High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?

It’s time to Break It Down!

Let me begin at the end. My assessment is, this isn’t over yet!

So Mr. Trump asserted yesterday that the GOP will be “forced” to find a new state to host their convention as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stands by his demand that party leaders provide him with plans for a scaled down event amid coronavirus concerns. Bravo. Trump’s tough guy antics are cheered by many in his Party, and are absolutely drawing rave reviews from his hard-core supporters. Some of his most avid allies claim Trump enjoys the enthusiastic support of 97% of Republicans, a number, which they say, is a record.

I am hearing that Republicans believe Governor Cooper is a (politically) dead man walking. They contend the Governor is at best misplaying a bad hand, and at worse, outright overplaying it. They are thoroughly confident that Trump will not only be easily re-elected, but that the pending red wave will lead to reclaiming all the seats the GOP lost in the midterm elections, and, of course, that Governor Cooper is toast.

This is an interesting kerfuffle, to say the least. Not that long ago, Mr. Trump blithely deferred to Governors when it was time to make a decision on whether to develop and execute shutdown measures to blunt the spread of the coronavirus. He spoke, almost demurely, of federalism, and the role and responsibility of the Governors to figure it out for themselves. Some skeptics and cynics might conclude he was reticent to make the call, because like Pontius Pilate, he didn’t want his fingerprints to be associated with those actions. Because, of course, any downturn that might result from shuttering businesses, would have the effect of putting a damper on his self-proclaimed greatest economy ever…and subsequently complicate his bid for re-election.

Sure enough, while the virus had yet to peak in a number of states, he suddenly dispensed with the virtue of federalism, which he contended prevented him from invoking shutdowns, and proclaimed that it was time to open up, and that he personally would override any Governor who didn’t allow churches to re-open. Well, the move appeared to help him feel that he had reignited his mojo.

On Monday, the erstwhile, in control of everything, self-proclaimed law and order president made his way across Pennsylvania Ave. for a photo-op at historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been subjected to fire damage the previous evening, during protests of the death of George Floyd. Ahead of him, law enforcement officials used smoke canisters and rubber bullets to disperse, what according to most news outlets on the scene, were peaceful protesters. It was initially reported that tear gas was employed. That was lated denied.

Tuesday, the events were reimagined, and the new narrative was that Attorney General Barr had ordered the show of force. For a guy who claims the ultimate authority, declares himself in control of everything, and who bragged about dominating, and emphasized the need to dominate ”unlawful” protesters, dominating lawful protesters, and hiding behind his AG in the wake of broad-based public pushback, is not a good look. In fact, to use Trumpian vernacular, it was weak.

But that brings us to yesterday, and his threat, or was it a bluff, to snatch the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Charlotte, and North Carolina. A number of Republicans on the ground, in and around Charlotte, claim Governor Cooper is playing politics. All I know is, when it was time to make the call on Stay-at-home orders, Mr. Trump was (again) happy to use someone else, Governors in that case, as human shields. Now, he sees an opportunity to put pressure on a Governor in a purple/swing state to submit to his “dominating” pressure. He see’s himself, as holding all the cards.

If the Governor folds, and accedes to Trump’s bluster, he has bent to the will of the omnipotent POTUS. If he resists, and adheres to actions he believes are in the best interest of the citizens of his state, and, I might add, anyone from out of state, who might be attending the Convention, he will be characterized as depriving the city and state of jobs, and the branding spotlight of hosting the convention. This latter posture will undoubtedly energize his base.

But let’s be clear. Trump is all about the glitz and glamor of the show. Between now and August, and between August and November, he’ll create dozens of political donnybrooks, and complain of countless sleights to manipulate Team Trump. And they will dutifully respond.

I have no idea what Governor Cooper will do. I have the sense he is relying upon North Carolina’s official healthcare professionals and experts to provide guidance about what to require of the RNC, in the way of an acceptable plan. I hope he will weigh all the pertinent factors and apply his best judgment.

It’s worth noting there are a lot of people in the Charlotte community who think the City should never have bid on the RNC, and who certainly believe local elected officials should not have consummated the deal. In the fog of the current nationwide unrest, stemming from Mr… Floyd’s death, amnesia abounds. It seems there is a collective forgetfulness, as a number of cities claim to be lining up to embrace the RNC, should Trump and company actually move it, that when this deal was made, Charlotte was essentially the only bidder. That was in no small part, due to the toxicity of the Party Leader, and the GOP Brand. A Leader and Brand, I might add, that have not in any discernible way, been enhanced since that time, to anyone but Trump loyalists. Perhaps, that’s all it will take for them to succeed.

I’ve been surprised before, and I could be surprised again. But, as I said at the outset, my assessment is, this isn’t over yet. High Stakes Poker: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?”

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.

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

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Please enjoy a reprised edition of “Break It Down!” This post was originally published May 30, 2012 at: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com, reposted May 27, 2015 at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com as Memorial Day: What Your Teacher Never Told You!, again on May 31, 2017, and last on May 29, 2019.

This year, courtesy of COVID 19, we were presented with, what for most of us was a unique Memorial Day experience. It’s been more than a century since the United states has been caught up in a worldwide pandemic, the likes of the novel coronavirus. As such, the vast majority of Americans have never experienced anything quite like what we’ve been dealing with the past couple of months. But this is not a post about the so-called, “invisible enemy.” While there are those who insist the pandemic is over, the death toll continues to tell a different story. While the rate is slowing in many states, the nation’s total count is still on pace to eclipse 100,00 this week. More about all that in another post.

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

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

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

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

The weekend typically includes a cornucopia of sports.  For example this week included the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600the NBA PlayoffsCollege Men’s Baseball playoffs, and College Women’s Softball competition, among others. I mentioned COVID-19 earlier, right? Scratch the sporting events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkshttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.com or /http://thesphinxofcharlotte.blogspot.com.

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















He Started From The Bottom: Now He’s Here!

It’s time to Break It Down!

For the previous 5 Sunday evenings, I carved out a two-hour window to watch the 10-part Last Dance documentary, detailing, in general, Michael Jordan’s career as a member of the Chicago Bulls, and more specifically, the 97-98 Title run; the last in the second 3-peat. Hoops fan that I am, I decided before the series started, that I’d render an ode to it, afterward.

