technology will lead to the identification of other victims.  The death and destruction of Nine-Eleven led to the so-called Global War on Terror.  Mostly the front lines have been in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, a central intent of the action has been to prevent a recurrence of Nine-Eleven-like events on U.S. soil.

The initial thrust began October 7, 2001 when the U.S., British, and Coalition forces invaded Afghanistan, and in March 2002, when the U.S. and Coalition forces launched Operation Anaconda and the Taliban suffered significant losses, and left the region.  In the interim, involvement in the region has ebbed and flowed, but the war, which the Obama Administration referred to as Overseas Contingency Operation, continues. The War in Afghanistan is officially the longest war in American History.  We have for some time been in the “every day is a new record” era.

U.S. Intelligence sources pointed to Al-Qaeda as the probable instigator behind Nine-Eleven.  It’s leader, Osama bin Laden initially denied involvement.  Over time, bin Laden became more emboldened, first conceding involvement, and ultimately admitting that he was instrumental in masterminding the horrific attacks. During his Presidential CampaignMr. Obama declared he would not relent in the hunt for Osama.  The elusive terrorist was thought to be hiding in Pakistan.  Mr. Obama stated bluntly that if reliable intelligence pinpointed bin Laden, he would deploy U.S. forces to find and kill him, which he did on May 2, 2011.

The good news is, over the course of the past twenty-one years, there have been no repeat Nine-Eleven scale events on U.S. soil.  That result is partly due to fastidiously focusing on prevention efforts, partly a result of fortuitous failures of would-be terrorists, and partly a function of the fateful intervention of alert by-standers. Last year, President Trump negotiated an agreement to end America’s longest (20 years) war by May of 2021. President Biden, who succeeded Mr. Trump, committed to honor the agreement. Ultimately, he pulled American troops out of Afghanistan by August 31st. a pledge he ultimately honored, despite numerous suggestions, for a variety of reasons, that he abandon it.

As we place the commemoration of Patriot Day 2021 in the rearview mirror, and twenty-one years of Nine-Eleven related memories with it, Americans are still advised to be on high alert for potential incursions by terrorists, most likely of the lone wolf variety, where one person acts in solo fashion. So here we are, “Nine-Eleven: Forever Etched Upon The American Psyche!” I trust you had a productive Day of Remembrance and Service.

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 relating to this post, consult the links below:

Labor Day: It’s All About The Workers Redux ’22

It’s Time to Break It Down!

This post appeared originally in this space on August 31, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented again September 3, 2014, September 7, 2016, September 6, 2017, September 5, 2018, September 4, 2019, September 9, 2020, and once again today, September 7, 2022).

As you know, Monday was Labor Day. As with most holidays, I knock it down a few notches so readers can enjoy their time off, and ease into a vintage post, if they so choose. At its core, according to the U.S. Department of LaborLabor Day in the United States was designed to commemorate the creation of the labor movement; dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  The holiday focuses on contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

First observed in September 1882, the event has always been observed on the first Monday of the month of September.  Initiated by the Central Labor Union of New York, the celebration became a federal holiday in 1894.

In addition to its formal structure and purpose, Labor Day has several symbolic associations.  It is considered: 

The unofficial End of Summer

The last 3-Day warm weather weekend for vacationers

By High Society standards, the last day for which it is appropriate for women to wear white

The beginning of the College Football Season 

The start of the NFL Season 

The conventional kick-off of the hard-core political campaign season

Backto-School shopping

Labor Day also validates and recognizes an often-controversial mechanism that frequently divides American opinion: labor unions.  

Scorned by many who fancy themselves as Free Enterprise Capitalists, unions and their members have not only been actively involved historically, in debates that framed public policy for American workers, they have won or forced hard-earned concessions that in the shimmering glow of reflective perspective, must be considered to have fundamentally altered the playing field (known as the workplace), including:

Pensions

Health Care Benefits

Paid Vacations

Equal Pay to women

The Development of Child Labor Laws

The 5-Day Work Week

The 40-Hour Work Week

The8-Hour Workday

Worker’s Compensation benefits

Female Flight Attendants permitted to marry

These and many other important cherished and beneficial employee rights are attributable to the efforts of the American Labor Movement.  However, this post is not an ode to Labor Unions. For all their well-deserved accolades, unions also have downside effects.  They can create or contribute to:

The potential for strikes

Additional costs to all employees (membership dues; whether a member or not)

Loss of individuality (ability to represent oneself in a grievance)

Subject to fines & discipline by the Union

Disincentives to productivity and competition

Lack of promotions

Burdensome salary demands (relative to the market)

Loss of profits (and/or pay) due to strike

Inefficient & ineffective contracts

Increased unemployment due to failure to reach agreement w/management

The first Labor Day celebration was led by a Labor Union.  The history of the Day has been linked, inextricably, with Labor organizations, ever since.  But it is the American Worker the Day was intended to commemorate.

