It Was A Lot of Things: A Normal Tourist Visit Was Not One of Them

It’s time to Break It Down!

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives select committee investigating the January 6 attack at the Capitol held its first hearing on Tuesday with harrowing testimony from four officers who shared their stories of being attacked by the rioters. Oh, there will be lots of puffery from the right suggesting that these hearings are just another partisan show. 

Really? Minority Leader McCarthy served the Democrats with a list of demands and pre-conditions for establishing a bi-partisan commission, like the one that investigated the events of 9/11/01. To his surprise, and likely chagrin, Speaker Pelosi accepted them. All of them. Check! Well, akin to MiO, that, “Changes everything.”  To virtually no one’s surprise, McCarthy and his House GOP compatriots came out against the proposal none of the Republicans, save possibly Liz Chaney and Adam Kinzinger, had any interest in holding anyway. 

Earlier, Andrew Clyde, representative for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District characterized what have commonly become known as “the events of January 6th,” this way:

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a ‘normal tourist visit.'”

With that kind of Twilight Zone analysis, spoken out loud, without any significant intra-party pushback, and with at least some concurrence, what other outcome, could we logically expect? Exactly, none.

In yesterday’s hearing, four police officers testified. They told lawmakers they were “beaten, taunted with racial insults, heard threats including “kill him with his own gun” and thought they might die,” during their efforts to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, against a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. Based on Reuters reporting, their testimony included, but was not limited to the following:

“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect the people in this room,” said District of Columbia police officer Michael Fanone, referring to lawmakers. “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” Fanone added, slamming his hand onto the witness table.

“He himself helped create this monstrosity,” Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell said of Trump as he described rioters wielding weapons including police shields, batons, sledgehammers, flag poles, Taser devices, chemical irritants, metal pipes, rocks, broken table legs and metal guard rails.

“There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6, and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that,” Capitol police officer Harry Dunn testified.

Fanone said he was pulled into the crowd, beaten, shocked repeatedly with a Taser, robbed of his badge and knocked unconscious, suffering a heart attack. Fanone said he heard a rioter say, “kill him with his own gun.” “I yelled out that I have kids,” Fanone said, appealing to his assailants’ humanity.

Dunn, who is Black, said rioters repeatedly called him a racial slur. Dunn said he challenged their claims that no one had voted for Biden by telling them that he had done so.

Gonell, an Iraq war veteran and naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Dominican Republic, likened the violence to “a medieval battlefield” and recalled rioters labeling him a traitor who should be executed. Gonell said he thought to himself, “This is how I’m going to die.”

Washington officer Daniel Hodges called the rioters “terrorists,” citing the term’s legal definition. He said they told him: “You will die on your knees!” Hodges said many rioters appeared to be white nationalists. While Black and Hispanic colleagues faced racial slurs, Hodges, who is white, said rioters tried to recruit him, asking, “Are you my brother?”

The rioters sent lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence scrambling for safety. Four people died on Jan. 6: one rioter shot by police and three others who experienced medical emergencies. A policeman who was attacked by rioters died the following day. Two others later committed suicide.

“Some people are trying to deny what happened, to whitewash it, to turn the insurrectionists into martyrs,” Thompson said. “And all of it for a vile, vile lie.”

During the hearing, Democrat Stephanie Murphy asked Hodges what he was fighting for as he confronted the rioters.

“Democracy,” Hodges replied. “It Was A Lot of Things: A Normal Tourist Visit Was Not One of Them!”

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.reuters.com/world/us/police-who-defended-us-capitol-testify-riot-probes-first-hearing-2021-07-27/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/13/politics/andrew-clyde-january-6-riot/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/27/politics/takeaways-january-6-committee/index.html

Context Matters: ‘I Believe In The Science of Vaccination’

It’s time to Break It Down!