You don’t have to believe Mike is the GOAT, you don’t have to want to be like Mike, you don’t even have to like the guy…he’ll be fine. But if you appreciate hoops, especially the NBA variety, he set the bar very high, and the Last Dance documentary more than adequately filled in for the MIA League action. It played over the course of 5 weeks (every Sunday night), 10 hours (distilled from more than 500 hours of footage) of filling in the details about events you knew how would end. It’s hard to imagine it could still be gripping decades later…but it was.

Below is a summation, admittedly gleaned from a Tar Heel lens, that is one of the best things I’ve seen so far, in capturing the flavor of the series.

By Thad Williamson (Inside Carolina):

“The Last Dance: Owning the moment

Millions of Americans tuned in Saturday night to watch LeBron James host an inspiring TV special honoring the high school graduates of the Class of 2020. Many of those same millions no doubt tuned in to watch Episodes 9 and 10 of “The Last Dance,” completing the chronicle of the final running of the dynastic Chicago Bulls in 1998.

Earlier in these rapid reactions to this documentary, I said I was not a big fan of “greatest of all time” debates, and here’s why: true greatness comes in many forms and many shades, and greatness recognizes greatness. LeBron James wouldn’t be who he is as a basketball player without the impact and example of Michael Jordan, and he has used the template of cultural and commercial impact that Jordan largely created.

If in some respects, including his outspokenness on issues (which the elder Jordan has supported), James has taken that template a bit further, good: one would hope there is progress and growth from generation to generation. It’s possible to appreciate and be a fan of both men, both for what they have in common and who they are as individuals.

But leaving the “GOAT” debate aside, here are two claims I feel pretty safe in making:

First, Michael Jordan is the most influential player in the history of pro basketball. This is not just about his obvious impact on James, Kobe Bryant, and countless others. There’s no other pro basketball player that could be judged by serious people to be not only a definitive emblem of American culture but as a symbol of global capitalism (see historian Walter LaFeber’s 1999 title “Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism.”)

Second, Jordan is unsurpassed in modern pro basketball history in helping his team get it done in championship-level competition, every time. I’m not prepared to say “greatest” even in this category because no one can ignore Bill Russell and his 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons, including the last two as player-coach (averaging over 45 minutes a game in the playoffs!)

But the expanded, modern NBA is a different league than that of the 1960s, and here’s the baseline fact: Jordan’s record in the NBA Finals is 6-0. Every time his team got close, they got it done, by hook or crook.

Episodes 9 and 10 don’t really introduce any new themes or revelations, but do present a lot of details reminding viewers just how hard both the 1997 and 1998 championships were, and the full range of circumstances those teams had to overcome. Here are some standout points:

The “flu game” in 1997 vs. Utah was actually food poisoning. Jordan’s performance in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals while physically ill can only be characterized as super-human. Episode 9 lays out the full story that the real issue was a bad pizza that caused Jordan food poisoning. Jordan shouldn’t have played in the game, but did anyway. Overcoming a slow start, Jordan score 38 points on 13-27 shooting, including the go-ahead 3 point shot with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls a 3-2 lead.

Reggie Miller is right: In 1998, the Indiana Pacers were loaded, and perhaps had the best team. But Reggie Miller is also right that in the end, when it actually mattered, on the court on game 7 of the epic series between the Pacers and Bulls, the championship DNA of the Bulls rose to the occasion. Or as a friend of mine used to put it, the Pacers got “out-Michaeled.” (Also of note: that push-off by Miller on Jordan in Game 4 before his game-winner was ridiculous!)

The Bulls were definitely better team than the Jazz in 1998, period. Here’s evidence for that point: Chicago 96, Utah 54. The Jazz could legitimately have been expelled from the Finals for their Game 3 performance in Chicago. But they still had a chance in the series because Chicago was just about out of gas.

Rodman being Rodman. I’ll be honest, I completely forgot about the mini-drama about Rodman skipping practice during the Finals prior to Game 4, to go hang out with Hulk Hogan. Rodman then came off the bench to grab 14 rebounds and hit six critical free throws in a close Bulls win.

Scottie Pippen’s bad back in game 6. Just as the Bulls had to struggle to overcome Pippen’s absence at the start of the 1997-98 season, in game 6 Pippen’s ailing back seriously limited his movements. He soldiered anyway, acting as a decoy and even sinking some big baskets, but his pain meant even more of the load fell on Jordan in that decisive game. Jordan scored 45 points, taking 35 of the team’s 67 shots from the field. Dennis Rodman stepped up too (just like earlier in the year), draining an unlikely 20 foot jumper in the fourth quarter, but the end was all Jordan: two baskets against Bryon Russell in the last 41 seconds, and a critical weakside strip of Karl Malone to set up the winning basket. Jordan sunk the dagger jumper against the Jazz, and the Bulls won again to complete the repeat threepeat. That kind of record in the Finals isn’t luck, nor was it a case of the Bulls being vastly better than their opponents all those years.

The edge was Jordan, specifically, as these episodes emphasize, his superior ability to be fully focused in the moment and to play without fear or thought of failure. That mental edge, plus the skills and physical gifts, is what allowed him to “out-Jordan” the competition: every single time.

Other highlights from Episodes 9 and 10:

  • A moving segment focuses on Jordan’s relationship with long-time security man Gus Lett. Lett became a father figure to Jordan after James Jordan’s death, and is shown making a triumphant return from cancer treatment to the United Center for Game 7 against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls win, and Jordan makes sure Lett gets the game ball.
  • Scottie Pippen revealing his thoughts as Jordan brought the ball upcourt after stealing the ball from Malone to give the Bulls the chance to take the lead in game 6 of the Final: “Get the hell out of the way.”
  • The footage convinced me that I have for over 20 years mistakenly believed Jordan got away with a push-off on Russell on that final shot in Game Six. As Jordan and Bob Costas both observe, Russell was already faked out beyond repair by the time Jordan’s left hand made contact with him, and Jordan did not cause Russell to lose balance. Contact yes, but an actual foul? Not then, not now.
  • I loved the footage of Jordan in the hotel room in Utah after winning the sixth title, banging on a piano and displaying sheer joy in the moment. Someone asks him about going for a seventh title and Jordan declines to answer saying he wants to be fully present right there, right then. Channeling Phil Jackson, Jordan says “It’s the moment, man it’s the moment. That Zen Buddhist sh*t — y’all get in the moment and stay here! Just stay in the moment!” A fitting final thought from an athlete who did just that better than anyone else, time and again, from 1982 to 1998.”