Meanwhile, contemplate, “Labor Day: It’s All About The Workers Redux ’22!” While we’ve got plenty of issues to temper our enthusiasm, we should still celebrate America’s Labor Movement, and the phenomenal workers it represents. 

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 relating to this post, consult the links below:

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 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://news.yahoo.com/lindsey-graham-predicts-riots-streets-214521503.htmlb

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2022/08/31/in-these-streets-riots/

Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux ’22

It’s time to Break It Down!

HAPPY 15th ANNIVERSARY “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.

’06!

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 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.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:

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

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

@rickyshifferjr

“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 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.

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)

(Noun): 

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

(Verb)

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)

(Noun):

“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 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.

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 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/2022/08/02/politics/january-6-rioter-guy-reffitt-son-sentence-cnntv/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-60671723

The Movement to Dethrone Democracy: An Idea Capitalized Upon, But Not Created By Trump

It’s time to Break It Down!

On Tuesday of last week, the New York Times (NYT) published a David Leonhardt opinion asserting that the Anti-Democracy Movement is bigger than Donald Trump. Indeed, he points out that on February 24, 2016, someone registered the website http://www.stopthesteal.org. Mr. Leonhardt suggests it may have been Roger Stone, who in 2016 was advising Trump’s campaign, and appears to have coined the now infamous phrase, “Stop the Steal.” Indeed, the time frame was during Trump’s primary campaign, and four years before Trump would get around to accusing Joe Biden of election fraud.

As it were, when the phrase was concocted, it wasn’t aimed at a Democrat at all. Rather, the target individual was Ted Cruz, who, at the time, happened to be Trump’s closest competitor for the Republican nomination. After Cruz defeated the field, winning the Colorado caucuses in April 2016, hundreds of Trump supporters gathered in Denver, at the State Capitol and chanted, “Stop the Steal.” Contemporaneously, the website posted baseless allegations claiming fraud in other states.

This quick history note is lifted from Charles Homans’s latest revelatory story, recently published by the Times Magazine. It focuses on the anti-democracy movement within the Republican Party, and makes as a central point, that the movement to create doubt about elections is both older than many people realize, and larger than Donald Trump.

Mr. Homans writes, “What is striking about the movement around the supposed theft of the 2020 election, is how much of it — the ideas, and rhetoric, even the people involved in it — predate Trump’s presidency, and in some cases, even his candidacy.” Moreover, as the movement continues today, it is based less on the narrow goal of restoring Trump to power, although there is still an element of that, and more on a missionary zeal to put rightwing candidates in office. This, of course, is accompanied by the ancillary benefit of install right wing judges and associated political operatives.

GOP candidates running campaigns this year, including the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania and the nominees for secretary of state (the job overseeing elections) in several other states, do not talk about Trump so often. Conversely, they cast themselves as part of a larger crusade to preserve traditional American, Christian, and conservative values. As Humans expounds, they “see themselves as an American people distinct from the American population — a people whose particular loyalties, identities, and values designated them as the true inheritors of the nation, regardless of what the ballots might have said.

On White Nationalism

Mr. Homans and Mr. Leonhardt spent some time discussing why this anti-democratic movement has become such a dominant force within the Republican Party now. Conspiracy theories have a long and significant history in American politics. But they have traditionally remained on the fringes, of both the right and the left. For example, the John Birch Society of the mid-20th century spread some of the same/similar ideas as today’s right-wing conspiracists. yet few Birchers won statewide or federal office.

What has changed? While there is no single answer, there are a few plausible explanations.

One is that many conservatives — especially White conservatives — feel more threatened than in past decades. They worry they are part of a fading minority. Mr. Homans documents the Stop the Steal movement has strong roots in the Tea Party movement, which began early in Barack Obama’s presidency, and frequently portrayed him as illegitimate and un-American.

