Don’t Be A Putz: Get Your Kid Vaccinated

It’s time to Break It Down!

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Initial symptoms typically include fever, often greater than 40 °C (104.0 °F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Common complications include diarrhea (in 8% of cases), middle ear infection (7%), and pneumonia (6%). Less commonly seizuresblindness, or inflammation of the brain may occur.

Measles is an airborne disease, which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of infected people. It may also spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will be infected. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the start of the rash. Most people do not get the disease more than once.

The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease, and is often delivered in combination with other vaccines. Vaccination resulted in a 75% decrease in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2013, with about 85% of children worldwide being currently vaccinated. Once a person has become infected, no specific treatment is available,

Measles affects about 20 million people per year, primarily in developing areas of Africa and Asia. No other vaccine-preventable disease causes as many deaths. In 1980, 2.6 million people died due to the disease; by 1990, the number was reduced to 545,000. In 2014, global vaccination programs reduced the number of deaths from measles to 73,000. Rates of disease and deaths increased in 2017 due to a decrease in immunization.

The 2019 calculus of what in some cases is an anti-vaccination movement has materialized in the form of a direct uptick of measles cases in the state of Washington. As of yesterday afternoon, there were 36 confirmed cases and another 11 suspected in the state. According to the CDC, Washington (the state) has the sixth-lowest rate of childhood vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella in the country as of 2017.

In his statement declaring the state of emergency last Friday, Governor Jay Inslee said:

“The measles virus is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children, and the existence of 26 confirmed cases [the number at the time the state of emergency was declared] in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.”

Not only is the virus that carries the disease highly contagious, it can be contracted without being in proximity to an infected person, because it lingers in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area. Moreover, it takes days (up to 4) for the familiar and telltale rash to appear. As a result, people may not realize they are infected until after they have visited numerous public places, heightening the prospect that the virus will be spread further to others.

Of the 36 confirmed cases, 35 were in Clark County, and in 31 of those cases, the person infected had not been immunized. In the remaining four Clark County cases, immunization histories have not been verified. Clark County, Washington borders Portland, Oregon. This spikes concern that the spread of the virus may cross state lines.

Most of the people infected are children, who, along with those who are immunocompromised, are most susceptible to the potentially deadly complications of the virus, including pneumonia and encephalitis. Worldwide the disease currently kills 100,000 people per year, according to the Mayo Clinic, mostly children under the age of five.

Measles was declared completely eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, thanks to near-universal vaccinations. But a recent surge in parents choosing not to vaccinate their children because of philosophical objections, or (repeatedly disproven) fears that vaccines cause autism, has caused an increase. Seattle and Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon are among several “hot spots” around the country where there is greater risk of infection with previously eliminated or nearly eliminated diseases due to high rates of parents opting out of vaccinating. Scott Lindquist, MD, Communicable Disease State Epidemiologist for the Washington State Department of Health, pointed out that state-wide in Washington, childhood vaccination rates are mostly high, “it’s just that we have pockets of people with lower rates,” he says.

The so-called “anti-vax movement” is furthered by the sharing of un-founded conspiracy theories and junk science on social media, and despite reports on the role of social media in furthering the dangerous trend, Facebook has so far declined to take action against groups and pages dedicated to misinforming concerned parents about the risks of vaccination.

Anti-vaccination is not a newfound position. Anti-vaccine groups in the 19th Century typically:

Said that vaccines would make you sick

Blamed medical despotism, “a hard, materialistic, infidel thing” for creating the vaccination acts

Warned about poisonous chemicals in vaccines, namely carbolic acid in the smallpox vaccine

Argued that Jenner’s smallpox vaccine didn’t work

Pushed alternative medical practices, including herbalists, homeopaths, and hydropaths, etc.

Used their own literature to scare people away from vaccines

There were even celebrities who joined the anti-vaccine movement, including George Barnard Shaw, who also believed in homeopathy and eugenics.

The anti-vaccine groups in the 21st Century aren’t that much different from their 19th Century counterparts. They still:

Say that vaccines will make you sick

Blame Big Pharma

Warn about poisonous chemicals and toxins in vaccines, although they continue to shift which chemicals they worry about, moving from thimerosal to formaldehyde and aluminum, etc.

Argue that Jenner’s smallpox vaccine didn’t work and neither do any of the other ones

Push alternative medical practices, including herbalists, homeopaths, chiropractic, naturopaths, and other holistic providers

Use their own literature to scare people away from vaccines

There are also contemporary celebrities who back the movement, including:

Jenny McCarthy

Holly Peete

Andrew Wakefield

Barbara Loe Fisher

Robert De Niro

Despite the protests of naysayers, vaccines are one of the most successful programs in modern health care, reducing, and in some cases even eliminating, serious infectious diseases. Public support for the vaccination program remains strong, especially in the United States where vaccination rates are currently at an all-time high of >95 percent (CDC 2004). Yet, despite a long history of safety and effectiveness, vaccines have always had their critics: some parents and a tiny fringe of doctors question whether vaccinating children is worth what they perceive as the risks. In recent years, the anti-vaccination movement, largely based on poor science and fear-mongering, has become more vocal and even hostile (Hughes 2007).