The nested quotation above was part of a roughly 37-second Sean Hannity clip in a Fox News segment Monday night. In the clip, he encouraged his viewers to take covid seriously, and consult their physicians about the efficacy of vaccination. He lamented the number of people who’ve died from Covid, and added, we don’t need any more deaths. On its face, it may sound as though Hannity has turned over a new leaf and come to his ever-loving senses. Taken in isolation, it may sound that way. But let’s not rush to judgment. This, after all, is Sean Hannity, speaking to a Fox News audience.

Before reaching any conclusion, unadvisedly, consider the preceding, and subsequent segments. First, the statement followed a segment in which the same Hannity criticized Indiana University for mandating vaccines. The seeming pitch was then followed by an interview of a college student who had lost feeling in her legs due to contracting Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), after taking a different kind of vaccine, and who refuses to get the Covid shot. Not surprisingly, neither Hannity, nor Radiologist Nicole Saphier, a Fox News contributor, made it clear GBS is rare. The CDC says there have been one to two cases per million vaccines administered, most of whom fully recover.  

He also referenced the right to medical privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality. Both issues obliquely point back to the fact that Sean and several other Fox hosts who frequently rail against vaccinations have opted not to divulge to their audiences whether they themselves have gotten vaccinated for Covid. Remember when months after he left office, it was revealed that 45 and his spouse were vaccinated, before he left office? Take it for what it’s worth. Context Matters: ‘I Believe In The Science of Vaccination!’

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.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2021/07/20/sean-hannity-tells-fox-viewers-to-take-covid-19-seriously/?sh=3cda8abd34c4

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/guillain-barre-syndrome.html

There’s A Great Blue-Red Vaccine Divide…No Schitt Sherlock

It’s time to Break It Down!

Consider this week’s post another foray into to the world of re-stating the obvious. Last week, I discussed the fact that during this calendar year, 99.5 of those who’ve died from COVID-19 have been unvaccinated. For those whom that’s insufficient motivation to get the shot, I’m not sure anything would move the needle. With that kind of compelling data trove, the effectiveness of the composite vaccines is undeniable. 

Today’s readily apparent truth is predicated upon the divergent political predilections of those who’ve chosen to get vaccinated versus those who’ve opted out. President Biden set a goal of having 70% of American adults having taken at least one shot by July 4th. We came up short, to the chagrin of vaccine advocates, and to the inexplicable delight of many Republicans and 45 supporters. The final tally by June 30th was approximately 65%. Close, but no cigar. Biden pledged to keep pushing.

As much as Biden promoted the vaccine, 45 and his acolytes protested, pushed back, and derisively skewered those who took the vaccine. In a classic case of mixed messaging, 45 has taken credit for the vaccine rollout, yet he refused to divulge he and his wife were vaccinated. Moreover, he has yet to encourage his millions of disciples to get the vaccine.

Not surprisingly, as a result of their opposing approaches to COVID-19 in general, and to the vaccines in particular, research has shown that 45’s supporters are the least likely to say they have been vaccinated, or that they plan to be. Ironically, 45 was vaccinated before leaving office. A fact that was not reported until months later.

The top 21 states (and the District of Columbia) with the highest vaccination rates, all voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Conversely, 45 won 17 of the 18 states with the lowest adult vaccination rates. Many of those states have high proportions of Whites without a college degree, which may prompt some to recall 45 extolling his love for the poorly educated.

In full disclosure however, politics is not the sole determinant of vaccination proclivity. Black Americans, according to CDC data, make up the lowest racial or ethnic group, in terms of those who’ve gotten at least one shot. Young people, like Black Americans, who lean heavily toward Democrats, have also been less engaged in getting vaccinated. More than 80% of people over 65 have gotten at least one shot, while among those 18-24, only 45% have, and among those aged 25-31, only 51% have gotten at least one shot.

This is where the takeaway from last week’s conversation and today’s post converge. The vaccine is an essential element of life. The COVID-19 case rate, which had been consistently dropping, across the country for months, more than doubled over the past three weeks, rising from 11,300 per day on June 23 to 23,600 per day this pass Monday. This trend, in conjunction with the new Delta variant, has elevated concerns about another spike. Deaths have traditionally lagged cases by a couple of weeks. It is said, knowledge is power. To that end, if you know 95.5 percent of Covid deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated, and 45 supporters, Black Americans, and the young are among the least likely to have been vaccinated so far, if you fall in one of those categories, you ought to want to get the shot. “There’s A Great Blue-Red Vaccine Divide…No Schitt Sherlock!”