For several years now, there has been an ongoing debate about basketball, and the individual most worthy of the title, Greatest Of All Times (GOAT). We live in a world in which the culture is often dominated by youth. To wit, the names I hear most frequently mentioned are, Kobe (may he RIP), LeBron and MJ. The second wave usually consists of Kareem, Magic, Tim Duncan, and Bill Russell. The Top 10 is rounded out by, Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, and Wilt Chamberlain. Folks who know me best, particularly my sports/hoops proclivities, know three things:

  1. I’m a Tar Heel partisan through and through
  2. I’m am/was a Jordan fan, except when he played the Hornets (I’m a homer), and that one time they played the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals (I’m a Laker-lifer)
  3. By my reckoning, Wilt (100 points in an NBA game/Are you kidding me) is the greatest (Convince me I’m wrong)

Having stipulated the three points above, I hope you enjoyed today’s post, especially Mr. Williamson’s excellent commentary. For those who believe LeBron has eclipsed Kobe, and many do not, I believe he’s in hot pursuit of Michael. I expect him to surpass a number of Mike’s records before he retires. Perhaps, I’ll reassess at that time. For now, my vote goes to Jordan. No, I’m not going to turn to stats. Moreover, since it’s my blog, I don’t have to explain myself. And today, on this question, I will not. But if you want to take it up with me later, you know how to find me.

For now, as Thad said of Jordan, he owned the moment. And to paraphrase Michael in the link below, and Drake’s “Started From The Bottom, He Started From The Bottom: Now He’s Here!”

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.

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Trump’s Voting Paradigm: Vote For Me, Or Don’t Vote

It’s time to Break It Down!

Mr. Trump is on record opposing mail-in voting. He calls it rift with fraud, and he insists that it puts Republicans at a disadvantage. He tweeted last month:

“Mail in ballots substantially increases the risk of crime and VOTER FRAUD!”

And here I was, totally unaware that the GOP was burdened with some kind of postal phobia. Here’s to new information. As I recently inquired of a GOP acquaintance, does this pox apply to service men and women, stationed abroad, who’ve been routinely voting by mail, for decades, when stationed overseas?

Apparently, Trump also has reservations about in-person voting, if it’s made available in areas where some residents may not vote for him, and or, for his candidate of choice. Over the weekend, Trump labeled efforts to make voting easier in a Special Election in California’s 25th congressional district, a “SCAM!”, demanding that “These votes must not count.”

A fair question, it would seem, is, does Mr. Trump support voting, of any kind? After all, he has previously railed against voting by mail. Now, he’s arguing against in-person voting. What is his deal?

As is so often the case with Trump, and by necessity, for his supporters, he has glammed onto positions that are polar opposites. As first glance, you may think, well, those two things are not exactly opposites. That, however, is because, there is a third tier to this story; voting by mail. An aspect that, oddly enough, despite Trump’s previous loud (and inaccurate) pronouncements, he finds voting by mail, in the 25th district, completely acceptable. So much so, that he, for all practical purposes, went out of his way to endorse it.

How so? In this case, Trump isn’t taking issue with the fact people in California’s 25th district — located in North LA and eastern Ventura County — can vote by mail if they so choose. After all, he even tweeted that this election was “supposed to be mail in ballots only” — perhaps because of reports that more GOP voters have mailed in their ballots to date than Democratic voters.

The reality is, experts say that mail-in voting doesn’t actually advantage one party relative to the other. However, as we’ve learned, over time, it’s not Trump’s thing to listen to experts — especially since he claims to know more than anyone us else about a long list of topics from “technology” to Democrats to terrorism.

This stable genius based brilliance, I suppose, explains Mr. Trump’s continuing to spew baseless claims (also known as “lies” when uttered by other people) that mail-in ballots are “corrupt” and “they’re forgeries in many cases.” As real experts have repeatedly made clear, voter fraud with mail in ballots is “relatively rare” and Factcheck.org has dubbed Trump’s claims as “misinformation.” Take that for what it’s worth. I understand, Trump supporters prefer the musings and tweets of the self-proclaimed stable genius rather than the meticulously researched data collected by social scientists, trained in the field.

Fast forward to Trump’s claim that adding a new voting location in Lancaster, California is somehow about trying to “rig” the hotly contested election to fill a Congressional seat left open by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Katie Hill.

What apparently triggered Trump’s claim that Democrats “are trying to steal another election” was that Los Angeles County election officials recently added a new in-person voting location in the city of Lancaster — described by Trump as “the most Democrat area in the State.”

Ergo, why Trump has demanded these ballots cast by real, registered, eligible to vote Americans, “must not count.” #MAGA?

How Trumpian! That a President would call for votes not to count because they are cast in a polling location that he believes favors the opposition party, is, well, downright anti-American. It should not be overlooked that giving voice to what would be a transparent act of voter suppression, if carried out, would also make it more difficult for those in one of the most diverse cities in the district — Lancaster’s population is nearly 22% African American – to cast their ballot.

The clearest of ironies in this case is that, with the nearest in-person voting center nine miles away, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris joined Democrats in pushing for this voting precinct to be opened up to in-person voting. Parris, a Republican who supports GOP candidate Mike Garcia over Democrat Christy Smith, last week called for the county’s election officials to “immediately” open a polling location in the city, noting that, ”There should not even be the appearance of affecting the outcome by limiting the ability to vote. I don’t want to ‘jimmy’ the election.” Oh yeah, I guess you caught that part about the mayor being Republican. That stubbornly inconvenient fact directly undermines Trump’s tweeted claim that Lancaster is the most Democratic area in the state. What’s new?

