Now Is The Time For All Of Us To Come To The Aid Of Our Country!

It’s time to Break It Down!

In 1918, Charles E. Weller created the phrase, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the country.” Sidebar: That it was less than two decades out of the 19th century, we can overlook the phrase not including, “and women. “While it may be tempting, given the timing (the end of World War I), to believe those 16 words were the foundation for a patriotic rallying cry for Americans at the war’s end, the true and underlying story is significantly less dramatic. In reality, Mr. Weller was neither a conquering general, nor a pontificating politico. He was a teacher; his subject, typing. The phrase was popularized as a typing drill, and its use extended at least 50 years, as I was familiarized with it in my 1968 Typing Class. Thank you, Mr. Weller (and Mrs. McCullough).

Fast forward another 50 years or so, 51 years, to be precise, and we find ourselves at a critical point in our history. If you live in North Carolina, today is the first day of One Stop Absentee Voting, colloquially known as Early Voting. From now until November 5th, Election Day, I do not believe I can convey any more important message than VOTE!

Yes, I know it’s not a Presidential Election; it’s not even a midterm. Yet, it’s important for several reasons.

First and foremost, people were beaten, tortured, and killed, all in an effort to fight for, and eventually earn the right for We The People, all of us, not just male, landed aristocrats, to exercise the franchise. We should be irresistibly forceful in our insistence on voting, each and every time the opportunity avails itself.

Second, in North Carolina alone, men and women will be elected to office in 503 cities, towns, and villages, nine school districts, and 17 special districts. It is often asserted that for all the talk about the Presidency, for most of us, the most impactful politicians are those on the local level. Don’t get lost in the sauce and miss the simple and truthful elegance of that truism.

Third, there are any number of people and groups who have invested heavily in making it more difficult for you to vote, and by you, I mean persons duly authorized to vote, but whom are often presented with special challenges to do so. This is an age-old ruse, and has included a wide array of pernicious tools, e.g., property ownership, poll taxes, reading/writing tests, and famously, being required to recite the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, verbatim. The current iteration features voter suppression tactics, including voter intimidation, reduction of the number and/or varying the location of voting sites, and widespread misinformation about the location of polling places…to name a few.

Fourth and finally, voting is akin to a muscle. The best way to grow one’s propensity to vote…is to use it. The more one votes, the more likely one is to vote the next time the opportunity presents itself. Unlike with Mr. Weller, this is not a test, typing or otherwise. We are perilously positioned on the precipice. More than anytime in recent memory, “Now Is The Time For All Of Us To Come To The Aid Of Our Country!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click 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 inbox.

Consult the links below to learn more about this post.

https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting-options/one-stop-early-voting

https://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_elections,_2019

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/10/16/now-is-the-time-for-all-of-us-to-come-to-the-aid-of-our-country/

 

POTUS The Great: One Smart Dude…Just Ask Him!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Donald Trump tweeted the following on Monday (two days ago):

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…

141K

11:38 AM – Oct 7, 2019

I don’t believe there is anything I can say to clarify or further elucidate what the Commander-in-Chief said in a policy statement (yes, in this administration, Trump’s twitter is accorded U.S. policy status), vis-vis one of our NATO allies. To that end, I conclude this post. “POTUS The Great: One Smart Dude…Just Ask Him!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click 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 inbox.

Consult the links below to learn more about this post.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/07/donald-trump-unmatched-wisdom-syria-tweet/3898498002/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/10/09/potus-the-great-one-smart-dude-just-ask-him/

 

 

 

Las Vegas Shooting Two Years Later: Opportunity Still Lost

It’s time to Break It Down!

This post is a lightly edited and updated version of the edition I wrote for this space a year ago, in observance of what has become known simply as the Las Vegas shooting. The frequency of mass shootings in America has reached such a ridiculously epidemic pace and volume until it is actually normal to identify them by their location and expect that the odds are good many if not most people will recognize the horror of which you speak. Columbine, Aurora, New Town, Charleston, Orlando, Parkland, and Las Vegas are just a few pertinent examples.