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.npr.org/2021/06/09/1004430257/theres-a-stark-red-blue-divide-when-it-comes-to-states-vaccination-rates

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2021-05-12/how-americas-partisan-divide-over-pandemic-responses-played-out-in-the-states

99.5%: Better Than Ivory Snow

According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a White House briefing last Thursday, July1, preliminary data reviewed by the CDC suggests 99.5% of the people who have died from Covid-19 in 2021 were unvaccinated. That stunning statistic is solid gold affirmation of Dr. Walensky’s assertion that every virus-linked death is now preventable.

There is a lot more that could be said about this matter. However, in my humble opinion, nothing more is required. Even GOP West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has seen the light. He admonished fellow West Virginians in a televised coronavirus briefing:

“If you are out there in West Virginia, and you’re not vaccinated today, what’s the downside? If all of us were vaccinated, do you not believe that less people would die? If you’re not vaccinated, you’re part of the problem rather than part of the solution.” What else do you need to know?

I’m inclined…no, make that compelled, to leave it at that. 99.5%: Better Than Ivory Snow (99 and 44/100% Pure)!

I’m done; holla back!

P.S. Suns win Game 1 over Bucks, 118-105

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.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2021/07/01/995-of-people-killed-by-covid-in-last-6-months-were-unvaccinated-data-suggests/?sh=6b183b8493da

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/06/politics/jim-justice-west-virginia-covid-vaccinations/index.html

What Republicans Don’t Want You To Know About The U.S. Economy: It’s Booming

It’s time to Break It Down!

Unemployment: Down

Stock Market: Up

Airline Travel: Surging

Movie Going: Trending up

GOP Economic Pessimism: Massive

The unemployment rate is shrinking. The Stock Market is surging. Air travel is on the come up. Theatergoers are returning to seats. And yet, Republicans are firmly entrenched in classic “The sky is falling” mode. 

This is their collective outlook; despite the fact the economy is on a path to grow at the fastest pace in 70 years. Consumer outlook among self-identified Republicans is worse today than it was at the apex of the pandemic. Statistics generated by the University of Michigan (UM) indicate Republicans are down on the economy, more than at any time since September 2010, when the country was digging out of the Great Recession.

Conversely, the consumer sentiment of those who self-identify as Democrats is higher than at any point during the presidency of 45. It should be noted that unemployment dipped to lower points than it is today. The divergent sentiments reflect a polarization that is not new. However, it seems to have been turbo-charged during the 45 era, and the elevation continues to this day.

Richard Curtin, who leads the UM’s closely watched consumer sentiment surveys noted that the swings were not so significant, prior to 45. Now, the change is great, and inverted. Last October, prior to the election, the consumer sentiment index among Democrats was 72.4, while Republicans logged in at 98. By Inauguration Day, Democratic sentiment had surged to 89.5, while that of Republicans dropped precipitously, to 69.8. That gap has continued to widen. In the grand scheme of things, the overall national consumer confidence level didn’t fundamentally change; Rather, Democrats and Republicans played musical chairs and changed places.

GOP pessimism notwithstanding, there is ample evidence that the economy is flourishing as the pandemic recedes and health restrictions are lessened. Stocks reached a record high yesterday. The housing market is super-heated. Oxford Economics projects a 7.5% growth rate in 2021, the fastest growth rate since 1951.

Americans are traveling again, both on the roads, and in the skies. Airlines reached a pandemic high on Sunday, based on data provided by the Transportation Security Administration. United Airlines announced its largest aircraft purchase ever yesterday, also the largest of any airline in a decade. 

Oh yeah, the 4th of July holiday is coming up this weekend. Nearly 44 million Americans are expected to hit the highways and byways this weekend, based on AAA projections. Demand is so robust that gas stations are experiencing a shortage of tanker truck drivers, which will put a strain on the supply of fuel. The Back-to-Normal index, created by CNN Business and Moody’s Analytics, is now at the highest level of the pandemic. 