Just based upon the previous points, this whole matter screams, “Trump doth protest too much, methinks.” But there’s more. It’s quite interesting that Trump’s outrage about Lancaster’s voting location does not extend to the two voting locations set up in Ventura County, which backed the losing GOP congressional candidate in the 2018 election. In fact, one of the Ventura County in-person voting locations for yesterday’s election is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Imagine Trump’s reaction if it had been scheduled to place at a venue bearing the name, the Barack Obama Presidential Library!

Trump is gonna be Trump. His supporters are insistent that he do so; they love it. If you don’t, it’s up to you to respond in-kind by supporting candidates whom you believe represent you, your values, and your interests. Not those of this current regime, which it is increasingly clear, are”Trump’s Voting Paradigm: Vote For Me, Or Don’t Vote!”

P.S. At midnight Eastern Daylight Time, as expected, Garcia led Smith by a considerable margin. With 76% of precincts reporting, hr led 78,701 to 62,054, a 16,647 vote margin. It’s safe to say that amounts to an insurmountable lead.

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Don’t Be Afraid: Pssst, Don’t Be Stupid Either!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is a short post. I often write that at the beginning of the blog. Then I write more than I intended to say. As a result, I have to go back and remove that statement. That won’t be the case today.

I have on a number of occasions to discussed COVID-19 with people of varying ideological persuasions. At the end of the day, it seems, the chasm that separates opinions on politics and political ideology is alive and well in the coronavirus debate. If that’s really true, as I submit,  in all likelihood, even in this brief post, you’ll either really like it, or you’ll find it, and me, totally devoid of reason. And that’s OK.

I saw an individual write yesterday, as best as I could discern, in response to a comment I wrote, something to the effect of,” If you’re scared stay the hell home but don’t expect my life to be run by YOUR fear.” (sic)

That sentiment was expressed in response to something I wrote on the FB page of someone who fully embraces such notions, as do many. Believe it or not, I respect anyone’s right to feel that way. Period, The End…of my response.

Initially, the first death attributed to coronavirus in the U.S, was thought to have occurred February 26, near Seattle. It was recently determined by an autopsy, that a February 6 death in Santa Clara County, California was related. Even with that earlier timeline, it means that more than 71,000 people have died from the virus in just three months. That’s roughly 10,000 more than died due to this year’s 6-month Flu Season…for those who deign to compare COVID-19 to the flu. The pertinent detail about the distinction is, flu season ended a month ago; coronavirus deaths are still mounting, and current estimates, conservatively, are expected to more than double that number.

Even Mr. Trump, on Sunday, sharply revised upward his projected number of U.S. coronavirus deaths, saying that fatalities could reach 100,000. At the same time, he defied warnings from leading public health officials, renewing calls to expedite reopening of businesses across the country.

Also, on Sunday, in an interview with Fox News, Dr. Deborah Birx said the administration continues to operate on the assumption that the more likely scenario called for as many as nearly a quarter-million deaths – even with shutdown measures taken to date. She explicitly stated the following:

“Our projections have always been between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives lost. And that’s with full mitigation, and us learning from each other how to social distance.”

If you happen to be a person of color, in general, or African American, in particular, the odds are greater that you will contract the virus, and also disproportionately higher that, if you have it,  you will die from it. There are numerous reasons for this dynamic, including, a higher likelihood of being a frontline/essential worker, and as a result, being unable to shelter -in-place, or practice social distancing, living in crowded housing conditions, inconsistent access to healthcare, chronic health conditions, stress, income inequality, discrimination, violence, and institutional racism.

In Chicago, where African Americans comprise 33% of the population, they account for half those tested positive for coronavirus, and nearly three-quarters of the deaths.

Similarly, in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, African Americans make up 26% of the population, but 70% of deaths due to coronavirus. These examples are the norm, not the exception. Moreover, the trend is not limited to African Americans. Latinix/Hispanic, and Native American communities are also adversely impacted.

Today’s blog has but one point, and one point, only. That is to illuminate the relevant facts surrounding COVID-19, in order to enable you to make informed decisions that directly affect your well-being, and quite possibly save your life. All manner of misinformation, and frankly, misanthropic advice, is being floated about in our respective orbits.  It’s worth noting, early indications are, just because businesses have been permitted to re-open, doesn’t mean all business owners think circumstances are exigent for a safe return of their customers, of their employees, or for that matter, of themselves. As consumers, you are responsible for making that determination for yourself. Remember, in effect, you are the President and CEO of, You, Inc. I close, as I began. By saying, “Don’t Be Afraid: Pssst, Don’t Be Stupid Either!”

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.

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Did He Not Say It; Or Was He Being Sarcastic? Pick A Side!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Over the past few days, TrumpWorld has been uncharacteristically divided. After his controversial statements during last Thursday’s coronavirus briefing, at which time, he suggested the possibility of injecting disinfectant into the body, both the medical community and a number of companies that manufacture disinfectants promptly issued warnings not to ingest or otherwise put the chemicals into the body.

This past weekend, numerous news outlets reported the number of instances of individuals ingesting the products spiked. When questioned by the media, about his comments Friday, Mr. Trump declared he was being sarcastic. In actuality, Mr. Trump was not speaking to the media, but rather following up a presentation by Bill Bryan of Homeland Security, and speaking to Mr. Bryan and Dr. Deborah Birx, who were seated stage right from him.

Mr. Trump’s deviation from the facts is pretty much legendarily, standard operating procedure. The WaPo database showed that as of April 3, Trump’s 1,170th day in office, he has made 18,000 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of more than 15 claims a day. Since the Post’s previous update, 75 days earlier, he’s been averaging just over 23 claims a day. That’s slightly higher than the 22 claims a day he recorded in 2019. Gotta give it to him; he knows his way around false and misleading claims.

So, out there in the Trump orbit, I’ve seen two divergent themes emerge about Mr. Trump’s comments on the subject. One is that he never suggested what many of us watched and heard him say. The other is that he was, as he claimed a day later, speaking sarcastically. After a little more than three years, and more than 18K false and misleading statements, if we’ve learned anything about exposing this guy’s untruthful nature, especially to his fawning flock, it is, you’d better bring the receipts. To wit, check out this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA_39Yqb0QA. He said these three things:

  1. Hit the body with ultraviolet or very powerful light
  2. Bring the light inside the body, either through the skin, or in some other way
  3. Disinfectant knocks it out in a minute. Is there a way we can do something like that? By injection, inside, almost a cleaning. You see, it gets on the lungs, and it does a tremendous number. It’d be interesting to check that. You’re gonna have to use medical doctors. Sounds interesting to me. But the whole concept of the light, the way it goes in one minute; that’s pretty powerful.