Yesterday was October 1st. Two years earlier, 64 year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire on an outdoor festival in Las Vegas from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino across Las Vegas Boulevard during the closing performance by singer Jason Aldean. By the time the shooting stopped eleven minutes later, Paddock had unleashed what is considered the deadliest firearms assault in American history. Incidentally, it displaced the previous record of 49, attributed to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting at the Pulse Night Club. The toll: 58 fatalities (including Paddock) and 527 injuries.

Paddock had spent three days in his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Using that location as his operations center, he assembled a cache of weaponry that included at least 23 firearms (22 rifles and one handgun) inside the hotel. Some of the rifles were altered from semi-automatic to automatic, using devices known as bump stocks. Once altered, the rifles functioned with the rapid-fire action of machine guns. As police continued investigating the case, they discovered Paddock had at least 47 guns, explosives, and several thousand rounds of ammunition. Let’s not delude ourselves, or others, by saying he snapped. And…if you are an NRA member, or a hard core Republican, then by all means, let’s not even think of introducing the subject of access to firearms, or improved gun legislation into the discourse matrix, because as they have told us for decades, guns don’t kill people; (mentally disturbed) people do.

Paddock used a hammer-like object to break two windows in the suite, from which he launched repeated barrages of gunfire on unsuspecting fans at the concert. The rapidity with which the bullets rained down on the venue created a level of confusion that made it impossible for those taking fire to discern from whence the attack was emanating. If ever there was one, this is an American made tale of woe.

As I noted in this space two years ago, it may surprise some to know, I am an NRA member, a life member, in fact. I maintain an up-to-date CCP…or Concealed Carry Permit, and have qualified for, and held a permit to provide security services. I am not your prototypical “anti-gun” guy. However, I do believe easy access to firearms contributes to the health crisis that is gun violence in America.

Which more or less brings me to my point. After the Vegas tragedy, there was an audacious hue and cry for some kind of action on the gun legislation front. As is frequently the case, in the immediate wake of rampant gun violence, such as in Aurora, or Newtown, or Orlando, the national conversation is so robust, until there is a temptation to believe the discourse might lead to a change in gun laws. In the case of Las Vegas, the chief target was bump stocks.

Following the incident, Donald Trump, several members of Congress, and even the NRA mouthed support for banning bump stocks. They have one purpose; to elevate the degree of carnage that it’s possible to unleash on human beings. Yet, 367 days later, they are still legal instruments of pain and suffering. Meanwhile, we find ourselves immersed in a nationwide discussion about the fate of Brett Kavanagh, as the trio of Trump, Graham, and McConnell endeavor to explain to us how Judge Kavanagh has had his life ruined — because of a Clinton conspiracy — to hold him accountable for his actions. Contemporaneously, Don, Jr. has exclaimed that in this environment, he is more concerned about the fate of his young boys, than that of his young girls…presumably because he fears it’s more likely that some woman will falsely accuse his sons, than it is that a man might attack or abuse his daughters. Just for the record, statistics belie his perception, but that’s an e conversation for another time. Conspiracy theories and alternative facts are definitely a thing (or two things) that resonate(s) repeatedly when discussing the Trumps.

The Kavanagh imbroglio was certainly worth its own space. It was a weighty matter in its own right, and the outcome could alter the trajectory of SCOTUS decisions for decades. I hope it is resolved in an appropriate way. In a way that renders the least onerous outcome on all of us. But in terms of today’s subject, it was simply another distraction.