None of this is to say there has been a full recovery, or that there are no issues. We’re still down over 7.6 million jobs from February 2020 (pre-pandemic). Many businesses are in a bind to find and hire workers. The pandemic has served to escalate the challenges of economic inequality, hitting low-income families hardest.

Simultaneously, the reopening has contributed to supply chain bottlenecks and shortages, which has brought about inflation not seen in decades. Investors and economists zero in on consumer confidence levels, principally because the economy is driven by consumer spending. This partisan divide can lead to a measure of distrust in public policy solutions, which weighs on the degree to which policy can help the economy. The resulting uncertainty can prove corrosive to the impulses of businesses and consumers. Still, in the here and now, “What Republicans Don’t Want You To Know About The U.S. Economy: It’s Booming!”

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/2021/06/29/economy/consumer-confidence-republican-democrat/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/27/media/f9-box-office-numbers/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/06/economy/imf-us-economy-recovery/index.html

https://data.sca.isr.umich.edu/fetchdoc.php?docid=67702

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/28/investing/recession-recovery-covid-economy/index.html

Filibuster For The Block: GOP Stymies Dems’ Election Bill

It’s time to Break It Down!

As anticipated, the GOP didn’t cast a single vote in favor of the plan viewed as the Democrat’s key legislative initiate during the 117th Congress, the For The People Act. Democratic Senators have argued the bill is necessary to allay the nefarious effects of a spate of bills Republican legislatures across the country are enacting to restrict voting access. Republicans counter the measure is a partisan power grab and a federal overreach into state voting and election systems.

The bills springing up in halls of GOP-controlled state legislatures appear in large measure to be a product of machinations stemming from The Big Lie (TBL); 45’s debunked claim that he won the 2020 Election in a landslide, and a conspiratorial cabal of Democrats, liberals, media, and foreign countries stole it from him. The single most notable outcome of TBL, to date, is the January 6th insurrection. With not nearly enough exceptions, Republicans from the State Senate to the U.S. Senate have been acting in ways that support, defend, or deny TBL. I have no crystal ball, but it sure looks as though Mac & Mac (McConnell & McCarthy), and Company are positioning themselves for a bout of political purloining in ’22 and ’24.

When given a chance to convict 45 after his second impeachment, the U.S. Senate Republicans declined, when given a chance to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th uprising that played out on TV, nationally and internationally, Republicans opted out, and yesterday, when given the opportunity to cross party lines and support voter access and integrity, once again, the inhabitants of the Grand Old Party excused themselves, this time unanimously.

As of last month, state legislators in 48 states had introduced over 380 bills with provisions restricting voting, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. There are more in the queue.

Yesterday, the Senate considered an amended version of legislation that passed the House in March. The Senate had been working since that time to craft legislation that conservative Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin would agree to support. After an array of twists and turns, including Manchin offering his own spin that included:

Declaring Election Day a public holiday

Providing a ban on partisan gerrymandering

Mandating at least 15 consecutive days of early voting

Instituting a voter ID requirement

No dice. In fact, on the same day Manchin offered up his proposal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for all intents and purposes, declared the ideas DOA. He practically assured America on TV, and all those assembled at his news conference that every GOP member in the Senate would oppose such a bill.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate regarding the significance of voting rights. He deemed Tuesday’s vote crucial, saying that it would “protect American voting rights.” He added, voting rights “are under assault from one end of the country to the other.” Then came yesterday; McConnell and the GOP fulfilled his prophesy. “Filibuster For The Block: GOP Stymies Dems’ Election Bill!”