While I do not live near the state of Washington, I have friends who reside there. I hope for their benefit, and the benefit and safety of all who believe in science, that people who have chosen to eschew immunizing their children will redouble their research and come to their senses, or, as the title of this post suggests, Don’t Be A Putz; Get Your Kids Vaccinated!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkshttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comor 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 May Be One of A Kind: However, King-like, He Most Certainly Is Not

 It’s time to Break It Down!

We just put a bow on another holiday weekend. While many may have moved on, once again, I have chosen not to do so. Instead, I am opting to carve out a moment of reflection on a few of the ideals so appropriately notated as millions across the United States, and around the world memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over the course of his birthday/Holiday weekend and beyond. I am also going to juxtapose Mike Pence’s characterization of Donald Trump as acting in the spirit of King, as Trump plows forward with his effort to build a legacy border wall.

In looking back on the many works of Dr. King, I am revisiting a post I wrote and posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, and that I reprised January 18, 2017, and again last year, January 17, 2018, examining the advent of the King Holiday. It’s been 33 years since the initial observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLK DAY), and 36 years since President Reagan signed the MLK, Jr. Holiday bill into law. Contemporary events remind us that now is an apt time to take a look into the rear view mirror of time.

After over three decades of inculcation into the very fabric of our society, it may be largely forgotten that the conceptualization, submission and continual resubmission of the idea, the enactment, and the gradual national observance, was not the product of universal acceptance of a grand and enlightened concept, but rather, was emblematic of the civil rights struggle itself; steeped in controversy, and the eventual victory of a relentless movement to achieve richly deserved, and long overdue social justice.

Several members of Congress, a number of states, and even a President, using a host of creative means, sought to undermine, outmaneuver, sabotage, subvert, and otherwise derail the efforts of the measure’s proponents. Ultimately, the movement was consolidated, snowballed, and would simply not be thwarted.

The effort to create a King Holiday was started by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Michigan, shortly after Dr. King’s death, in the spring of 1968. It was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 1979, but fell votes short of the number needed for passage in the Lower Chamber.

High profile opponents to the measure included Senator Jesse HelmsNCSenator John McCain, AZ, and President Ronald Reagan. Both Senators voted against the bill, and Senator McCain publicly supported Arizona Governor Evan Mecham for his rescission of MLK Day as a State Holiday in Arizona. The campaign however, reached a critical mass in the early 1980’s. Spurred on by Stevie Wonder penning a song in King’s honor called, “Happy Birthday,” a petition drive to support the campaign would attract over 6 million signatures. It has been called the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. History.

Buttressed by what had become a wildly successful public campaign, Congress soon followed suit. The proposal passed in the House by a vote of 338-90, and in the Upper Chamber by a vote of 78-22. Given the dimensions of this overwhelming support, in the form of bicameral veto-proof votes, President Reagan signed the provision November 2, 1983, and it became Federal Law. The first observance under the new law took place January 20, 1986, rather than on January 15thDr. King’s birthday. A compromise in the legislation specified that the observance take place on the Third Monday in January, consistent with prior legislation (Uniform Monday Holiday Act).

Of course, that was not the end of the story. It would actually take more than 30 years after Dr. King’s death before the Holiday was fully adopted and observed in all 50 states. Illinois holds the distinction of being the first State to adopt MLK Day as a State Holiday, having done so in 1973. Twenty years later, in 1993, for the first time, some form of MLK Day was held in each of the 50 States. It was not until 2000 that South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges signed a bill to make MLK Day a paid holiday for State employees; giving the Palmetto State the dubious distinction of being the last of the 50 States to do so. However, Mississippi also sets itself apart by designating the Third Monday in January as a shared Holiday that honors the memory of Robert E. Lee and Dr. King…two fine southern gentlemen.

So with that extensive preamble, let’s move on. As you must surely know, on November 8, 2016, Americans voted, and based on Electoral College results, elected Donald J. Trump President of the United States. Three days shy of the observance of the first anniversary of his historic inauguration, one he claims to be the largest ever witnessed (despite the fact it was not), his unverified claims, outrageous tweets, and dubious comments continue to frame him in stark contrast to his recent predecessors. I will not leave that last comment hanging, without noting that while many Americans believe that is a peculiar, and often unfortunate situation, there is a certain element of our country that believes Mr. Trump is not just a good thing, but exactly what they had hoped for, and precisely what our country needs. Suffice it to say, those are individuals with whom I disagree. Vigorously!

On this past Sunday’s Edition of Face The Nation, Mr. Pence crossed the Rubicon of reason and common sense, asserting that Trump’s obsession with a border wall is somehow representative of the inclusive spirit of Dr. King. The show’s host, Margaret Brennan, asked Pence if Trump’s compromise proposal was a genuine attempt to end the partial government shutdown, considering no Democrats were consulted? Pence’s answer was Twilight Zone-ish…or at least alternative universe-ish (where, presumably, alternative facts reign).  He said:

“Honestly, you know, the hearts and minds of the American people today are thinking a lot about it being the weekend we are remembering the life and the work of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,’” quoting a passage from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Pence continued on to argue that like MLK, Trump has also “inspired us to change.” “You think of how he changed America, he inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union,” he said. “That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do, come to the table in a spirit of good faith.” Left unsaid was…”To build the wall.”