I am fond of noting, elections have consequences. And they do. Enormous consequences. The Las Vegas shooting created a dynamic that could have led to altering the landscape of the acquisition of some of the most dangerous and destruction-causing firearms accessories available to man. There are many considerations worth being mindful of as we approach November 6TH, Election Day. I submit to you, few are more important than electing people who exhibit the courage to take on the gun lobby. Let me be clear, gun legislation is not a magic bullet. In a land with way more than 300 million firearms, more guns than people by most estimates, new legislation will not make the carnage disappear. Howsumever, It could very well be a step in the right direction. In a logic-driven world, Rule #1 is, if you find yourself in a hole, cease and desist digging! Post haste.

Banning bump stocks didn’t take a single existing device out of circulation. What it did do was stop adding to the plethora of mechanical accelerants for semi-automatic rifles. That did not end the story. But it was step 1, a small step at that, in curbing mass violence. That one act stands as a poignant memorial to the 58 lives lost, and the 527 men and women wounded by Stephen Paddock. It took two and a half months to find the courage to do the right thing.

This summer, August 3rd and 4th, to be precise, in one weekend, two mass shootings occurred, one in El Paso, Texas, and one in Dayton, Ohio, claiming 32 lives (22 in El Paso and 10 in Dayton, and injuring 51, 24 in El Paso and 27 in Dayton. After those August 2019 shootings, once again, fitful spurts of activity ensued, once again, without a lot to show in tangible results.

Some of the current inaction is attributable to the fact Congress was in Recess, and the Senate Majority Leader opted not to call the Senate back into Session. By the time Congress’ six-weeks hiatus had ended, much of the energy and national urgency to do something had waned. This is precisely what opponents of taking action calculated.

There is still an outside chance that Congress will pass something before the end of the year, and possibly, before the election. If anything is certain, it will be a minor piece of legislation. Once again, We The People, a majority of whom favor taking action, appear to be on the path to being thwarted by the deep pockets of the NRA/gun lobby. And no, like the Kavanaugh spectacle of a year ago, the impeachment debate does nothing to promote efforts on this front. Although, for once, I imagine Mr.. Trump might actually prefer the comparatively friendly confines of NRA support in stonewalling firearms legislation rather than the specter of impeachment. But I digress. That was last week’s epistle.

As you know, Congress is not on the ballot next month. But, thousands of local elected officials all across America are facing the power of the ballot. To that end it’s in your (voters) hands. Make your desires known, and most importantly, vote in a matter aligned with your interests.

In many ways, on this front, not much has changed in the two years since Stephen Paddock rained deadly terror on Las Vegas concertgoers. However, it is up to us to be the change we believe in. Meanwhile, we are left with the stark and challenging realityLas Vegas Shooting Two Years Later: Opportunity Still Lost!” Can we engage the issue and change that narrative before yet another year has passed?

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click 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 inbox.

Consult the links below to learn more about this post.

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/10/03/las-vegas-shooting-one-year-later-opportunity-lost/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/18/politics/bump-stocks-ban/index.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/10/02/las-vegas-shooting-two-years-later-opportunity-still-lost/

 

Moving On: Nan Relents

It’s time to Break It Down! 

It has been quite a week (for me). For the first time in nearly 24 years, I have a new address and phone number, and a great deal more importantly, for the first time in nearly 21 years, there is news of an impeachment inquiry of an American President. People move all the time, and some folks change phone numbers more frequently than snakes molt, or for those of us who are just not that into Ophiology (the study of snakes), shed their skins. Contrast that with the fact that in 230 years, only two Presidents have been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868, and 130 years later, Bill Clinton (1998). To be clear, an inquiry doesn’t mean there will be an impeachment, but given the make-up of the current House of Representatives, there is a strong likelihood that the process would not have advanced this far, were the outcome were not all but predictable.

Having said that, my estimation is that when the dust settles, the House will adopt articles of impeachment. Moreover, owing my bias, in my view, it couldn’t happen to a nicer (read that more deserving) fellow. Of course, what is equally clear (to me) is that the U.S. Senate, also given its composition, is certain to reject any proposed indictment of Donald Trump quicker that one can say or spell Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, the longest word (45 letters) in most major English Dictionaries. The hyper-partisan divide in the American body politic is palpable. In our contemporary USA, no subject is more likely to detonate the fractiousness that accompanies that chasm than Donald Trump.