President Obama, becoming the first Black president, was a clear sign that the country had become more racially diverse, and seemed destined to become even more so. It also happened as the country was questioning traditional ideas gender and sexuality, and becoming more secular, with religious observance declining.

Mr. Homans interviewed a supporter of Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, after a rally and asked her what she expected if Mastriano won. “I see him stepping in and going back to the Constitution — putting God back in things. He’s about bringing everything back. Everything back.”

Still, this racial and cultural reactionary response is almost certainly not the full story. After all, the U.S. has experienced more intense periods of debate over racial and gender issues — like in the 1960’s — without giving rise to a large anti-democracy movement. Today, several other factors also seem to be in play.

Four more reasons

One is the underlying level of frustration among Americans after decades of slow-growing living standards for most people. A financial crisis, which began shortly before Obama’s election, and the slow recovery from it exacerbated the dissatisfaction.

The pandemic, undoubtedly, is a mother factor. COVID-19 disrupted daily life and caused a further deterioration in many measures of physical and mental health, fostering a sense that society is coming apart.

A tertiary factor is contemporary media. Falsehoods can spread more quickly and be repeated more frequently, via the internet, than for example, the Birchers’ claim that Dwight Eisenhower was a secret communist. Simultaneously, Fox News broadcasts conspiracies to millions of viewers.

Finally, even though Trump’s role may be exaggerated, it is often central. In the past, national leaders tended to reject the conspiracies; in 2008, John McCain famously corrected on of his own supporters who called Obama an Arab. Trump, by contrast, not only pushed the birther conspiracy during Obama’s presidency, but he also declined to push back against his supporters employing it, even though he was forced to make an admission in the 11th hour of his 2016 campaign, that President Obama was American. Furthermore, Mr. Trump proved lies as no other modern U.S. politician has, making them acceptable to people who otherwise might have rejected them. After he ascended to the presidency, using the tactic, many other GOP politicians opted to echo his strategy, or at the very least, refused to denounce him.

That’s the story of how the anti-democracy movement moved to the center of the Grand Old Party. For now, it still revolves around Trump. Sadly, by all appearances, it has the potential to outlast him. “The Movement to Dethrone Democracy: An Idea Capitalized Upon, But Not Created By Trump!”

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:

The Q’s Are Coming: Welcome Omega Men

It’s time to Break It Down!

Those Who Read My Blog Already Know…I’m a PK, a Christian, a pro-Black advocate, a center-left Democrat, a daily exerciser, a Kinston native, a Charlotte transplant, a Bronco, a Tar Heel, a Hornets’ fan, a Panthers’ fan (home team forever), a Lakers’ fan, a  Dodgers’ fan, a devotee of whatever basketball team on which Andrew Wiggins plays, an HBCU supporter, an adherent of annual physicals, a believer in science & the efficacy of vaccines, a proponent of diversity and inclusion, a weekly blogger, and…an Alpha!

It is as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., that I join General President, Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, the Beta Nu Lambda and Charlotte area Chapters, and Alpha men everywhere, in extending a cordial welcome to Charlotte, to the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and their guests, who are about to visit Charlotte to conduct the business of their 83rd Grand Conclave.

For the uninitiated, pun intended, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi are historically African American fraternities. Both are members of a collaborative umbrella entity known as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), composed of seven other organizations, three fraternities, and four sororities, also of African American historical lineage. For anyone who may not know, Omegas are often familiarly called Q’s, as an homage to the letter Q, because of the similarity between the Greek Letter Omega (Ω) and the English Alphabet Q. Together, the nine organizations are collectively, informally, called the “Divine Nine (D9). Eight of the organizations were established during the first quarter of the 20th century; the final current member was founded in 1963. To see the names of the entire D9, and the order/year of their founding, including the NPHC, see the links below.

When the organizations convene in large meetings (National/International, Regional, or State/District), the convening organization hosts a public forum, at which members from the community, and other Pan-Hellenic Council member organizations are invited. The membership of these organizations is composed of some of the finest minds and most influential citizens in America and abroad, and they have been for more than a hundred years.  

Enjoy the warm hospitality and generous spirit of our city. Charlotte is honored to be your host. ‘06!…”The Q’s Are Coming: Welcome Omega Men!”

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Phi_Alpha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Pan-Hellenic_Council

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