The fallout having been as resounding and as immediate as it was, undoubtedly shook Trump, and on some level, his legion of followers. In Friday’s follow-up briefing, Trump and his team briefed reporters, and after completing his remarks with, “Thank you very much,” Trump uncharacteristically fled the scene…I mean, left the briefing without taking questions. Most Americans, certainly anyone who follows things pollical in America, knows that Trump and TV cameras are all but symbiotic. Leaving the room without lingering to take questions, and perhaps more importantly, make sure every member of his team answered questions in a manner he liked and approved, is, well, downright unimaginable. At least not without some off the chart motivation. Think, gaggle of reporters, queued up to set upon Mr. Trump with a relentless barrage of questions about ingesting disinfectants as a means to destroy coronavirus. Motivation? Check!

If you watched the linked video and listened to Mr. Trump’s comments, you are aptly positioned and qualified to answer the question posed in the title. Just don’t be like Trump’s people. It’s either one, or the other. Not both. Did He Not Say It; Or, Was He Being Sarcastic? Pick A Side!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Earth Day Is 50: We Are Here!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Today is Earth Day. On this, the 50th Anniversary Observance of the occasion, I opted to take a break from politics, coronavirus, and sports, even The Last Dance, the epic ESPN documentary miniseries focusing on Michael Jordan’s last season with the Bulls (1997-98). I can’t promise that I won’t eventually write about the series. But not today.

Earth Day is an annual reminder of our integral connection to nature, plants, the land, the sea, ecology, and our overarching environment. As humans we have an immutable interdependence with the earth, but also a legacy of responsibility to treat it with care and respect, as the condition in which we bequeath it to our descendants is among the greatest of gifts we will leave behind.

If there is one message that defines the essence of Earth Day, it’s we have but one planet; take care of it. There are a number of ways people tend to express their commitment to our collective home on Earth Day, including:

  • Picking up litter
  • Planting trees
  • Recycling
  • Repurposing
  • Taking a walk or jog in a park or along a greenway
  • Buying an electric vehicle
  • Building to green standards

The trend is to identify a specific theme for elevating, each year, on Earth Day. The theme or area of focus for 2020 is Climate Action. The norm has been to execute projects related to the theme, such as, river cleanups, or carrying out adopt-a-highway projects. This year, due to COVID-19, we are presented with an array of special challenges in commemorating Earth Day. Because practicing social distancing is currently in vogue, and many of us are under stay-at-home orders, Earth Day 2020 is primarily a digital enterprise. There will be numerous virtual events today, like environmental lectures. To find a catalogue of local events, visit earthday.org.

To be clear, social distancing does not mean you’re prohibited from going outside and enjoying nature. Just do so, responsibly. Nature has not been canceled.

In the beginning. The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, with the goal of raising awareness about mankind’s role in protecting our natural world. On this date, 20 million Americans ventured outside and protested in favor of a more eco-conscious society.

While it may be difficult for some people to fathom, at that time many of us were unaware of some serious environmental issues—from air pollution, to toxic waste dumps, to pesticides, to degradation and loss of wilderness lands. Many more people are aware today, but there are also a sizable number of people who deny the significance of human activities in producing negative consequences. That last sentiment deserves a post of its own. Perhaps, another time.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, (D-WI), and activist John McConnell, separately asked Americans to join in the grassroots demonstration. McConnell originally chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22, which ended up becoming the official celebration date. Given that the date of the spring equinox changes over time, it could have made things more complicated to go with that date.

Without question, Earth Day started as a political movement. While it is almost certainly part of a partisan tableau, today, it has gained popularity in many communities as a force to rally folks to gather and clean up litter, plant trees, or to simply reflect on the beauty of nature. As the great poet/balladeer, Marvin Gaye put it…https://youtu.be/uxMRgponxD0

Earth Day is always celebrated on April 22nd. Earth Day Is 50: We Are Here!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Donald Asked, Where’s Obama: President Obama Responded

It’s time to Break It Down!

For months now, when he has not been otherwise occupied by the morass of impeachment, staggering, stressful, and often controversy-laden episodes of his own making, or the perils of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Trump has been posing inquiries regarding the whereabouts of the 44th President, one Barack Obama. In his own uniquely devilish and condescending way, everything about Trump’s repeated attempts to bait an off the cuff, or elseways unscheduled reaction, or response from #44 was the very antithesis of the reserved nature of both the Obama Doctrine, and the man himself.

President Obama had stated, long before there was a campaign to determine the Democratic nominee for Election 2020, that he would not publicly weigh in until the intraparty battle was resolved. No one knew this better than Donald Trump. But, as we know, needling his perceived adversaries is as much a part of the Trump persona as his penchant for hyperbole, “truthful,” or otherwise. His spinmeisters would probably say it’s a strategy. The truth, more likely is, he can’t help himself. It’s a behavioral pattern rooted in the fabric of his DNA. In either case, it had zero chance of altering the course of how…and when the former President would initiate his engagement in campaign activities.

Actually, check that. To be fair, the how was, undoubtedly, quite a bit different than initially envisioned. Absent the coronavirus pandemic, the rollout, most certainly, would have entailed a huge rally, probably with a number of the former Democratic candidates, including Senator Sanders, and of course, Obama and Biden. But that particular dynamic was changed not due to Trump’s berating, chiding, or impudence, but because the new now, as opposed to new normal, dictated by social distancing practices and stay-at-home orders, required it.

On Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign activities, and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. Pursuant to that action, In an altogether anticipated move, President Obama followed-up yesterday with his Biden endorsement. Mr. Obama spoke warmly of his former VP, and friend, cast him as someone who gets things done, and who helped manage H1N1, and prevent the Ebola epidemic from becoming the kind of pandemic we are seeing now with COVID-19. He did this without mentioning Trump by name, of course. Nevertheless, in view of Trump’s constant badgering and goading, it’s fair to say, we’ve reached the point when the appropriate phraseology is “Game-on!”