Pence’s remarks came on the eve of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, a week after becoming the longest government shutdown on record, 30 days into the partial government shutdown, and 5 days before 800,000 federal workers will miss their second consecutive payday, if the shutdown isn’t ended. The thing is, arguments that the wall is immoral aside, Trump’s posture, and actions, reflect the polar opposite of those Dr. King articulated when he visited and spoke at the Berlin Wall in 1964. On that occasion, Dr. King said:

“For here on either side of the wall are God’s children and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”

In its purest essence, Pence’s likening Trump to Dr. King is just another fabrication, statement of an untruth, deflection, and flat out lie. Using the occasion of the King Holiday to manipulate Trump’s followers is a dastardly, but not surprising act. This administration has shown time and time again that the race to the bottom…has no terminus. However, that’s pretty low. To add insult to this grievous injury, the day after Pence made the aforementioned comments, a year after Trump did nothing to acknowledge the King Holiday in 2018, and had no public events scheduled to do so in 2019, he accompanied Mr. Trump to the King Memorial to lay a wreath. They spent two minutes there, and Trump never mentioned Dr. King. Pence couldn’t have been more wrong. Two words…epic fail!

Let me be clear. I have never suffered any illusion that Donald Trump is a friend to the cause of equality, diversity, or inclusion. His wall promise, and kowtowing to the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh when he appeared poised to do the right thing, are just more evidence that his aims and methods are in no way reflective of, or in concert with those of Dr. King. Whether you label his words and actions racist (they often are) is inconsequential to me. But if you insist that you are not, but fail to summon the courage and intestinal fortitude to speak out when he spouts off on one of his offensive jags, or veers left, when clearly the moment calls for right, you display cowardice as best, and quite possibly reveal a picture window into your own moral and ethical failings. As for Mr. Trump, “He May Be One of A Kind: However, King-like, He Most Certainly Is Not!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the links or A new post is published each Wednesday. For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:,_Jr.,_Jr._Day


The Law of Unintended Consequences: From Obama to the Precipice of Armageddon

It’s time to Break It Down!

Charles Blow is a noted journalist, commentator, and currently a visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He is one of my favorite writers and speakers on a variety of subjects that include diversity and inclusion, recalcitrant exclusion, and all things Trump related. I readily confess he’s one of only two people whose tweets I follow daily. The other, just for the record is Eugene Scott, Harvard University Kennedy School graduate, a fellow alumnus of the University of North Carolina, and reporter for the Washington Post, covering identity politics. Mr. Scott is also an Alpha, so that makes him golden with me. But I digress.

Last Friday The New York Times published an Opinion written by Mr. Blow, entitled, “The Lowest White Man.” The title is predicated upon the words of our 36th President. Blow noted, “As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Trump’s supporters are saying to us, screaming to us, that although he may be the “lowest white man,” he is still better than Barack Obama, the “best colored man.” I could end this post right there. That’s a drop the mic revelation/conclusion. But I have more ground to cover.

While I have made those same assertions repeatedly, and for quite some time, I derive great satisfaction from the fact one of the more thoughtful and incisive journalists with which I am familiar has solved this downward spiraling vicious cycle of an equation and arrived at the same determination. The terse reality is this is no great secret. I have addressed the elephant in the room before. Yet, too many people with every reason to know better simply refuse…to admit it, to say it, or to concede that they even believe it.

As Blow posits, Trump is the manifestation of white folks inherent right to be wrong…and to still be right. In other words, he is the embodiment of the unassailability of the twin demons, white power and white privilege. To give up on Trump at this stage of the game would be the equivalent of abandoning the implicit deal America has made with white citizens from Jump Street. Our government will assist in underwriting white safety and success, even at the expense of other people in this country, e.g., Native Americans, African Americans, or new immigrants.

Of course, if you’re not a rookie in America, you know this is not a new ballgame. The concept of elevating the lowest white man over those more qualified and/or deserving did not start as a construct in Lyndon Johnson’s mind. Nor will it end with the various expressions of Donald Trump. No, it’s woven into the very fabric of the Stars and Stripes.

When Trump declared that he was on a mission to make America Great Again, the perked-up ears of his would be constituency heard, “make America the once and again proud haven for all white people.” Now just to be clear, this clarion call did and does not resonate with every single person who happens to be white. But for those for whom it does, it was and still is as powerful and irresistible as the Siren Song was to Odysseus.

I have friends who lurk, assiduously searching for each and every clue that the spell will soon be broken, and Trump’s Borg-like following will be as history, a thing of the past. They’ve tried everything, from imagining what the State of the Union would be if President Obama had said or done a fraction of the maddeningly absurd litany of miscreant infractions for which Trump is responsible, to enumerating and regularly updating the list of his atrocious behavior.