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/2021/06/22/politics/senate-democrats-voting-bill/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/28/politics/voter-suppression-restrictive-voting-bills/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2021/05/politics/filibuster-senate-explained/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/22/politics/senate-democrats-next-steps-georgia/index.html

Juneteenth: Slowly, Surely, Inexorably!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This was not what I was inclined to write about today. My driving impulse was to highlight the 21 House Republicans who voted yesterday, against bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on all members of law enforcement who protected the Capitol and the members of Congress who were there during the January 6th atrocities, aimed at derailing the peaceful transfer of power by preventing the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th President. To be clear, the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of passage of the bill, 406-21. Both Houses previously approved their own resolutions to award the medals. The revised bill will now award three medals – one to the entire U.S. Capitol Police force, one to the Metropolitan Police Department, and one for display in the Smithsonian Institution, accompanied by a plaque that lists all the law enforcement agencies that protected and defended the Capitol, and the members of Congress present, against the day’s assault, which, like it or not, meets the Oxford Dictionary definition of insurrection.

Insurrection:

Noun

A violent uprising against an authority or government.

The punishment?

Whoever incites, sets foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States. (U.S. Code Statute 2383, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115)

Lauren Boebert – CO

John Rose – TN

Andy Harris – MD

Thomas Massie – KY

Bob Good – VA

Louie Gohmert – TX

Barry Moore – AL

Ralph Norman – SC

Matt Rosendale – MN

Marjorie Taylor Greene – GA

Chip Roy – TX

Paul Gosar – AZ

Andy Biggs – AZ

Warren Davidson – OH

Scott Perry – PA

Matt Gaetz – FL

Greg Steube – FL

Andrew Clyde – GA

Jody Hice – GA

Mary Miller – IL

Michael Cloud – TX 

I do not advocate, saying their names, but if you are from one of the 15 states represented by the 18 men and 3 women above, I do suggest you remember them. Oh yeah, and vote accordingly, when the opportunity presents itself. One more thing. Do Blue Lives mater, or not? If so, when? Perhaps not when harmed or killed by right wing domestic terrorists.

Consider the summary on the Congressional Gold Medal a bonus. The double bonus is I promise to be brief in my treatment of today’s subject.

It appears yesterday was actually a fairly busy day for Congress. In recent times, that is, in itself, unusual. In addition to the House completing its work on the Congressional Gold Medal bill, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution yesterday establishing June 19th as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Momentum for this legislation has been increasing since the spate of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, sparked by police killing George Floyd, and Democrats taking over Congress and the White House in the fall. However, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson spiked the bill in 2020, saying it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Johnson relented on his opposition this week, despite lingering concerns. He said:

“Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate. While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss this matter.”

The measure still needs to be approved by the House, and signed by the President, to be signed into law. With the Senate vote confirmed, it is likely the House will follow suit, and President Biden will sign the bill.

Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the end of slavery, in accord with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Initially issued September 22, 1862, the Proclamation went into effect January 1, 1863. Slave owners in Texas had for two and a half years, somehow managed not to pass that information along to their enslaved population. Go figure. 

Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980. Since then, every state but South Dakota has moved to commemorate the day, though only a few states observe it as a paid holiday.

Senators Ed Markey, D-MA, and John Cornyn, R-TX, along with Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX are among the members of Congress who spearheaded the initiative to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday. It’s about time. Juneteenth: 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/2021/06/15/politics/juneteenth-federal-holiday-senate-vote/index.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/21-gop-lawmakers-vote-against-honoring-law-enforcement-for-jan-6-efforts-2021-6

Final Grade: I for Incomplete

It’s time to Break It Down!

There are those among my family and friends who rue each time I write or post about 45. I have a relative who claims to read all my posts, but readily adds the caveat, unless it’s about “him.” I get it; really, I do. But here’s the deal. We view the situation through different lenses. They are, understandably, fatigued by the half decade of constant coverage that he enjoyed, or tolerated, depending upon the media outlet in question. Or they are just not into the whole political sphere. Respect. They have a point, and I appreciate it.

I really do. I merely subscribe to a different view. Let me begin by stipulating that 45 didn’t invent racism. Moreover, he is not singularly responsible for the array of poxes that infect his party. However, a choir boy, he is not. Meanwhile, the GOP has circled the wagons to form what amounts to a virtual order of protection for its Consigliere.