Nancy Pelosi, in announcing a formal impeachment inquiry yesterday said:

“Today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution.”

Suffice it to say; there are many Democrats, liberals, independents, and even a few Republicans (his supporters write those off as Never Trumpers), who will argue Speaker Pelosi is late to the party. The Truth is Pelosi had been attempting to strike a delicate balance between her multidimensional Party’s varied interests. She frequently cited that the catalyst for Democrats regaining control of the House last November was it’s centrist messaging on healthcare (save and preserve Obamacare, e.g.), along with noting that most of the 40 seats Democrats picked up were in the suburbs where Trump made hay, unexpectedly, in 2016. In direct opposition to that narrative stood, among a few others, four women collectively known as The Squad, (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY, the best known of the four, Ilhan Omar, MN, Ayanna Pressley, MA, and Rashida Tlaib, MI); all of whom have figuratively shouted from the mountaintops that they believed Trump’s actions warranted impeachment.

Frequently, it appeared there was a schism in the Democratic Party, tied, implacably, to the I-word. As more of Ms. Pelosi’s Caucus came out in favor of upping the ante, it because more difficult, and finally perhaps simply untenable for the Speaker to swim upstream on the issue. Yesterday, she relented.

Meanwhile, as the march toward an impeachment inquiry, which was likely inexorable, continues, Trump carries on, seemingly oblivious to increasing concerns about his words, actions, policies, and indeed, whether he is in anyway tethered to reality. His rapid fire and boundless capacity to speak untruths and with a straight face, deny he said what he obviously said (because We The People have the receipts/there is often accompanying video/audio) doesn’t help his case. That is, unless you ask him, and his supporters. Team Trump will respond, “Obama said you can keep your doctor. With Trump well into the 5 digits, (over 12,000 lies in less than 3 years), deflecting to a pledge Obama made that was blocked by a recalcitrant GOP, is the ultimate in milquetoast responses. Of course, that hasn’t stopped…or even slowed Team Trump. Rather, they seemed committed (excuse the football metaphor) to run a sweep to the right side until the other team can stop them.

Well, it may not be successful, but alas, the Dems have formulated a defense. Increasingly, I am less concerned about the specific outcome than than I am about seeing that someone is at least making an effort to preserve the concepts that were once widely viewed as the key strengths of our nation. Instead of raising the oft-repeated reprise of America, the exceptional nation, let’s call upon the nation that enslaved Africans, forced Native Americans across the Trail of Tears, burned down Black Wall Street (in Tulsa), lynched African Americans across the country, especially in the South, made redlining de rigueur, established Jim Crow as par for the course, and legitimized denying VA benefits to black soldiers returning home from World War II, to just be better. Own up to those and innumerable other wack, inhumane, and deleterious practices as being central to developing this country into the economic behemoth that it is, and yes, in a very un-Trump-like fashion, do the right thing, and apologize. But I digress.

Nancy Pelosi was right to resist her Party’s nascent urge to impeach Trump because he spoke in a bullying fashion, or even that he lied profusely. But, she is just a right to embrace impeaching a man who sides with Putin over American intelligence agencies, even when they are led by “the best people,” whom, incidentally, he chose. She is right to lend the authority of her office to impeaching a man who sought the aid of another country in investigating a political opponent.

Let’s be clear on this point. Politically this step has risky political implications. Many Democrats…and Republicans recall that the 1989 GOP House impeachment of Bill Clinton actually left him stronger. While it’s conceivable, Trump could turn this move into a winning hand, and totally certain he will try to spin it as the outgrowth of an angry left wing mob suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, and unable to get over having lost an election (he will say they should have won…which is interesting in itself), there comes a time to stand up and be counted upon to defend the principles one says one stands upon. Madame Speaker is saying that time is now. I concur. “Moving On: Nan Relents!”