Having vanquished Secretary Clinton four years ago, there is probably nothing in the political realm that would energize Mr. Trump more than the chance to take down Biden, armed, as Mrs. Clinton was, with Barack Obama’s imprimatur. A win in November, though not a one-on-one with Obama, would surely suffice, by Trump’s accounting, as having attained the full set. What could be more satisfying?

As Trump hastens to put the pandemic behind him and restart the economy, he longs to regain what he had imagined would be the equivalent of Thor’s Hammer, to bludgeon his way to victory. If there is one thing, he is well aware of, it’s that a hot economy is the elixir that smooths the way for incumbents to secure re-election. He had bragged more about his having rebuilt the economy than almost anything, except, perhaps his robust ratings, Super Bowl-like, he has recently called them.

That’s enough for now. I expect between now and November, there will be plenty of opportunities to reflect on the 2020 race. This post was meant to establish that we now have identified the principals. All of Trump and the GOP/conservatives’ speculating about Bernie, Bloomberg, Cuomo, et.al., can be put to rest now. Trump’s dream match-up appears to have materialized.

Democrats still have to figure out how to solve the challenge of coalescing. Republicans are already solidly lined up to back their heroic (to hear them tell it) champion. The key question at the moment is when and if the campaign will take on a sense of normalcy, complete with rallies, debates, arenas filled with conventioneers, and the other trappings of a Presidential Election Year.

All that remains to be sorted out. What we know is, “Donald Asked, Where’s Obama: President Obama Responded!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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From Outhouse To Penthouse: ‘Hoos Win – Reprised

It’s time to Break It Down!

Who knows? It’s a couple of days after the previously scheduled Final Four, which was slated for The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta a couple of nights ago. My wife and I had planned to be there. It may not have lived up to the hype. It could have paled in comparison to last year’s event. But, had it been nearly as exciting and even half as entertaining as last year’s quartet of teams and trio of games, I would almost surely have written about it for today’s post. But, since COVID-19 intervened, and the entire NCAA Tourney was canceled four weeks ago, alas, that option is not available.

So, as the title above confirmed, I am re-posting my recollections and impressions from last year’s festivities. One final coda to acknowledge my affinity for hoops, and to denote how much I missed the staging of the Final Four, and determining the Last Team Standing.

Who Knew? The 2019 rendering of “One Shining Moment,” honoring the Wahoos of UVA will stand another year. One final word to underscore just how unusual the situation is this year. The NCAA began crowning Men’s Division I Tournament Champions in Evanston, IL, in 1939. Since that time, venues across the Continental U.S. from Los Angeles to  New York, to Seattle to Charlotte, and numerous points in between have hosted the Tourney. One thing had remained clockwork consistent. Until this year, never-ever had there been a cancellation. Well, now we can scratch that off the “It Never-Happened” List! For the record, next year’s finale is scheduled for Indianapolis. Enjoy the reprised post.

OK, it’s Wednesday, April 10th and the CIAA, ACC, and NCAA Basketball Tournaments are history. But before I turn the page, I’ve got a few final observations to make about the NCAA Final Four.

First, to the University of Virginia Cavaliers, their students, alumni and fans, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Kyle Guy, and Coach Tony Bennett, congratulations on winning the 2019 NCAA College Basketball Division-I Championship! All praise coming your way, for this signal achievement is richly deserved. Moreover, your 85-77 victory in the Title Game stands as an Instant Classic.

From the agony of being the first #1 Seed to be ousted by the University of Maryland Baltimore County (affectionately known as UMBC), a lowly #16 Seed last year, Virginia completed the ultimate NCAA college hoops comeback by being the last team standing, triumphantly so, when the confetti settled and the speakers in the makeshift US Bank (Stadium) Arena blared the 2019 edition of “One Shining Moment.”

A year ago at about this time, I decided since I’d never attended a Men’s Final Four, I would enter the ticket lottery and roll the dice. When I received confirmation last June that I’d scored two tickets, my wife and I were set. The only question remaining was whether my beloved Tar Heels would be accompanying us.

Alas, despite the regular season hype, and the early Tournament anticipation of an ACC/Tobacco Road cataclysmic Battle of the Titans between Duke, and North Carolina, the Heels made it only as far as the Sweet 16, where their hopes and dreams were dashed on a Friday Night in Kansas City by a sizzling hot Auburn squad that dismantled and dismissed them handily in what would become their own run to the Final Four.

As it turned out, erstwhile devastating Duke would have its own issues. First, they escaped a last second tip in attempt as Krzyzewski protégé Johnny Dawkins’ University of Central Florida fought valiantly, but lost by a point, as the Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16. Then, in an ACC family affair, Duke faced Virginia Tech for the third time, after having split during the regular season. Duke won the rubber match, and advanced, but only after VA Tech missed its own tip in at the buzzer for a chance to send the game into overtime. However, as we know, a win, is a win, is a win.

After having demonstrated Houdini-like resilience in two successive games, I made myself comfortable with the notion that Zion and Company were fated, and poised to claim the Title. However, the Spartans of Michigan State University had other ideas, and ultimately, would have their say in the matter. In their third nail-biter in a row, College Basketball’s 2018-19 version of The Greatest Show on Earth faltered, as MSU prevailed, winning by a single point in their Elite 8 contest. So much for a Duke-Carolina Title tilt!

Moving ahead, this year’s setting for the Final Four was US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The successful quartet included Auburn University (Charles Barkley), Michigan State University (Magic Johnson), Texas Tech University (Patrick Mahomes), and the University of Virginia (Ralph Sampson). Yeah, I know Mahomes is a football player, but here is where I confess I don’t know any prominent Texas Tech alums who made their mark in the NBA. Besides, those four guys were actually at the Final Four.

Speaking of the NBA, while in the Twin Cities, we also took in two Timberwolves games at the Target Center. Saw them play the Miami Heat (Dwayne Wade’s last Minneapolis appearance as an NBA player) Friday night, and the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday afternoon. The T-wolves bested the Heat, but fell to the Thunder. In total, we saw 5 games ( 3 college and 2 NBA) in 4 days. We did all this, and still managed to escape Minneapolis-St. Paul ahead of a projected snow storm that could deliver up to 12-inches of frozen precipitation to the area.