When Barack Obama was elected President, a significant number of people permitted themselves to believe his becoming Commander-in-Chief ushered America into a post-racial age. We know clearly by now, such was definitely not the case. In fact, it was just the opposite. Through no fault of his own, Obama instantly became the touchstone, a galvanizing element for a determined and pervasive opposition.

A group of leaders among GOP bosses convened on the evening of Obama’s first day in office. Robert Draper delineated details in his book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.” This was early evidence, but only a tip of the iceberg detail. At least 14 of the era’s most elite level Republicans, including House Members Eric Cantor (VA), Kevin McCarthy (CA), Paul Ryan (WI), Pete Sessions (TX), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Pete Hoekstra (MI), and Dan Lungren (CA), along with Senators Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ), Tom Coburn (OK), John Ensign (NV), and Bob Corker (TN). The non-lawmakers in the room included Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Frank Luntz, a longtime GOP wordsmith. Notable among the absent were Senator Mich McConnell (KY), John Boehner (OH), whom Draper wrote, had acrimonious relationships with Luntz. They met for several hours in the Caucus Room, a high-end D.C. establishment, and plotted ways to not only regain political power, but to block every legislative initiative Obama would eventually propose.

But that’s not all. The Tea Party movement sprung up as a response to Obama and his proposal to provide financial assistance to bankrupt homeowners. One of the major forces behind the initiative was an organization known as Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group funded by David Koch.

And then there were the populists who argue even today that Obama was the primordial cause of all our nation’s ills. They churn out memes attacking, belittling, and demonizing Obama, and naturally, in praise of Trump. It’s what they do.

Perhaps, more than all the other factors, Donald Trump’s fixation on Birtherism sealed his support with a big fat Judas kiss. That solitary act alone catapulted him to the zenith of Republican Primary contestants; a lead he never came close to losing. He survived allegations of sexual harassment, admitting on tape to female genital grabbing, saying on camera a woman was bleeding from her…whatever, proclaiming John McCain was not a war hero, and a host of other faux pas, any one of which would have sank virtually any other candidate’s chances at becoming the nominee of a major political party.

With positions like those above taking root, it’s fairly easy to see how the road for Trump’s rise was paved. However, as Newton’s Third Law attests, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The resulting application of this Newtonian Law was the “Resistance.” Thousands of people gathered in cities across the country and around the world to give voice to protest over Trump’s election. Due to this reaction, those who support Mr. Trump, paradoxically, view Trump as some sort of victim. They fail to see what they self-righteously deem Trump Derangement Syndrome, as an organic response to all the myriad diabolical measures they took against Mr. Obama. They take absolutely no responsibility for their role in the downward spiraling vicious cycle I referenced earlier. Take a look around. There is nowhere to go, but down.

That brings us back to Johnson’s lowest white man aphorism. Or, as I dubbed this post, The Law of Unintended Consequences: From Obama to the Precipice of Armageddon!”

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; 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:

A Congresswoman Used Profanity: Trump Declared She Dishonored Herself, Her Family, and Her Country!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last Thursday, the same day she was sworn in as a member of the 116th Congress’ Freshman Class, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who supports efforts to impeach President Trump, underscored her position right out of the gate. On Day 1 in Congress, January 3, 2019, she called for the impeachment of Trump in an op-ed article she co-authored with John Bonifaz for the Detroit Free Press. In that regard, she instantly distinguished herself from most of the Democrats’ top leaders, who caution that movement on the issue of impeachment, if there is any, should be set aside until after Special Counsel Mueller completes his criminal investigation.

Under normal circumstances, that move, in and of itself, would be a potently newsworthy step. It did, after all, instantly differentiate the newbie from a number of her moderate and centrist Democrat colleagues in general, and from Party leadership in particular. As it turns out, however, the op-ed was just the prologue.

Later that day, Tlaib attended a reception for the MoveOn campaign and spoke on stage. She ended the speech recounting a conversation she had with her son: “Look, mama, you won. Bullies don’t win,” Tlaib said. “And I said, baby, they don’t, because we’re gonna go in there and impeach the motherfucker.”

Social media exploded, the news media was abuzz, and Trump and his base feigned everything from shock to disgust, to flat out apoplexy. In making my personal assessment, I am willing to give social media and the mainstream news outlets a pass. After all, that’s what they do. When a public persona, especially a politician, runs afoul of generally accepted standards of communication in the public square, they pounce. For them, this was no exception.

I am not a proponent of whataboutism. I routinely challenge it whenever conservatives point to what President Obama did or didn’t do, or what Secretary Clinton said or didn’t say. I add the undebatable caveat that neither of them is President, because in almost every case, the matter I am discussing applies to the current President and his behavior, practices, and/or statements.

At this point I submit that conservatives and the media outlets they prefer seldom express similar concerns with the legendary and multitudinous profanities of Donald Trump. As a matter of fact, in the instances I have engaged with conservatives about such matters, and in many other instances which I have simply observed, conservatives spend an inordinate amount of time defending, justifying, reframing, and in a (concocted by me) word, Trumpsplaining his frequent off-color language choices.