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/2019/09/24/politics/democrats-impeachment-strategy/index.html

https://www.msnbc.com/deadline-white-house/watch/trump-asked-ukraine-to-investigate-biden-s-son-multiple-times-69509189702

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Squad_(United_States_Congress)

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/24/politics/john-lewis-donald-trump-impeachment/index.html

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

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

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/25/moving-on-nan-relents/

 

Tony, Tony, Tony: For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow!

It’s time to Break It Down!

It’s not often I write about a college basketball program other than North Carolina, or a current college basketball coach other than Roy Williams…unless it’s his mentor, Dean Smith. But in less than six months, I find myself drawn to what I believe to be a compelling story about Virginia Cavaliers’ head basketball coach, Tony Bennett.

I’ll make the post a brief one, but note, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Ergo, even though today’s post is short, the point is weighty. Others in similar positions might do well to take note of Coach Bennett’s lead.

Suffice it to say, Tony Bennett (the basketball coach) works in a high profile, high-pressure profession; one for which he is well compensated. He reportedly earned (according to a USA Today data base) $4.15 million this year. Still, as is customary, after leading his team the collegiate NCAA Division I College Basketball National Championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The University’s President and Athletic Director offered Bennett a raise. You may recall, I wrote about the Hoo’s winning their first hoops Title, and about the entire Final Four in the April 10th edition of “Break It Down,” (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/04/10/from-outhouse-to-penthouse-hoos-win/).

In what was not such a usual practice, Bennett opted to decline the raise, and instead asked the university to in effect, spread the wealth. In a written statement released by the University, he said:

“I have more than enough, and if there are ways that this can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much (in men’s basketball), that’s my desire.”

Bennett urged the AD to increase compensation for his coaching staff, and to fund other improvements to the basketball program in lieu of giving him a big raise. He and his wife also pledged $500,000 to a program to support current and former UVA players’ career development. He did accept a one-year extension to his current contract, which now runs for seven years.

Not surprisingly, Jim Ryan, UVA President was ecstatic about his hoops coach’s decision. He added:

“Tony’s decision — to turn down a well-deserved raise and instead invest in his players and UVA athletics more broadly — tells you everything you need to know about him as a leader and as a human being.

Tony is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met, and this is just the latest example. He and Laurel show us what it means to be great and good, and I hope they will continue to be a part of the UVA family for many years to come.”

To be sure, Bennett is an exemplar of leadership. Almost any school would be proud to claim a coach with his accomplishments and character. It is clearly in UVA’s best interest to hold onto him, and it’s equally apparent Mr. Ryan and others at UVA recognize that, and are making every effort to ensure the relationship remains not only firmly intact, but cemented for long term.

There is probably more that could be said, but much of it would border on being redundant. Moreover, in keeping with my commitment to brevity, I herewith conclude…”Tony, Tony, Tony: For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow!”

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/2019/09/17/us/tony-bennett-virginia-raise-trnd/index.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/18/tony-tony-tony-for-hes-a-jolly-good-fellow/

 

Nine-Eleven: Eighteen Years Later

It’s time to Break It Down!

(This post appeared originally in this space on September 7, 2011. It was re-purposed and presented September 11, 2013, September 13, 2017, September 12, 2018, and today, September 11, 2019).

I am re-posting a past “Break It Down” entry. Today is the Eighteenth Anniversary of Nine-Eleven; a day America will never forget.  With that in mind, I ask that you please spend a few minutes directing your attention to the horror that was September 11, 2001, and also to the respectful memory and contemplation of its many victims.

(From the Archives, September 7, 2011)

Do you remember where you were, Tuesday, September 11, 2001? Today we observe the 18th Anniversary of the day that has come to be known simply as, Nine-Eleven (9/11). That day 18 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 Trump, as President Obama did before him, deemed the day one of National Remembrance and Service.