Back at US Bank, two of the four teams, Auburn and Texas Tech, had never advanced to a Final Four. A third, Virginia, had never made it to the Title Game. Of the four, only the Spartans of Michigan State had previously appeared in and/or won a Title Game. The Spartans claimed the Trophy in 1979, in the famous Magic-Bird match-up, and again in 2000, with a squad lead by Mateen Cleaves.

The first semi-final game featured SEC Champion Auburn’s fast-pasted offensive juggernaut facing off against ACC Regular Season Champion Virginia, buoyed by its stalwart #1 ranked defense and a much improved, but often underrated offense. The game was a back and forth contest with a high drama ending. With Auburn leading 62-60, an Auburn player fouled Kyle Guy with 0.6 seconds remaining. Complicating matters for the Tigers, the shot, even though he missed it, was a three-point attempt.

Undoubtedly, by now, you know what happened next. Despite Bruce Pearl calling a timeout after Guy’s first two free throws, hoping to ice the shooter, Guy swished the third attempt, just as he did the first two shots. For all practical purposes, game over. In fact, the game, 0.6 seconds remaining, notwithstanding, was over. Final score, Virginia 63, Auburn 62.

In a 20/20 hindsight world, Samir Doughty would have assumed a stout hands in the air defensive stance, and made Guy hit or miss a tough shot and trust his teammates to corral the rebound. If he made the shot, congratulate him on hitting an acrobatic game winner. If he missed, celebrate Auburn’s win with his sure to have been exultant teammates. But college basketball isn’t played in hindsight. And in real time, Kyle Guy may have lost the battle (missed the shot), but he won the war (and the game), nailing a trifecta of foul shots to transform a two point Wahoo deficit into a one point lead with less than a second remaining, and Auburn needing to traverse the 93 feet length of the court and score in 0.6 seconds or less. Uh, game over.

In Saturday night’s second semi-final contest, Texas Tech, with its #3 ranked defense squared off against perennial Big 10 Power, Michigan State. It was another game in which the momentum and the lead swung back and forth. With less than 3 minutes remaining and Texas Tech clinging to a 52-51 lead, the young men from Lubbock dug in and leveraged the phase of the game that had kept them relevant all year. Defense!

They held the Spartans scoreless for the remainder of the game, while they went on to add 9 points to their own total. With that 61-51 victory, they launched themselves into Monday night’s Title Game. The combatants were set, Virginia, from the ACC, and Texas Tech, from the Big 12; marking both teams’ first Title Game appearance.

Monday night’s matchup between Texas Tech and Virginia pitted two of the top three defensive teams in the country against one another. Virginia allowed opponents only 55.5 points per game. Texas Tech was not far behind, allowing only 58.8 points per game. Only the Wolverines of the University of Michigan separated the two, barely edging the Red Raiders, allowing opponents 58.3 points per contest.

Here in Minneapolis there was an ever so slight Texas Tech vibe. Largely, I think, it was a root for the underdog kind of thing. Although, as we were taking the Blue Line Train back to our hotel after the Title Game, I did hear one local say he had pulled for Texas Tech “because of the stigma associated with Charlottesville.” The reference, of course, was to the Unite The Right Rally, which featured neo-Nazi and alt-right protests, and which resulted in counter protests on August 11th and 12th, 2017. There were any number of infamously memorable events that weekend in Charlottesville, including white men in Khakis and sports shirts chanting Jews will not replace us, two law enforcement officers killed in a helicopter crash, and the President of the United States asserting, “There are very fine people on both sides.” Even with all that, perhaps the incident that gained the most notoriety was James Alex Fields, Jr. running into a crowd of counter protesters with his car, killing activist Heather Heyer on August 12th.

Of course, I’m not a yahoo fan, but I don’t hold the events of that weekend against UVA students and/or student athletes. That’s a narrative with a host of sources, but the UVA Family is not one of them…in my humble opinion. But I digress.

Back to the Title Game, my own assessment is that while they were both stellar defending teams, Virginia probably had just a little too much offense. As it turned out, for 40 minutes, it was a draw, as the two teams played to a 68-68 tie, and overtime. For those who were rooting for Texas Tech, if you quickly revisit the world of 20/20 hindsight, two plays should standout. The first, with halftime nearing, and the score tied 29-all, Virginia with the ball, Ty Jerome found himself all alone at the 3-point line. Predictably, soon afterward, the ball joined him. In the blink of an eye, shot taken, shot made, halftime, UVA up three. Remember that sequence!

With Texas Tech leading 68-65, with 14 seconds left, the ball found De’Andre Hunter alone in the corner. Déjà vu all over again! With no closeout in sight, Hunter squared up and casually sank a 3, tying the game, and ultimately leading to OT. In hindsight, in both instances, the defense should have forced a contested two, rather than giving up an open 3. In any event, after having witnessed, and survived the halftime dagger, both Texas Tech’s coaches and their players should have insisted on creating a different response (and hopefully a vastly distinct and discernibly dissimilar outcome) at the end of the game. But…that’s the difference between hindsight and real time. After trailing briefly, Virginia took command during the overtime period, and went on to win with minimal stress, and little apparent resistance in the extra period.

As is often the case, some folks will second-guess the officiating. I’ve been known to look askance at a call or two here and there, myself. Others will suggest the Wahoos were simply lucky. Carolina fans, think Dean Smith’s Heels in 1982 when Georgetown’s Fred Brown mistakenly threw the ball to James Worthy instead of a fellow Hoya, and again in 1993 when Michigan’s Chris Webber called a timeout when he and his Wolverine cohorts did not have any. People who default to those “what ifs” fail to take into account a couple of key considerations. In both cases, Carolina was ahead at the moment of the ill-timed miscues. Therefore, both teams would have had to design and execute a play (remember UM had no timeouts), take…and make…a shot, score, and prevent Carolina from doing the same thing. No sure thing in either case.

By the way, next year’s Final Four is in the ATL. I’m just saying. But again, I digress. This is about Virginia…and Texas Tech.