As an example, in discourse with a Trump supporter over the weekend, I shared a link in which Donald Trump was captured using the same profanity as the one that instantly elevated Mrs. Tlaib’s media profile. His response? That was a bit old, and was before he was President. He also emphasized the way she spoke to a sitting President. Not one to be easily deterred, I then shared the link to a story about a meeting last Friday with Democratic leaders, in which Trump fired off so many expletives that Trump, the Donald Trump, is reported to have actually apologized to Speaker Pelosi. To that, this Trump supporter responded that he gets the way Trump uses language, and then noted that Trump says he has no time for PC. With that, he reiterated that Tlaib “used it towards a POTUS…not to mention the level of immaturity.”

It’s almost as though he parroted Trump talking points. At that juncture, this was my response:

“The way she used it towards a POTUS.”

“So…when he does it, it’s merely using language and avoiding PC. When his   opponents use it to address him…it’s out of bounds?

I don’t think so. Moreover, the things he said before he was president, especially if he said them while he was running, count, since his supporters voted for him, either because or despite the fact he said them.

He didn’t invent coarse language. But he cannot immerse himself in it, and then have immunity from having it used against him. It’s either acceptable or it’s not.”

Trump, who is known for being Mr. clapback, responded to Congresswoman Tlaib’s comments, which also included the “I” word (impeachment), by saying she had dishonored herself, and also her family. He added, he also thought it was disrespectful to the United States of America. Isn’t it interesting how neither Trump nor his acolytes e-v-e-r think that he has dishonored himself, his family, or our country? FYI, below are the two links I shared with the gentleman.

So where does that leave us? I will not even attempt to speak for anyone other than myself. I have friends who call me Old School, and OG. I crossed a significant chronological milestone 10 days ago. Some would say I’m just old, and I’m OK with that. Leading with that allows me to say I tend to side with the view of the Democratic leadership on the question of pursuing impeachment, possibly for reasons that differ from theirs. In fact, I may actually view the situation more conservatively than some of them. I do not think it’s wise to pursue impeaching Trump now, or at all.

Why, you may ask? Simple. I view it as an arithmetic thing, a practical matter, and a strategic issue.

The House almost certainly has the wherewithal to navigate impeachment proceedings and indict Mr. Trump. Howsumever, the Senate is an altogether different animal, operationally. The decision on a conviction resides in the Senate, and requires a 2/3 (67 votes) majority. This is not 1973. In the hyper-partisan age we find ourselves, there is a virtually nonexistent chance that the current Senate, which has a GOP majority, will evict the current tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Washington, DC). That’s the arithmetic thing.

Doing so without the imprimatur of compelling evidence from the Mueller investigation is a matter of zero probability in my estimation. That’s the practical matter.

Finally, when an overzealous GOP House successfully indicted Bill Clinton on Articles of Impeachment, the fallout was such that Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House at the time, who pressed the Clinton impeachment process, would eventually resign. Top Republicans of that era came to believe that Clinton and his Party recovered primarily because Americans voters viewed the GOP’s aggressive investigations and impeachment effort as misguided and politically motivated. Republicans serving at the time also believed Clinton profited politically from government shutdowns they forced to extract budget concessions from Clinton. Consider the parallels; tread lightly. That’s the strategic issue.

I suspect the Mueller investigation will yield evidence that will undoubtedly tempt some House Democrats to impeach Trump. My Advice is don’t do it! Take a deep breath and investigate, investigate, investigate. Remind every American, over and over, and over again of the litany of reasons Donald Trump and his cast of shady characters does not deserve to have its collective contract for services renewed for a four-year extension.

That’s my rant for today. A Congresswoman Used Profanity: Trump Declared She Dishonored Herself, Her Family, and Her Country!”

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; 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:


Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2019 Edition

Posted on January 2, 2019

It’s time to Break It Down!

During this holiday week, here’s a reprised edition of “Break It Down!”

This Issue has been revised from the Break It Down post I originally conceived, created, and published December 29, 2010, and subsequently re-posted in amended formats December 28, 2011December 31, 2014, December 30, 2015, December 28, 2016, and January 3, 2018. This is my first post of 2019, and the 601st Edition of Break It Down, which debuted August 20, 2007 on the BlogSpot platform. I migrated the principal site to WordPress August 3, 2012, approximately three weeks before the Fifth Anniversary of the blog.  You may find this and most other posts at either site.

With this post I wish you a blessed and bountiful Happy New Year. Now, enjoy today’s blog.

The one-half fortnight between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a unique occurrence in the unfolding of the American version of the Gregorian Calendar.  It is the only instance in which the space of a mere seven days separates two major holidays. Unquestionably, the timing is propitious.  Millions of holiday travelers return home from their Christmascommemoration and revelry, just in time to get a day off to “celebrate” the New Year…and recuperate from the old, most notably their extracurricular activities, including the exploitsof New Year’s Eve.