Supporters of 45 stormed the Capitol on January 6th. It is the kind of action that in a bygone era might reasonably have resulted in a vigorous and enthusiastic case of he said, she said. That is, were it not for the undeniable proviso that the crux of the matter unfolded in real time, and unlike Gil Scott-Heron’s “Revolution,” televised. To that end, hundreds of millions of people, in America, and around the world saw it, as it happened. Now, in a world in which facts, and logic ruled, that would have been enough to carry the day. It did not; so much for facts and logic.

Yesterday, The Senate released the most comprehensive bipartisan report on the attack, to date. Just last week, Republicans filibustered the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the matter. Yesterday’s report contained several details that made it evident why a commission was needed, or…if you are 45, or his supporters, why they would want to employ any means necessary to ensure that no such commission be formed.

The 95-page report issued yesterday by a pair of Senate committees included a host of previously unknown details about the siege by 45’s loyalists attempting to subvert democracy. The document cited security failures, pertinent recommendations, logistical breakdowns, and several other lapses. This is where GOP intransigence, in the face of facts, reared its head.

According to Senate staffers speaking with CNN, Republicans required at least two critical concessions for their support for the report, including:

Not delineating what role former President Donald Trump played in the insurrection.

Exclusion of the word “insurrection.”

All of this transpired in an environment in which some members of a party 45 still dominates, continue to claim that the mob that trashed the Capitol, smashed windows and doors, crushed, attacked and injured police officers – including one who died – and called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence, was as friendly as a group of tourists.

Absent the respect for facts and logic, previously referenced, millions of Republicans, at least say, they believe the absurd claim that, if there was a mob, it was comprised of 45’s foes. This, despite the fact the Capitol echoed with chants of “Fight for 45!” as rampaging attackers tried to keep the defeated one in power, and even though 45 praised his violent supporters (“We love you,” he said while the assault was in progress), calling them “very special” people.

The Homeland Security & Rules committees narrowed their focus to “security, planning and response failures” by law enforcement. Staffers noted, each word of the report was crafted to ensure that Republicans would sign on.

Let’s face it, most Republicans are not prepared to liberate themselves from their 45 shackles. An Orwellian imagination would be required to have predicted what the party has become, a gathering of sycophants who deny what they personally endured. “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” he wrote in the dystopian novel “1984.” “It was their final, most essential command.” You can’t find, or even look for evidence…if your instructions demand that you reject it.

That’s why the GOP already blocked the plan for a full-scale 9/11-style commission, and also why I still choose to write about 45. We are at an inflection point on the future of our democracy. Yes, the Senate generated a bipartisan report on the 45 inspired insurrection. However, they refused to say that. Ergo, “Final Grade: I for Incomplete!”

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/2021/06/08/opinions/january-6-riot-report-senate-trump-ghitis/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/13/politics/andrew-clyde-january-6-riot/index.html

President Biden Goes to Tulsa: The Centennial Anniversary of the Historic Greenwood Massacre

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday President Joe Biden visited Oklahoma to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The infamous event occurred on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of White residents, many of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and burned businesses of the Greenwood District of Tulsa. The action is often referred to as the Black Wall Street Massacre, or the Tulsa Race Riot. It marks one of “the single worst incident(s) of racial violence in American history. The incident was executed on the ground, and by private aircraft. The onslaught destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district that was at the time, the wealthiest Black Community in the United States.

While on the ground in Tulsa, President Biden laid out his administration’s ideas about how to address racial inequality in America. He also memorialized the hundreds of Black Americans who were killed by the White mob that set upon their neighborhood, and razed dozens of city blocks. The plans include a range of issues, including small business opportunities, racial discrimination in housing, and voting rights.

In his remarks, Biden noted:

“One hundred years ago, at this hour, on this first day of June smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed in rubble. There was no proper accounting for the dead nor any arrests made. “In less than 24 hours, 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost. Insurance companies — they had insurance, many of them — rejected claims of damage. Ten-thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in interment camps.