At the end of the day, it is my opinion that the team that was the best team in the country all year long won the tournament. Duke did beat them twice, of course, but as I mentioned earlier, Duke had its own issues. The Cavs were stout on both sides of the ball, refused to fold under pressure, survived, advanced, and withstood whatever their opponents threw at them. They executed a perfect fairytale ending, including making clutch free throws, three on one possession to seal Saturday night’s game, and 14 in a row down the stretch Monday night in the second half and overtime to secure the Title. They also played enough defense to weather the storm both nights. “From Outhouse To Penthouse: ‘Hoos Win – Reprised!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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He’s Lying To You, And You Know It: You May Not care, But You Know!

It’s time to Break It Down!

For several years now, I’ve known, and repeatedly said, we’ve reached a point in this country wherein the chasm separating the left and the right is deep…and wide. It’s been a long time since we were this divided. So long ago, the terms left, and right were not even in vogue as the language that defined our political and ideological differences. It’s been at least half a century since the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and even longer since the Jim Crow era was pervasive, and even longer than that since lynching was the order of the day.

Despite the contentiousness that is subject to jump off at the mere mention of things political in gatherings of mixed ideological leanings, I still delve into those conversations. Undoubtedly, far more frequently than many deem prudent, or rational. There are a number of reasons I could proffer, but the one salient notation I’ll mention is my perplexity arising from what strikes me as the irreconcilable disconnects between what conservatives say and do now, versus what so many of them maintained, right up to the day Trump was elected.

Actually, that single point warrants a dissertation of its own, but that is not the point I am choosing to elucidate today. No, today’s post, the subject of which is prominently etched at the top of the page, is all about the distinction between Donald Trump’s claims and his actions, vis-à-vis COVID-19. My thesis is a segment of the public has been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amuck, and flat out deceived. Others…don’t care, actually feel they benefit from the discordant direction Trump foments, and a few , flatly revel in it. I fully intend to prove, at least the former, by using a simple tool; Mr. Trump’s own words.

Rising to the top of the political heap in the U.S. brings with it a lot of perks. POTUS is considered by some to be the most powerful position in the world. Technically, that’s probably not true, but the person in that position is by most accounts, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. In all likelihood, the most powerful person in the world, is some dictator, or autocrat, who singularly controls all or most of a country’s levers of power. But that too, if there is a debate, is an argument for another day. The flip side of all those perks, is being POTUS brings with it an unrelenting spotlight, and good, bad, or indifferent, the capturing for the record of one’s every word, certainly every word on the public record, and as many have learned, quite a few words that were not necessarily intended for public consumption.

Mr. Trump has long been a media maven. For this discussion, I will refer only to his on the record, in front of the media (a far as we can tell, on of his favorite positions), comments.

Earlier this week, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump about some of his previous comments playing down the coronavirus.

In his best Trumpian response, Mr. Trump replied:

“If you look at those individual statements, they’re all true. Stay calm, it will go away. You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory.”

Chris Cillizza, a CNN Analyst leans into The New York Times’ amazing timeline of Trump’s statements on coronavirus as the framework for comparing and contrasting Trump’s remarks from the beginning of the outbreak until now, which Trump maintains, haven’t changed.

* In late January, Trump, in an interview with CNBC, said this: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” The US did not, in fact, have it totally under control. As of Tuesday morning, there were almost 161,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 3,000 deaths.

* In early February, Trump told Sean Hannity this: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.” He had not, in fact, “shut it down.” Again, almost 161,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 3,000 deaths.

* In late February, Trump said this of the number of coronavirus cases in the US: “We’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” That was, and is, not true. One week ago, the US had 52,000 confirmed cases. This morning we had almost 161,000.

* In mid-March, Trump said this: “This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something we have tremendous control of.” We did not have “tremendous control” of the virus. See above.

Now there are of course, many more examples. I won’t insult your intelligence by presuming you fail to get the point. I’m certain you do. To coin a phrase, it trumps ridiculous for Mr. Trump to claim with a straight face that every “individual statement” he made about COVID-19 was (or is) true. One would hope, I know I certainly do, that Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters alike (even though that chasm, as aforementioned, is deep and wide) would find themselves unable to draw that conclusion, based upon the evidence. It is simply, logically impossible.

Now was there a method to his madness? Almost certainly!

In January, in February, and even early in March, he was downplaying the virus because:

  • He wanted it not to be that bad
  • He didn’t want people to freak out, because the economy, on which his campaign is based, would tank


As Trumps said to Acosta:

“The statements I made are I want to keep the country calm; I don’t want panic in the country. I could cause panic much better than even you. I could do much — I would make you look like a minor league player.”

The thing is though, Trump’s attempts to undersell the virus to the public had real-world consequences — including a very slow start to testing for the virus in this country and our current shortages on masks and ventilators. (Doubt it? Read this Times piece: “The Lost Month: How a Failure Test Blinded the U.S. to COVID-19.”)

Now, Trump is being Trump, doing now what he always does about everything: Attempting to rewrite history so that it looks like he was always the smartest guy in the room, the one person who saw this all coming from a mile away.

Evidence? Check out his March 17th about-face:

“I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

The temptation is to call that what it is, straight up hot bovine excrement. For the purposes of this post, I’ll instead resort to factchecker’s prose. “That statement is, of course, demonstrably untrue.”

Naturally, we all know, Donald Trump doesn’t care. Habit and history have established that if he simply repeats the story, he wants to be true, plenty of people will follow his lead.

He will blame Democrats, or he’ll blame the media, or he’ll blame both…for twisting his words or making thing up. Remember that he is the guy who said this out loud: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Yesterday, Mitch McConnell alleged impeachment diverted Trump’s attention from coronavirus. While I don’t doubt he spent a considerable amount of time and energy ensuring that none of his associates and subordinates testified against him, I do question whether he spent any more time doing that than he did holding rallies and playing golf:

Rally Dates:

January 9th

January 14th

January 28th

January 30th

February 10th

February 19th

February 20th

February 21st

February 28th


Golfing Dates:

January 18th

January 19th

February 1st

February 15th

March 7th

March 8th

For the record, impeachment by the way, ended February 5th.

But if the truth still matters, know this. The truth is that Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat coronavirus posed to the country, providing Americans with false hope when they needed candor and transparency most of all.

At the end of the day, He’s Lying to You, And You Know It: You May Not Care, But You Know!”

I’m done, holla back!

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