Even after more than a decade and a half, with eighteen years 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 trauma.  Examples of the carnage include:

  • 2,977 Victims killed (not including the 19 hijackers)
  • 2,606 Killed at the World Trade Center Towers
  • 125 Killed at the Pentagon
  • 40 Killed in Shanksville, PA
  • 87 Killed on American Flight 11/NYC World Trade Center North Tower
  • 60 Killed on United Flight 175/NYC World Trade Center South Tower
  • 59 Killed on American Flight 77/Arlington – The Pentagon
  • 40 Killed United Flight 93/Shanksville, PA
  • 19 Hijackers
  • 246 Passengers Killed on the fourplanes
  • 19 HijackersKilled (on the four planes)
  • 2,996 Killed on Nine-Eleven
  • 411 Emergencyworkers killed at the World Trade Centers
  • 341 FDNYfirefighters killed
  • Paramedicskilled
  • 23 NYPDofficers killed
  • 37 Port Authority Police Departmentofficers killed
  • EMT’skilled
  • 658 Employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. (Investment Bank) killed; most of any employer
  • 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 2010by 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 eighteen 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.

As we place the commemoration of Patriot Day 2019 in the rearview mirror, and eighteen 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: Eighteen Years Later!” I trust you will have 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:

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/09/12/nine-eleven-a-seventeen-year-retrospective/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2017/09/13/sixteen-years-later-reflecting-on-nine-eleven/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2013/09/11/calling-all-patriots-nine-eleven-ten-years-later/

http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com/2011/09/calling-all-patriots-nine-eleven-ten.html

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/11/nine-eleven-eighteen-years-later/

 

 

Labor Day: It’s All About the Workers Redux ’19

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 and today, September 4, 2019)

All things considered, I had to win a spirited debate with myself in order to resist the impulse to make this post about Donald Trump. Between his blowing off his scheduled trip to Poland, ostensibly to keep an eye on the progression of Hurricane Dorian, only to spend his Labor day Weekend golfing (which he found frequent opportunity to lambaste the previous President for…but who’s keeping track), or for “suggesting that Vice President Pence stay at his Doonbeg resort during his official government business trip to Ireland, even though the resort is on the extreme western coast of Ireland, while his business is in Dublin, which is in Eastern Ireland, an hourlong car ride and a 40-minute flight away (a suggestion Pence accepted, of course), or his continued ritualistic song and dance intended to avoid backing any enhancement to existing federal gun laws, despite an unabated spate of mass shootings, along with the usual plethora of untethered to sanity tweets, it’s apparent by now there will be Trump topics for the foreseeable future. I’ll catch him later.

is 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.  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 a number of symbolic associations.  It is considered:

  • The unofficial End of Summer
  • The last 3-Day warm weather weekendfor 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 preceding Saturday)
  • The start of the NFL Season(typically the following Thursday)
  • The conventional kick-off of hard core political campaign season
  • Backto-School shopping

On the formal side, while the Labor Department’s blurb omits any reference to it, Labor Day also validates and recognizes an often controversial mechanism that frequently divides American opinion; labor union.  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 Work Day
  • Worker’s Compensation benefits
  • Female Flight Attendants permitted to marry

These and many other important cherished and effective employee rights are attributable to the efforts of the American Labor Movement.  But, this is not an ode to Labor Unions.  Unions also have downsides.  They 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 one’s self in a grievance)
  • Subject to fines & discipline by the Union
  • Disincentivesto 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 if it is the American Worker the Day was intended to commemorate, Labor Day 2011 was set in an auspicious and trenchant backdrop:

  • The Unemployment Ratein the U. was reported to be 1% in July 2011
  • The economy added only 117,000 jobs in July (154,000 in the private sector, -37,000government jobs lost); better than expected, but still a dismally low number
  • Businesses were stockpiling $2 trillion in cash

Three years hence, the picture, thankfully, was much improved:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported to be 2% in July 2014
  • The economy added 209,000jobs in July 2014
  • August 2014employment data was released the firstFriday in September

In 2011, President Obama, had announced after the Debt Ceiling Deal on August 2nd, that he would present a jobs proposal for Congress to consider, and was set to do so, after Labor Day, (on September 8th).  The proposal included a combination of tax cuts, spending on infrastructure, and measures designed to assist the long-term unemployed, while bolstering certain sectors of the economy.  This potion sounds eerily similar to the ideas Democrats proposed when negotiating the Debt Deal.