In last week’s post, I presented a re-formatted airing of my personally crafted Christmas Concert ( from past Noels.  This week, I doubled down and reverted to my trusty time capsule. Once again, this tack permits new readers to catch-up by seeing the piece, it allows long-time readers to reflect upon both the passing year as well as the theme lifted in the post, and finally, it ensures that those busy readers, with no time to invest in checking out a new blog during the holidays, will not have to miss anything. It’s a win, win…win!

With that loosely framed preamble behind us, here’s the déjà vu all over again:

Since we are still in the Sweet Spot of the holidays, I shall practice minimalism. For your purposes, that means the blog should be available, but not intrusive. To that end, I am taking a page from the Christmas e-concert, but going a step further. Instead of a concert, I give you a song…of reflection.

Robert Burns, a Scot, wrote a poem (Auld Lang Syne) in 1788 that has come to symbolize the spirit of mass contemplation that people around the world invoke as the clock strikes midnight, signaling not just the dawn of a new day, but of a new year. Undoubtedly, you have been somewhere, at sometime, when you joined those assembled to sing Auld Lang Syne, which loosely translated means, Times gone by.

Once again, that time is upon us. After thoughtful reflection on my 2017, I have had no choice but to conclude, my travails have been few and small, especially when compared to my blessings, which have been both abundant and vast! All praises to the one true, omnipotentomnipresent, and omniscient God; a mighty fortress is He.

No need to thank me for my inherent thoughtfulness. But, by all means, “Drink a cup of kindness,” or eggnog, or Champagne, or “name your favorite adult beverage,” for me. And, if you are a teetotaler, water will do nicely, thank-you!

As I complete my first post of 2019, and, prayerfully and faithfully reflect upon 2018, I leave with you this familiar Irish Toast:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I invite you to click on the links directly below, which lead to an A cappella and a Jazz interpretation of Auld Lang Syne, arranged and performed by the late Lou Rawls (and listen to the remainder of this week’s edition of Break It Down):

It has been my unique honor and privilege to visit with you briefly for each of the 52 weeks this year. I hope you have derived a fraction of the pleasure reading the blog posts that I have experienced from preparing and providing them to you. May 2019 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires. Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2019 Edition!

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; 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:


Twelve Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2018 Edition

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Revised from Break It Down – 12/24/08, 12/22/10, 12/21/11, 12/26/12, 12/25/13, 12/23/15, 12/21/16, and 12/26/17)

According to tradition, mine if no one else’s, my Christmas post includes a complement of Songs of the Season. Today’s issue will constitute the next edition in that tradition. It’s Tuesday night, or in my personal time dimension, Blog Night. In keeping with what I do, let’s make it so; Wednesday’s coming! And for the record, it’s still Christmas Time in the City. As incorporated in the title above, many purists celebrate Twelve Days of Christmas. This has been documented in song, book form, at least one movie, and in countless tales.

Here, as scheduled, is the blog. I hope you enjoy the blog/e-concert.

Merry Christmas to you! I know some of you are caught up in the whole “We Are The (Secular) World” trip; thus you substitute Holiday for Christmas in seasonal greetings. But that really shouldn’t be a problem since the man we call President has brought Christmas back (wink-wink). But seriously though, in case you don’t know, Christmas never went anywhere.  In fact, a quick check back over the Obama years reveals…Christmas was a staple in his repertoire. (  Of course, those innately curious enough to conduct the requisite etymological research know that the root derivation of holiday is “Holy Day;” but I digress; that is fodder for another day.

By now, many of you have already done whatever you do to observe and/or celebrate Christmas, and returned to the rigors of you daily routine, if not grind. But you know what, herein lies an opportunity to take one more moment, a time out if you will, before returning full tilt to your normal schedule.

As is my custom, I will not use this Christmas Season Post, if you will allow me to call it that, to challenge you to sort through the facts, be they esoteric or mundane. Not the election, or the economy, no wars, and absolutely no (further) references to our big league President, who frequently focuses on tweeting and golfing (despite insisting that if elected, he wouldn’t have time for the links). Perhaps, just his way to Making America Great Again, I suppose. No, this is your time to take a break and leave all that behind. Notice, I did not say forget it, and I certainly would never ask that you pretend it doesn’t exist. Just give yourself a break.

In the true spirit of keeping it simple for both you and me, I am reprising an amalgam of previous posts. In fact, not just any posts…posts from several Christmas’ past, with a notable caveat. In my preceding Christmas Season posts, I have now presented e-Christmas Concerts on eight occasions. Last year I pressed the reset button on the Concert.  Instead of simply providing 12 standards, I upped the ante and provided 24, 12 by female artists, and 12 by male artists. In that last night, when I was working on this post was still Christmas, I’m going to roll those out again.

The English playwright and poet, William Congreve, in the opening line of his 1697 Play entitled The Mourning Bride,” asserted, “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, To soften rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”  I think Congreve was on to something.  If indeed music is capable of enabling us to overcome our basest instincts, and in so doing, ennoble us to pursue our finer impulses, and then indeed, we should take more opportunities to render ourselves captivated by its magical spell. (By the way, it really is breast…not beast; caught you thinking, didn’t I?)