“My fellow Americans: this was not a riot. This was a massacre — among the worst in our history, but not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories.”

President Biden called what happened in Tulsa an act of domestic terrorism and added that the resulting effects linger until this day. He referenced the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, specifically, along with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. He referred to White supremacy as “the most lethal threat to the homeland today.”

Biden also referenced the ongoing debate over which historical narratives around race and slavery should be taught in US schools. “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, the everything. That’s what great nations do. There’s greater recognition that for too long we’ve allowed a narrow, cramped view of the promise of this nation to fester — the view that America is a zero-sum game, where there’s only one winner. ‘If you succeed, I fail.’ ‘If you get ahead, I fall behind.’ ‘If you get a job, I lose mine.’ And maybe worst of all: ‘if I hold you down, I lift myself up.’ Instead of: ‘if you do well, we all do well.” Opponents of so-called Critical Race Theory (CRT) offer a consistently disparaging summation of its product. In reality, more often than not, the resulting material is Culturally Relevant Teaching.

In response to national economic concerns, President Biden announced that he will use federal purchasing power to expand federal contracting opportunities with small, disadvantaged businesses — many of them minority owned — from 10% to 15%. According to the White House, this will translate to an additional $100 billion over five years. 

An administration official added that efforts referenced by the President include new specifics on the $10 billion community revitalization fund included in Biden’s infrastructure proposal. The fund will be targeted to economically underserved and underdeveloped communities like Greenwood. The initiative will support adapting vacant buildings and storefronts to provide low-cost space for services and community entrepreneurs, including health centers, arts and cultural spaces, job training programs, business incubators and community marketplaces. It will also support removing toxic waste to create new parks and community gardens. New competitive grants totaling $15 billion will target neighborhoods where people have been cut off from jobs, schools and businesses because of previous transportation investments, officials said. And the American Jobs Plan will also invest $31 billion to support minority-owned small businesses.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge will lead an interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals. Elements incorporated into the initiative will include ensuring enforcement of fair housing laws, regulations, and devising standards and guidance in partnering between industry and state and local governments. HUD will publish a pair of fair housing rules. They will also restore fair housing definitions and certifications, and reinstate the department’s discriminatory effects standard. These changes are intended to establish that the department will “more vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act.”

The administration will lay out specifics for neighborhood tax credits as part of the American Jobs Plan, introduce a grant program to fund jurisdictions that take steps to reduce barriers to affordable housing, as well as expand housing choices to the low and moderate income. However, Derrick Johnson, national President of the NAACP, expressed concern that the President’s proposal did not address the elimination of the student loan debt crisis. He went on to posit that student loan debt suppresses the economic prosperity of Black Americans across the nation. In response, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary noted, The American Families Plan includes an historic $46 billion of investments in HBCU’s, tribal colleges and universities, and minority serving institutions. She added “President Biden is calling for a historic investment in affordability through subsidized tuition and expanding institutional and grants.”

At the end of the day, though, this visit was about Tulsa. Survivors and descendants of the Tulsa Massacre, 100 years later, are still awaiting justice. In May, 107-year-old massacre survivor, Viola Fletcher, testified before Congress and called for justice and for the country to officially acknowledge the massacre. Something it did not do for decades.

President Biden said during his speech, the story of Greenwood isn’t just a story of a loss of life. It’s also a story of a loss of living, wealth, prosperity and possibility. Today, Greenwood is a fraction of the size it was before the massacre. The wealthy neighborhood was never fully rebuilt, and its descendants say the area never fully recovered.

President Biden also used the occasion of his speech on the Tulsa Race Massacre to announce he’s asked Vice President Harris to lead an administration push to protect voting rights. For her part, Vice President Harris said in a statement: “I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide.

The President reaffirmed his commitment to address systemic racism in America, “to advance racial justice through the whole of our government and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts.” He further noted that his administration is addressing longstanding racial inequalities by investing in programs to provide capital to small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, while ensuring that infrastructure projects advance racial equity and environmental justice. “President Biden Goes to Tulsa: The Centennial Anniversary of the Historic Greenwood Massacre!”