Republicans were lined up to oppose the plan, suggesting instead, among other things, a Balanced Budget Amendment; a balm the GOP/Tea Party also suggested during the Debt Deal negotiation.  In short, there was little expectation for significant movement, or the adoption of sweeping legislation to address the lack of jobs in America…and there wasn’t.  What we had instead was, déjà vu…all over, again!  At the time, I was compelled to ask, “Labor Day: Where Is The Celebration?” Fast forward three years, and the truth is the labor dynamics in this country had improved appreciably. However, our country was still beset by challenges.

Each day we were faced with a series of old, and developing challenges abroad. Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Russia, North Korea, China, Somalia, are all global hot spots, just to name a few. Then of course, there was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the burgeoning by ISIS/ISIL, also known as the Islamic State. And oh yeah, we were still winding down in Afghanistan.

Moving forward again, in the August 2016 Jobs Report, issued September 2, 2016, the nation’s Job’s Report continued to improve:

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 4.9%
  • The economy added 151,000 jobs in August 2016
  • Paychecks grew 2.4% compared to the previous year
  • Jobs Growth record extended to 69 consecutive months

The August 2017 Jobs Report, issued September 1, 2017, showed that the economy, for the most part, held steady during the month of August.

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.was reported at 4.4%, up slightly
  • The economy added 156,000 jobs in August 2017
  • Earnings rose 2.5% over the past 12 months; however, the average work week shrank .1 hour to 34.4 hours per week, which means paychecks were a bit smaller
  • The Jobs Growth record has extended to 81 consecutive months (7 months for #45)

Last year, the August 2018 Jobs Report was not released until Friday, September 7th. The July Report showed a dip of one-tenth of a percentage point, down to the second lowest rate for the year, by one-tenth of a point. In July:

  • The Unemployment Ratein the U.S. was reported at 9%
  • The economy added 157,000 jobs
  • Earnings were unchanged from June to July
  • The Jobs Growth record has extended to 93 consecutive months (18 months for #45)

This year, the August 2019 Jobs Report will not be released until Friday, September 6th. The July Report showed the Unemployment Rate remained constant.

  • The Unemployment Rate in the U.S. was reported at 3.7%
  • The economy added 164,000 jobs
  • Hourly earnings rose by 8 cents to $27.98
  • The Job Growth record was extended to 105 weeks

August job growth is historically volatile, and is the slowest month for job growth since the Reports have been published. It’s important to keep an eye out for Friday’s Report, but it’s also of significance to note that despite historic volatility, the trend for this year has been one of consistently low unemployment, remaining comfortably below 5%.

As the sixth bullet from the top advises, the conventional kick-off of the hard-core political campaign season is upon us. There are lots of issues to consider, including, North Korea, Russia, the recent series of mass shootings, the narrowing of the Democratic field of Presidential Candidates, and…yes, Donald Trump, and his connection to any and/or all of the above.

The General Election is just 62 days away. The low unemployment rate is a good news story. However, while there is no Presidential Election this year, we are looking ahead to the local elections across the country. Please understand that elections have consequences! By all means be sure to exercise your franchise; vote! 

Meanwhile, contemplate “Labor Day: It’s All About The Workers Redux ’19,” and while we’ve got plenty of issues to temper our celebration, we should indeed celebrate America’s phenomenal Labor Movement. 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://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2018/09/05/labor-day-its-all-about-the-workers/

https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2019/09/04/labor-day-its-all-about-the-workers-redux-19/