So, I identified and pulled together an assortment of my favorite Christmas Standards by several of my favorite artists. This year’s version includes a variation of the artistic olio I pulled together for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasure a number of years ago. Below, you will find hot links to YouTube video interpretations and two songs for each of the 12 Days of Christmas listed and included in today’s Yuletide e-concert.

Female Artists

  1. Eartha Kitt is known for having had many talents skills, and abilities, among them acting and singing.  Last year I substituted her most popular Christmas song for “Nothing for Christmas.”  After a 1-year hiatus, I’m bringing back Santa Baby.  As I’ve noted before, the song was born in 1953, and as I will this Sunday, it turned 65 this year.  She slays (or if you’re really in the Christmas spirit — sleighs) it.
  2. Dianne Reeves is a Grammy-winning jazz artist who sings in the vein of Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae; a skilled lyricist and scat singer.  She presents “Christmas Time is Here” as if it’s her own.
  3. Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America.  She had a short and tumultuous reign.  But cream rises to the top, and her talent ensured that losing her title was but a mere speed bump in a star-studded road.  Her rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear” provides a glimpse of her musical flexibility and skill.
  4. Lena Horne was a jazz musician whose career spanned over 70 years.  She was also an actress, dancer, and civil rights activist.  She demonstrates her vocal caliber in this version of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  5. Cassandra Wilson was born December 4, 1955.  Her birthdate alone ensured that I included her on this list; ’06!  But that’s not the only reason she made the cut.  Her range includes blues, country, and folk music, as well as jazz.  Moreover, she stuck the proverbial landing in her rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy.”
  6. Toni Braxton is a lot of things: a talented songwriter, singer, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. She is known to be sexy, sultry, and an unpredictable reality show star.  She’s still best known for her music though, and her version of “Santa Please” will do absolutely nothing to change that.
  7. The Emotions are one of those classic Old School Girl Groups born in the 70’s.  Influenced greatly by Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire Fame, they continue to perform today.  One of my favorite tunes by them is their version of “What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?”
  8. Anita Baker released her first solo album in 1983.  In 1986, she released “Rapture” and it was the dawn of her stardom.  She is known for her trademark “husky” voice, and she is at her Christmas best in this version of “The Christmas Song.”
  9. Diana Ross and the Supremes were the “It” Group of Motown when Motown was the “It’ place of Soul Music.  The Supremes are America’s most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Here they are with their 1965 rendition of “Silver Bells.”
  10. Ella Fitzgerald is jazz royalty.  Frequently referred to as the First Lady of Song, the Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella, she was widely acclaimed for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing, and intonation, as well as a horn-like improvisational ability.  Virtually all scat singing is measured against her. Check out her version of “Sleigh Ride.”
  11. Whitney Houston had a voice known worldwide.  Her recordings accounted for nearly 200 million records sold.  Her’s was a clarion voice of our times.  This version of “Joy To The World,” taken from the movie, “The Preacher’s Wife,” is special, as was she.
  12. Ledisi (Anibade Young) is an R&B and jazz recording artist.  Her first name means “to bring forth” or “to come here” in Yoruba.  She was aptly named.  Enjoy her rendering of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

Male Artists

  1. James Brown was renowned for his energetic performances, which earned him another of his many titles, “Hardest working man in show business.” His rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby” is not so uptempo, but still a reminder that he had earned his chops the hard way, and that he was much more than just flash and dash.
  2. Donny Hathaway was a multifaceted soulful crooner and a product of Howard University who excelled in jazz, blues, soul and gospel music; an Alpha Man.  He suffered from depression and died of suicide January 13, 1979 at 33 years old.  He rendered this marvelous recording of “This Christmas.
  3. The O’Jays were formed in 1965, and have been a staple in Soul and R&B music ever since.  They knock it out of the park with this version of “Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas Anymore.”
  4. The Temptations were a significant part of what made Motown, Motown, in the 60’s and 70’s.  Their rendition of Silent Night lives on as a classic among classics as far as Christmas music goes.
  5. Al Green, soul singer, turned minister, soul singer-minister was at his most popular during the 70’s.  He puts his considerable talents to good use in this version of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”
  6. El DeBarge was the central figure in the group known as DeBarge, which reached it’s zenith in the 80’s.  El was one of several members of the group who went on to fashion solo careers.  He nails this version of “Christmas Without You.”
  7. Will Downing has been recording albums since 1988.  Ive seen him in concerts twice, including a couple of weeks ago, and I own most of his recorded music.  He simply does not disappoint.  This recording of The First Noel is no exception.
  8. Joe (Lewis Thomas) released his debut album in 1993.  He has maintained a presence on the music scene ever since. His nuanced presentation of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is just another fine example of his limitless talent.
  9. Jerry Butler, popularly known as the Ice Man, fitting for an Alpha, is a singer, songwriter, and musician (guitar, electric guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums) who was the lead singer for the Impressions before going on to a solo career. He recored this classic version of O Holy Night.
  10. Luther Vandross was a musical icon. Period. End of story.  He is one of my favorite musicians, and his treatment of “My Favorite Things” is certainly among my favorite Christmas songs.
  11. The Whispers hail from LA, and have been around since the 60’s.  They became members of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003…for good reason.  They got it like that.  And they prove it with this version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
  12. Kem (Owens) is an R&B/Soul singer who has made his uniquely fashioned mark on the music scene since 1999.  He enlists Ledisi (Anibade Young), another single named musical star to create a fabulous rendition of “Be Mine For Christmas.”