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/2021/06/01/politics/biden-tulsa-visit/index.html

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwood_District,_Tulsa

Racism Is Real: Get Beyond Denial

It’s time to Break It Down!

If there is one thing, I’m certain of, it’s that a lot of White people are tired of the nearly inescapable national discourse on racism. I know a number of them don’t believe it exists, and a good many more believe White people are the victims. Not really! At least not in the deeply entrenched systemic way, that needs to be, and has needed to be, addressed for eons.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Derek Chauvin, a local police officer, killed Floyd near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd died as a result of Chauvin applying a knee to his neck for 9 minutes and twenty-nine seconds…until death, did he depart this life. The incident sparked a national and international movement emphasizing social justice, and underscoring in a most persistent way, the ideal that, Black Lives Matter. During a global pandemic, we experienced, yet another long hot summer.

Now there are individuals who posit, the real problem is Black on Black crime. Whenever the conversation about police officers killing “frequently unarmed” Black men arises, many people I know default to the classic whataboutism of Blacks killing other Blacks being ignored, or being OK, or being underreported. Stop it! It’s none of those things. It is regularly reported. I see it on the local and national news on a near nightly basis. They are not the same. Law enforcement officers have the advantage of the power of local, state, or federal government behind them, plus firearms, Tasers, nightsticks, and an array of tools they are authorized to use to neutralize suspects. Oh yeah, purportedly, they are also equipped with advanced training and skill sets, including de-escalating conflict, and subduing uncooperative detainees. Although, admittedly, when it comes to encounters with Black folks, you wouldn’t know it.

Suffice it to say, the space in which we find ourselves is not new. In 1968, LBJ’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders — better known as the Kerner Commission — put out a report that attempted to address systemic racism in the US, including police violence against Black people. That was the year Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed; more than 50 years ago. Perhaps, one of the most notable elements of that study was the willingness of a White guy to cite racism aimed at Black people as quintessentially problematic.

In fact, the report pointed to the scourge of racism as a major cause of economic and social inequality for Black people. It also added that it was moving the country towards two societies: “One Black, one White, separate and unequal.” That, coupled with the brutal police treatment of people of color and poverty, helped spark the race riots of the 1960s.

This was the first time “White racism” was expressly identified in the public policy square as a major cause for inequality in status and living conditions of Black Americans. That was great, as far as it went. Unfortunately, the recommended prescriptions and remedies were not executed.

Former Oklahoma Senator, Fred Harris, the only surviving member of the Kerner Commission, said, change will only come when the people have the will, and the government is truly honest about what must be done politically, socially and economically to address racial inequality. Easier said, than done.

As Jelani Cobb, historian and co-editor of “The Essential Kerner Commission Report,” said, people and institutions already know what the problem is and that the only action that needs to be taken now is actually following the recommendations of the commission, and pay the price that comes with it. 

“The actions are laid out; you really don’t need more recommendations. The fundamental observations (of the commission) have never been acted on.” 

So, what exactly, were those proposed solutions?

The enduring query for the Commission was: What can be done to prevent race riots from happening again and again?

The Commission recommended:

A great, new federal program

Vigorous enforcement of the newly enacted Civil Rights laws

New jobs programs

New housing programs

New Health and education programs

Unfortunately, former Senator Harris noted, the commission coincided with what historians call “a political moment.” President Johnson was facing heat from the left to provide more support for civil rights and systemic racism issues, while the right wanted to roll back that funding, and redirect it to funding for the Vietnam War. In the final analysis, Johnson opted not to seek re-election and the Commission’s recommendations went nowhere.

There have been other commissions. None have stepped up to the challenge. Some of President Biden’s supporters are trying to frame him as a potentially transformative President. We’ll see if he can find the wherewithal to address systemic racism head-on. If his colleagues on The Hill can successfully marshal their forces and navigate to fruition the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, he will have made an auspicious start. “Racism Is Real: Get Beyond Denial!”

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/2021/05/25/us/kerner-commission-report-predicted-racial-divide/index.html