That’s it, 24 artists and videos and/or songs. Add it all up and you get “Twelve Days Of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2018 Edition!” Enjoy it throughout the Season, and by all means, remember the Reason for the Season!

BonusIt occurred to me that a concert thematically incorporating the Twelve Days of Christmas, without including a version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” is woefully incomplete. To wit, I doubled down by adding a 25thselection, “Twelve Days of Christmas,” two versions, one by Natalie Cole, and an instrumental by Kenny Burrell.

I’m done; holla back!

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

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on“Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

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



So Much Winning: That Was His Promise

It’s time to Break It Down!

“We’re gonna win so much you may even get tired of winning and you’ll say please, please Mr. president, It’s too much winning! We can’t take it anymore!” – Donald J. Trump  May 20, 2016 Albany, NY.

There are an abundance of theories about why Donald Trump won. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to enumerate and or expound upon them. No matter how many hypotheses there are floating around, being analyzed, or enthusiastically debated, about Trump’s victory, there are even more excuses and rationalizations for his idiosyncratic, if not bizarre methods of governing. I’m not going to invest in parsing those either. Instead, I will spend a few minutes framing an element of perspective around Trump’s bodacious and ridiculous claim, compared to where we find ourselves today.

According to CNN Business, few if any Wall-Streeters can recall the last time the Stock Market had a December as tumultuous and downward trending as the one we’re experiencing in 2018. For context, both the Dow and the S&P 500 are currently on track for the biggest December loss since the Great Depression.

As of Monday, both the Dow and the S&P 500 were down around 7.8%. That’s the deepest dive for each of the key Market barometers since 1931, based on data from LPL Research. Of course, the Depression-era losses were even larger: the Depression S&P 500 dropped 14.5%, while the Dow plunged 17%.

Nonetheless, the current swoon is making investors nervous. There is a growing feeling that earnings growth may have peaked this year. Analysts are concerned that the economy could stall in 2019 because of continued trade tensions with China, and rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The Dow and S&P 500 are in the red for the year, putting stocks on a course that would lead to their worst annual loss since the 2008 Great Recession (Bush numbers) – and the first annual loss since 2008.

There is still reason for some hope that markets will turn around in the final days of the month…and year. December is typically a strong month for the market. Professional money managers tend to buy top-performing stocks to make their portfolios look good – a phenomenon known as window dressing.

There is also a somewhat more mysterious factor, known as the Santa Claus rally effect. As a rule, the market usually does well in the last week of the year, which some observers consider a function of light trading volume, with so many people off for the Christmas Holiday.

Volatility is still a key disruptor. Stocks started strong yesterday, but the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all turned lower in late afternoon trading. They staged a brief rally near the end of the day to close flat to modestly higher.

All that brings us to what, for the sake of this post, I’ll call Trumponomics, or Trump metrics. Donald Trump has, in addition to launching his “Winning” manifesto, spelled out in the opening paragraph, frequently used the stock market as his personal poll. You may have noticed, as the market has undertaken a declining trajectory, he has not only avoided that practice, he has also cast blame on the federal reserve for the economy’s difficulties. It is worth noting, the Dow is 1,000 point lower than when Trump signed his tax reform bill into law a year ago.

That is a result many investors find shocking. Over several decades, they have become accustomed to winning. The S&P 500 has boasted double-digit returns in 7 of the last 9 years. Last year the return was 22%. Investors expected more of the same this year, especially after Trump and his fellow GOP supporters promised the new tax law would, in effect, let the good times roll.

In general, the economy has been strong. Unemployment is at the lowest level in a generation. What then, is the problem?

There is an overarching view that 2018 was a year yielding peak earnings that simply cannot last. The boost from corporate tax cuts will fade. The trade war with China is raising the cost of doing business. Moreover, interest rates are beginning to rise. It is likely the Fed will hike interest rates a fourth time this year to keep the strong economy from overheating.

After the recession, interest rates hikes were minimized to resuscitate the economy. Now that the economy is healed, the Fed is raising rates back to a more neutral place on the policy spectrum. The increases have been nominal so far, because raising them too quickly could stall economic expansion.

It’s worth noting, signs of slower growth are emerging in faraway places from China to Germany. In fact, according to Greg Valliere, political economist at Horizon Investments:

“There’s a fear of weaker economic growth virtually everywhere, as the world emerges from quantitative easing and confronts tighter monetary policy. That, in a nutshell, is the greatest concern.”

I suppose, despite all of the preceding reasons we might instinctively proceed with caution, we can all relax, because, after all, Mr. Trump, advised us he hires only the best people, he is a stable genius, and in his own words, So Much Winning:” That Was His Promise!

I’m done; holla back!

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

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”

Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box. Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post: