Hurricane Harvey: Unprecedented and Fortuitously Timely

It’s time to Break It Down!

Hurricane Harvey has ravaged southeastern Texas since last weekend. Its devastating consequences brought record-level wind, rain, and flooding to the Houston area. The storm eventually reached Category 4 status by the time it reached landfall last Friday. Houston is the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States, with a 2016 census-estimated population of 2.3 million people. It is located in the fifth most populous MSA in the country. By early Tuesday evening, rainfall, which had topped 50 inches, ceased and the sun shone through for the first time in several days.

That was the good news. The bad news was, despite opening two dams to release the rapidly building water flow; area flooding had caused thousands to evacuate, and had contributed to at least nine deaths. As if that were not enough, after moving off the coast, the storm re-energized over the water, and is expected to approach land in the Houston area again, but also northeast toward the Beaumont area, as well as into Louisiana, and possibly the Memphis area of Tennessee.

While much of the rain moves toward other states, Houston is still at risk of flood waters. The Brazos River has risen 40 feet since Saturday, and is expected to rise another 5 feet before cresting. It’s apt to note Harvey is no longer a Hurricane, but even as a Tropical Storm, it continues to leave its mark.

Harvey is a tropical cyclone that is the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year period with no hurricanes of Category 3 intensity or higher making landfall. Harvey is the first hurricane to hit Texas since Ike in 2008, and the strongest to make landfall in the state since Carla in 1961. It’s also the strongest in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Rita in 2005, and the strongest to make landfall in the Gulf area since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Harvey joined Matthew (2016) as one of only two U.S. hurricanes to cause an extreme wind warning to be issued, indicating “tornado-like winds” within the storm, including isolated tornadoes. Harvey is also the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the contiguous United States, dropping a total of more than 50 inches of rain, surpassing the record set by Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978.

There are numerous plots and subplots stemming from Hurricane Harvey. Most are well chronicled during the evening news, in newspapers and magazines, and on cable news outlets 24/7, or thereabouts. The storm has uprooted thousands of people, and undoubtedly discomforted millions. The property damage estimates are already into the $billions. Every iota of coverage generated by the storm has been warranted.

Still, during the virtual avalanche of attention the storm had garnered, a few key items have largely receded into the background. Just for the record, here are ten issues worth simultaneously tracking, while you monitor Harvey:

  1. Various Trump-Russia investigations (Don’t be fooled; there are 5)
  2. North Korea’s continued missile testing and accompanying threats
  3. Donald Trump, Jr. and his scheduled testimony on his Russian meeting
  4. Paul Manafort
  5. Subpoenas for Paul Manafort’s attorney and his current spokesman
  6. Jared Kushner
  7. Trump business sought to build a Trump Tower in Moscow
  8. Transgender Troop Ban
  9. GOP push to limit Mueller’s investigation to 6 months
  10. Trump’s Charlottesville response

Unquestionably, Donald Trump and his supporters, surrogates, and spinners would like very much for you to forget about the items above. Don’t do it. I’m not suggesting you or anyone should downplay the devastation in Houston. In fact, I extend prayers and best wishes for all the residents of the state of Texas who were personally affected by, or who have family and or friends who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Having said that, I also believe it is worth noting in a more detailed way, the investigations referenced in item #1 above. Below are the 5 investigations, and their areas of emphasis:

Senate Intelligence:

  • Russia’s interference in the election
  • Collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia

Senate Judiciary:

  • The circumstances that led to national security adviser Michael Flynn’s dismissal
  • Leaks to the media

House Intelligence:

  • Russia’s interference in the election
  • Collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia
  • Leaks to the media

House Oversight:

  • Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, including payments he received.

Special Counsel:

  • Any attempt to obstruct justice by Trump, or his allies
  • The Trump campaign’s ties to Russia
  • Russian meddling in the 2016 election
  • Possible financial crimes by Trump associates

Now let’s be clear. It is conceivably possible that all 5 of the aforementioned inquiries could result in finding that President Trump is as clean as the Board of Health. His right wing chorus has already acquitted him. They routinely and hyper-vigorously exclaim he is the victim of haters, left wing liberals, Democrats, the Main Stream Media, and the deep state. This, of course, is where I normally note, for example,  that most of the so-called leaks occurred in his White House. You know, the one in which he has appointed all the staff and Councils…including those who’ve failed to make it eight full months; see a list of at least 30 people and two Councils, including the following:

  • General Michael Flynn – National Security Advisor (resigned) – 22 days
  • Sean Spicer – Press Secretary (resigned) – 182 days
  • Anthony Scaramucci – Director of Communications (fired) – 10 days
  • Reince Priebus – Chief of Staff (resigned) – 189 days
  • Steve Bannon (mutual agreement) – 210 days
  • Sebastian Gorka (unclear) – 217 days
  • Carl Ichan (resigned) – 210 days
  • White House Manufacturing Council (dissolved) – 201 days
  • White House Economic Council (dissolved) – 201 days
  • Denise Morrison – Advisory Council (resigned) – 201 days
  • Inge Thulin – Advisory Council (resigned) 201 days
  • Thea Lee – Advisory Council (resigned) 200 days
  • Scott Paul – Advisory Council (resigned) 200 days
  • Richard Trumka – Advisory Council (resigned) 200 days
  • Kenneth C. Frazier – Advisory Council (resigned) – 199 days
  • Kevin Plank – Advisory Council – (resigned) – 199 days
  • Brian Krzanich – Advisory Council (resigned) – 199 days
  • Derek Harvey National Security Council Advisor (fired) – 186 days
  • Michael Short Assistant Press Secretary (resigned) – 186 days
  • Walter Shaub Director Office of Government Ethics (resigned) – 180 days – (resigned)
  • Robert Iger – Advisory Council (resigned) – 133 days (resigned)
  • Elon Musk – Advisory Council (resigned) – 132 days
  • Mike Dubke – Director of Communications (resigned) – 85 days
  • T. McFarland – Deputy National Security Advisor (resigned) 117 days
  • James Comey – FBI Director (fired) – 109 days
  • Angela Reid – Chief Usher (fired) – 105 days
  • Katie Walsh – Deputy White House Chief of Staff (resigned) – 69 days
  • Craig Deare – National Security Council Senior Director (fired) – 26 days
  • Travis Kalanick – Advisory Council (resigned) – 13 days
  • Sally Yates – Acting Attorney General – fired – 10 days

As we watch while Texans battle the elements and fight to emerge from Hurricane Harvey, be reminded that hurricane season is just a little more than 60% over, and will remain with us until November 30th. With that in mind, it’s even more important to retain focus, and keep your eye on the ball. I noted above that there is a GOP effort underway to sunset the Mueller Investigation at 6 months. Trump and his acolytes will try to deflect and if possible, even short-circuit the efforts to get to the bottom of any Trump shenanigans related to disrupting our election process. They, in effect, promote the notion of move along, nothing to see here.

I would not suggest they are going out of their way to exploit the tragedy of the hurricane for this purpose, but they will leverage the moment if we are not diligent about holding the President and his team accountable for the ten items I enumerated and more. If, as his backers suggest, there is nothing here but the overactive machinations of Democrats, if that is actually true, then just humor us, and allow the investigations, all of them, to run their course unfettered. What better way to robustly validate the unassailability of that theory?

At the end of the day, we are a democracy, and if we do not ensure that our elections are free and fair, what do we have left? Russia. We are better than that. Don’t fall for the okey-doke. Hurricane Harvey: Unprecedented and Fortuitously Timely!”

Holla back!

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

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

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

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

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump’s-business-sought-deal-on-a-trump-tower-in-moscow-while-he-ran-for-president/ar-AAqOjEs?li=BBnb7Kz

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/politics/north-korea-south-korea-us-military-exercise/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/trump-russia-investigations/?utm_term=.49bf181a2172

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/29/politics/trump-jr-russia-senate-testimony/index.html

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

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/29/politics/mueller-manafort-attorney-spokesman-subpoenas/index.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/29/ron-desantis-wants-to-shorten-probe-into-trump-russia-ties/612029001/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-transgender-idUSKCN1BA016

http://www.ydr.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/29/ron-desantis-wants-to-shorten-probe-into-trump-russia-ties/612029001/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-charlottesville-response-sinks-gop-130035915.html

Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux

It’s time to “Break It Down!”

(Note: This is a Reprised and Amended Presentation of My Original Blog Post)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY “BREAK IT DOWN!”

Today, in acknowledgement of the 10th anniversary of “Break It Down,” As I have done occasionally in the past, I am revisiting my inaugural blog posting. Unlike in the past, I will augment the discussion, in light of having a new, also inexperienced President.

Tempus fugit (Time Flies)!  Sunday marked another significant milestone in the life and development of “Break It Down!”  I initiated this blog August 20, 2007, on a lark…almost a dare.  That was ten years (and 529 editions) ago.  Having related the story a number of times over the past several years, I will not repeat the complete details today.

I will note that on that summer’s eve, I contemplated and discussed, in five paragraphs, the experience, or in reality the lack thereof, of then Senator Barack Obama, as he navigated the early stages of his historic Presidential Campaign.  The prodigious parameters of that history were not evident at the time.  To be sure, over the next 14-½ months, he bested the odds and won not only the Democratic Nomination, but also the Presidency, not so unlike what Donald Trump did in 2015-16.  In so doing, my lack of conviction, along with that of many others, in Mr. Obama’s ability to claim the nation’s biggest political prize, was exposed as a patently errant assessment.

I want to make one more note about the blog.  In addition to this week marking the Tenth Anniversary of Break It Down, this week’s post commemorates the Five-year Anniversary of using WordPress as my primary Host Platform.  The link, http://TheSphinxofCharlotte.com is simpler and more straightforward than the Blogger (Blogspot) link, http://TheSphinxofCharlotte.blogspot.com.  The site design and presentation at Word Press is cleaner, and less busy than the one at Blogger.  Please note, while I may migrate Break It Down exclusively to WordPress, the blog remains available at both sites for the foreseeable future.

So this was the message in Post #1, five brisk paragraphs and a sign-off:

In an apparent calculated act of derring-do, Obama declares the virtue of inexperience. Gotta love it!   😉

Personal footnote of recollection: I recall Jimmy Carter running the “anti-Washington” (i.e., lack of Capitol Hill experience) campaign in ’75-76. You know what, it worked.

The problem was, once JC sent all the reigning bureaucrats & policy wonks home, he was left with an assembly of newbies who didn’t understand how to get things done in DC. The result was a very smart guy, genuine humanitarian, and erstwhile successful leader presided over a disastrous presidency, fraught with innumerable policy failures (see the Shah of Iran, double-digit inflation, & the outrageous Interest/Mortgage rate morass) and public relations gaffes (remember the killer rabbit, and the failed helicopter gambit).

Fortunately for him he was able to live long enough and subsequently do enough good deeds to distance himself from most of an unremarkable tenure as a one-term president, followed by a resounding defeat by that cowboy actor Teflon guy.

Of course none of that has anything to do with Obama…except in the unlikely even he prevails, let’s hope he doesn’t take that inexperience thing too far. As W constantly reminds us, getting to the White House is one thing (after all, he’s done it twice), providing prudent and effective leadership once there is quite another.

’06!

Posted on Mon, Aug. 20, 2007

Just for perspective, see a story the news carried on the subject that day:

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS DEBATE IN IOWA

Obama posits virtue of inexperience

What rivals criticize as naiveté, he presents as break from status quo

MIKE GLOVER

Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa –Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday tried to parlay his relative lack of national experience into a positive attribute, chiding his rivals for adhering to “conventional thinking” that led the country to war and has divided the country.

In their latest debate, the candidates also said they favored more federal action to address economic woes that have resulted from a housing slump and tighter credit. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called the current financial crisis “the Katrina of the mortgage-lending industry.”

Prodded by moderator George Stephanopoulos at the outset of the debate, Obama’s rivals critiqued his recent comments on Pakistan and whether he would meet with foreign leaders — including North Korea’s head of state — without conditions.

“To prepare for this debate I rode in the bumper cars at the state fair,” the first-term senator from Illinois said to laughter and applause from the audience at Drake University.

The debate capped an intense week of politicking in Iowa, an early voting state in the process of picking a nominee. The Iowa State Fair is a magnet for White House hopefuls each presidential election.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., directly addressing a question about Obama’s relative inexperience, said: “You’re not going to have time in January of ’09 to get ready for this job.” Dodd has served in Congress for more than 30 years.

Former Sen. John Edwards said Obama’s opinions “add something to this debate.” But Edwards said politicians who aspire to be president should not talk about hypothetical solutions to serious problems.

“It effectively limits your options,” Edwards said.

Obama said he could handle the rigors of international diplomacy and noted that many in the race, including Dodd, Edwards and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joe Biden, voted to authorize the Iraq war in 2002.

“Nobody had more experience than Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and many of the people on this stage that authorized this war,” Obama said. “And it indicates how we get into trouble when we engage in the sort of conventional thinking that has become the habit in Washington.”

The debate, hosted and broadcast nationally by ABC, took place less than five months before Iowa caucus-goers begin the process of selecting the parties’ presidential nominees.

As we reflect upon the Campaign of 2008 it really does harken the recognition of how swiftly time and events pass.  Indeed, I am especially reminded of how a supremely confidently the Senator approached his moment.  I shall always recall that it propelled me to write, “Obama Plays the Inexperience Card!” Needless to say, he has gained an enormous amount of experience in the intervening years.

As I wrap this up in 2017, it is with an entirely new vantage point, and a completely different appreciation for what an inexperienced Barack Obama brought to his job, vis-à-vis what an inexperienced Donald Trump is currently bringing to the job. Mr. Obama inherited a fragile country with a downward spiraling economy, a nearly double-digit employment rate, and a foreboding 700,000 job losses per month. By the time he left 8 years later, the unemployment rate had been halved, to less than 5%, the country enjoyed the longest period of consecutive job gains, 75 months, in history, over 11 million jobs had been added, including 1.2 million in his last 6 months in office, while the Dow Jones rose from a slumping 7,949 when he took office to 19, 887 when he exited. While no President controls every single lever that triggers all that happens during his tenure, when things go south, he occupies the space where the proverbial buck stops. Conversely, when things trend rosy, he gets a fair amount of the shine.

In that light, Mr. Trump entered office in a much different environment, benefiting from what can rightfully be called the Obama Recovery. Let’s be clear. There is definitely still work to do. But anyone who suggests that Obama didn’t bequeath more and better than he inherited is full of bovine excrement. Full stop!

With that said, these are the salad days of the Trump Administration. It must be said he has delighted his base. At least the ones with whom I have spoken believe he’s the cat’s meow, and they say (whether they believe it or not) he’s been doing exactly what they hoped for when they voted for him. I would suggest that anyone who didn’t vote him, or support him, or who is undecided about supporting him, should let that sink in for a moment or two, or twenty.

Team Trump contends Democrats, liberals, the Main Stream Media, and some nebulous ill-defined entity referred to as the deep state, are solely responsible for all that has stymied or delayed even potential successes by the Trump Administration. So, health care, travel ban (or whatever appellation one cares to affix to it), Transgender Military Policy, Charlottesville Messaging, the Obama wire tapping claim, the Flynn firing, the Comey firing, the Spicer firing, the Priebus firing, the Scaramucci firing, the Bannon firing, and oh by the way dare I say, his tweets…Can we really blame all that on the Party that holds a minority in both houses, or a media that has no votes, and presumably no say in who Trump hires in the first place, or fires for that matter, or on the deep state, whatever the Sam Hill that is?

If you are a Trump trooper, you can, and you most certainly do. If you are not, then you probably think such an assertion is sheer lunacy on its face. Perhaps…just maybe, he is finding difficulty gaining traction because he is not only fighting through an experience deficit, but he is operating with a startling lack of curiosity, matched only by an overabundance of hubris. All things considered, I am inclined to look back on the time when I wrote, Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux,” and conclude that we (who should be a grateful nation) were considerably better served than with the current inexperienced occupant of the Oval Office.

I’m done; holla back!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/27/news/economy/senate-skinny-repeal-health-care/index.html

http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/nationworld/report/062717_scotus_travel_ban/trump-gets-partial-win-from-supreme-court-stalled-travel-ban/

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/top-us-general-promises-military-transgender-policy-now/story?id=48885302

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-on-charlottesville-i-think-theres-blame-on-both-sides/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/04/politics/trump-obama-wiretap-tweet/index.html

http://people.com/politics/donald-trump-covfefe-tweet/

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/08/17/trump-tweets-general-pershing-bullets-pigs-blood-sot-nr.cnn

He Is Who We Thought He Was: End of Story!

It’s time to Break It Down!

In June 2015, Donald J. Trump burst on the scene as a GOP Presidential candidate that few people gave much of a chance to survive the first primary, much less become the venerable Party’s nominee, and certainly few if any expected him to advance to assume the mantel of the presidency. Trump has a long history of prominence as a businessman. But for more than two years now, his forays in the headlines of the national news, or as he frequently says, the fake news, have come primarily as a politician.

Allow me to pivot for a moment. I have read and watched news for most of my life. As a matter of fact, before I began school, my mother taught me to read using the local newspaper. So, I have maintained a nearly life-long, almost six decades, relationship with news periodicals and TV newscasts. I say all that to underscore that from 2009 to 2016, I saw President Obama castigated regularly in news reports almost every day, and called virtually every negative appellation that his detractors could think of and say.

Returning to the moment, I notice that newscasters on most networks are careful to avoid calling Mr. Trump a liar. When there are Trump supporters on the shows, who are either asked questions about Trump’s truthfulness, or are engaged by someone who has the temerity to actually call Mr. Trump a liar, falsifier, or even some less direct euphemism, they quickly push back arguing neither they, nor the “offender,” knows what is in Mr. Trump’s heart, and they insist that it is therefore unfair, and out of bounds to call him a liar. In those instances, when it is flatly impossible to divest him of having spoken untruths, they persist in noting that to lie, one must not only make a false statement, but one also must do so with the deliberate intent to deceive. With that distinction in mind, I don’t know what is in Trump’s heart. What I do know is he speaks untruths on what intrinsically seems like a historic rate.

To put that in terms that have been captured and catalogued, The New York Times (NYT), on June 21st, published an updated list of what the headline characterized as, “Trumps Lies.” Mr. Trump uttered each of the items on the list after he took office. To be clear, those are the words of the NYT. I’m confident they researched and lawyered the list before publishing it. Here is an abridged sampling:

That’s just a baker’s dozen listing of the president’s lying, misleading, and deceptive statements…all since he has become President of the United States of America. But let’s not forget, his political emergence was fueled by a lie; the assertion that Barack Obama was not born in America. I have long maintained he is methodically working to establish a framework in which facts, truth, and even reality is irrelevant. According to the NYT story, Trump lied publicly at least 20 of his first 40 days in office, and made untrue statements for the first 40 days.

Now, allow me to shift gears. If the L-Word (lie) has been discouraged like crosses at a vampire family dinner, the pretend horror and feigned personal offense taken by conservatives about the ubiquitous R-Word (that’s racist, just so we are clear), when referring to Trump, and his Executive Office associates, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, is so great, one would think Obamacare was still the law of the land. Oh wait. It is!

As most of us know, there was a small gathering this weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Jason Kessler, a self-described “pro-white” activist organized a rally to protest taking down a statue of General Robert E. Lee in the City of Charlottesville. Lee commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. To put that in the least complex terms possible, he was a key figure in a war…against the USA. His aforementioned surrender was important for one reason in particular. It meant his side lost!

Saturday’s rally was preceded on Friday night by a group of Tiki-torch carrying members of the above referenced activists who marched across the campus of the University of Virginia. The symbolic scene was reminiscent of Klansmen carrying torches and burning crosses.

By Saturday as the crowd assembled for the protest, the group consisted of the KKK, neo-Nazis, members of the Alt-right, and other white supremacists, or as they frequently euphemistically refer to themselves, white nationalists, many of them armed with long rifles and other weapons, shields, helmets, and other paramilitary gear. To paraphrase Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, they were better armed than our State Police.

The good news is, the available weaponry on hand notwithstanding, neither the protesters, nor members of law enforcement fired a single shot. I did not hear, read, or see that any of the counter protesters bore firearms. However, that was not where the story ended. The bad news is an individual described as a Nazi sympathizer weaponized his vehicle, crashed it into other vehicles, then backed up, and in the process, killed Heather Heyer of Charlottesville, and injured 19 people. In addition to Ms. Heyer’s untimely death, two state troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, VA, and Trooper-Pilot Berka M.M. Bates, of Quinton, VA, perished when their helicopter crashed while they were monitoring the events of the protest.

After these events Saturday, Trump spoke about the matter. He squeezed his remarks into a speech meant to be part of signing a Veteran’s bill expanding a program to allow veterans to seek private medical care. In perhaps the kindest thing he has said about former President Obama since he has taken office, he indemnified Obama, in a backhanded way, by conceding that the hatred and bigotry preceded both he and Obama. He went on to make a false equivalency, lamenting the actions that occurred on “many sides:”

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.

It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long time.”

Trump failed to mention the display of white supremacy or Nazi symbols in Charlottesville Saturday. His omission led to considerable pushback among both Democrats and Republicans. It’s not an overstatement to say his lack of citing the racist elements that fueled the events was the top story of the weekend. If anything competed with Trump’s own billing, it was that of input from former KKK leader David Duke, who articulated he was pleased with the protest because it made clear that Donald Trump’s promise to “Take back our country,” will be fulfilled. He also tweeted a poignant reminder to Mr. Trump:

“I would recommend you take a look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

That’s a sobering show of force from a member of Team Trump’s base. Alternately, there was an unquestionable expression of disappointment by numerous Republicans. For a brief time Monday, it actually appeared that the disconnect in his Party may have resonated with the president, and forced him into reflection mode. So much so, that Monday Donald Trump rendered a second statement, one in which he pointedly addressed the role of the negative and racist factions. For one day, he submitted to the influence of better angels…and a lot of concerned Republicans. He stated the following:

“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

This head spinning about-face did not sit well with much of Trump’s base, and ultimately, not with him. Numerous reports noted that Monday’s more fulsome statement seemed scripted and forced. More than a few observers concluded, his heart did not appear to be in it.

Well, much like a weather vane, if one waits a moment, in this case a day, Trump’s point of view and position on the matter changed again. Tuesday at Trump Tower, he came out with a copy of his Saturday comments in his pocket, and he went full-fledged reverse as he delivered statement number three on the subject. He had this, among other things, to say at that time:

“I think there is blame on both sides. What about the Alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the Alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.

You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now.”

So there you have it. At one point he drew a fake comparison; at another point he maintained there was a moral equivalency between the purveyors of historical racist and bigoted practices, and those who have been historically oppressed and victimized by such behavior. How can one square that? Well, friends and neighbors, for me, it’s pretty simple. When it comes to Donald J. Trump, just as with the issue of whether he is a compulsive liar, there are those who passionately defend him, and insist that he is not. When it comes to the question of whether he is a confirmed racist, I’m sure the same holds true. You can imagine how his acolytes respond to the compound question, is he a megalomaniacal compulsive liar, who is also a confirmed racist?

You already know…”He Is Who We Thought He Was: End of Story!” It’s really just that simple.

Holla back!

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

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

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

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/23/catalog-of-donald-trump-lies/425312001/

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/donald-trump-lies-liar-effect-brain-214658

http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/nyt-lists-every-lie-trump-has-told-as-president-976365123815

http://thehill.com/media/339250-nyt-fact-checks-trump-in-feature-titled-trumps-lies

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/23/catalog-of-donald-trump-lies/425312001/

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

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

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

http://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-jason-kessler-unite-the-right-charlottesville-2017-8

https://www.vox.com/2017/8/12/16138246/charlottesville-nazi-rally-right-uva

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/12/charlottesville-white-nationalist-rally-blamed-for-3-deaths-dozens-injuries.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-to-comment-on-violence-in-charlottesville-over-white-nationalist-rally-live-updates/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/trump-charlottesville-delay/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/donald-trump-charlottesville-lines/index.html

Reversal of Fortunes: Governor Dumps Party, Senator Balks at Party Line

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last week I examined Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s op-ed for Politico Magazine, in which he in effect, took on what has become the GOP Party orthodoxy under #45. Flake’s unexpected revelation of conscience, not coincidentally, coincided with the release of his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative.” The timing of Senator Flake’s rebellion was somewhat ironic in that it followed a week in which his fellow Arizona Senator, John McCain, also rebuffed the President and his Party’s hard driving initiative to pass the so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare by the Senate.

In the normal course of human events, it is all but certain that what goes around, comes around. Often this happens sooner rather than later, certainly quicker than we might expect. This…is one of those times. On last Thursday, at a Trump Rally in Huntington, West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced his plans to switch his affiliation to the Republican Party. Three days later, Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday that he would not be toeing the party line on every issue. Just like that, the Grand Canyon State and the Mountain State completed a game of political musical chairs in a matter of ten days.

At last Thursday’s rally, Governor Justice had this to say:

“Today I will tell you as West Virginians, I can’t help you anymore being a Democrat governor, So tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican.”

This isn’t Justice’s first rodeo when it comes to switching parties. He was previously an independent and a Republican up until 2015 when he ran for governor as a Democrat. It is likely this move signals a bigger shift in the state’s political landscape. In Governor Justice’s latest State of the State address, he mentioned Trump five times, and noted his good friendship with the Trump family.

Like Trump, Justice is a billionaire who ran for election as a newcomer to politics, and was elected in November 2016. During his campaign, he took pains to show he was no fan of Clinton. “I cannot be a supporter of Hillary Clinton,” Justice told a West Virginia radio station last August.

After Justice moves across the aisle as reported, the GOP Governorship advantage over Democrats will increase to 34 to 15. Governor Bill Walker of Alaska is a registered Independent.

Although Senator Manchin did not switch parties, he made a much more, shall we say, colorful statement. In his Sunday comments to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, he said:

“I don’t give a s–t, you understand? I just don’t give a s–t. Don’t care if I get elected, don’t care if I get defeated, how about that? If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for s–t that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy. I’m not scared of an election, let’s put it that way. Elections do not bother me or scare me.

The bottom line is, if it doesn’t help West Virginia, it doesn’t make sense to me, and just because there’s an election doesn’t mean I sign on or don’t sign on.”

Interestingly, while Justice’s action preceded Manchin’s, the Senator not only didn’t switch parties, he took the occasion of making a statement on the Governor’s move to indicate that he intends to continue to remain in the Democratic Party. At that time he said in a prepared statement:

“I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat. I am disappointed by Gov. Justice’s decision to switch parties. While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia.”

Senator Manchin is up for re-election in 2018. With Justice’s move, Manchin will become West Virginia’s only statewide elected Democrat besides treasurer John Perdue.

Let’s just say, if it’s not already clear, Donald Trump carried West Virginia by almost infinity, in electoral math terms, 67.9 to 26.2, or 41.7 percentage points. Rewind back to the Arizona results, and the difference is stark. Trump still won, but only by a margin of 48.1 to 44.6, or 3.5 percentage points. While that’s not exactly a cliffhanger, when compared to the West Virginia results, it was obviously close enough to embolden McCain and Flake to rebel, whereas, Justice and Manchin are figuratively praying at the altar of Trump. In fairness, Senator McCain has developed a reputation as a Party Maverick. Still, if Trump’s success in his state mirrored that of the Mountain State, chances are McCain and Flake would be considerably more reserved in their Party pushback.

The point of this post was primarily to point out how quickly the McCain-Flake incidents boomeranged to give us the Justice-Manchin decision and comments. However, another notion I would like to advance and leave with you, especially if you read last week’s action as a sign of the beginning of the end for TrumpWorld, by all means, slow your roll. I closed last week with a reminder of my assessment that Trump-Pence will be around for a while, and at least for the foreseeable future.

I understand why it’s tempting to doubt that. There are a number of investigations, engendering enough smoke to suggest there’s a legitimate fire in our midst. And there may in fact be some fire out there. We’ll see soon enough. In the interim, just keep these sobering data points in mind:

  • The GOP holds a 34-15 advantage in Governorships.
  • The GOP holds a 241-194 advantage in House Members
  • The GOP holds a 52-48 advantage in the Senate (Including Independents who caucus with Democrats)
  • The GOP controls both legislative chambers in 32 states
  • The GOP controls 67 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers
  • Trump won 2,622 Counties – Clinton won 490 Counties
  • Since the election of Barack Obama in 2009, Democrats have lost 919 seats in state legislatures

Those are numbers that should spark grave concern by anyone who leans toward the ideals fostered and supported by Democrats, unless, of course, you subscribe to Trumpist philosophy and just deem it all to be fake news. I assure you, it’s the “realest.” Sad, very sad. And with that I give youReversal of Fortunes: Governor Dumps Party, Senator Balks at Party Line!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy2cFE3kxAY

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/71d14817-623d-30cf-894d-748d63f64bf2/ss_senator-says-he-won’t-vote.html

http://nypost.com/2017/08/07/senator-says-he-wont-vote-with-party-doesnt-give-a-s-t-if-it-costs-him-election/amp/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/03/politics/west-virginia-gov-republican-democrat/index.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/west-virginia-governor-jim-justice-trump-rally/535890/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/03/politics/jim-justice-west-virginia-governor-party-switch/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/08/03/west-virginias-democratic-governor-announces-switch-to-republican-party.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/report-west-virginia-governor-to-announce-hes-switching-parties/

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

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

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

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

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/after-winning-7-more-seats-gop-dominance-state-legislatures-all

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/14/1598918/-Republicans-now-dominate-state-government-with-32-legislatures-and-33-governors

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/07/34-states-have-republican-governors-most-since-1922/

Newsflash: Four GOP Senators Do/Say The Right Thing

It’s time to Break It Down!

For the past 6 and half months, #45 has been the principal resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia. For more than a year and a half before that, he was a candidate for the highest political office in the world. During that entire period, more than 2 years total, he and his supporters, surrogates, and spinners have actively engaged in moving the goal posts with regard to facts, truth, and even science.

Time after time over the past couple of years I have engaged individuals in conversation that firmly believe that just as he says he’s going to, Trump is indeed, Making America Great Again. Right out of the gate, I concede I am among the first to admit, I sincerely doubt that, it is not just that overarching claim that repulses me, it is the methodical underlying narratives that I find so vexing.

His surrogates and spinners have constructed a pair of cutesy phrases to explain Team Trump’s bogus propositions, and to otherwise defend the ruses that reflect the schemes and conspiracy theories they love to promote…all apparently designed to deflect attention from the many preposterous positions and actions this administration has taken. The two terms I referenced above, fake news and alternative facts, are the exclamation points his acolytes use to attenuate and downgrade any political or policy arguments that do not align with Trumpology.

Until recently, despite the frequency and volume of instances which reason would ordinarily dictate a pause is in order, Team Trump’s position has been to soldier on despite facts, despite science, and sadly, despite countervailing truth. Alas, slowly, but surely, there may just be a glimmer of hope. Last week, in the face of a full court press by the Trump Administration, the GOP Senate leadership, and the vast majority of its rank and file members, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and John McCain (R-Arizona) joined forces to create what journalists deemed a dramatic moment in the U.S. Senate.

This trio of Republicans pushed back against conservative GOP orthodoxy and joined with the Senate’s 48 Democrats to prevent passage of what was euphemistically called the skinny repeal of Obamacare, a cynical bit of legislation that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to squeeze through in the middle of the night without significant debate or review. The bill was ultimately voted down after 1:00 a.m. last Friday morning.

Senator McCain, noted as a maverick in his Party, came back to Washington 11 days after surgery to remove a blood clot during which it was determined he had a brain tumor known as a glioblastoma. In his initial vote after returning, he voted to allow the skinny repeal to be debated. In doing so, he gave a speech that seemed to presage his eventual vote on the actual bill. At least, that’s how it turned out. McCain cast the pivotal vote, and has garnered much of the resulting attention for dealing the ultimate death knell to the bill. Yet, Collins and Murkowski merit equal billing for their late night and early morning work. Had any one of the three defected, the 49-51 vote would have been 50-50, and Vice President Pence would have cast the deciding vote to push the bill over the top.

So, fast-forward to this week. This past Monday, a politician wrote in an op-ed for Politico Magazine. In the piece he said:

“To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties, and tremendous powers of denial.”

Absent any inside baseball knowledge about the above referenced op-ed, especially given the preamble about Team Trump talking points, a logical conclusion is that, at the very least, the op-ed writer is a Democrat. However, that was not the case. In fact, said writer is not only a politician, but also a Republican politician. Moreover, he is a U.S. Senator.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) penned the op-ed. It was essentially an essay, excerpted from his new book, entitled, “Conscience of a Conservative,” released yesterday. In it, he argues that the GOP was responsible for making Trump a phenomenon of national proportion when it opted to vehemently oppose President Obama at every turn. Flake stated expressly:

“It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us.”

I have argued relentlessly that the impetus for the largely otherwise inexplicable Trump love fest is the raging anti-Obama sentiment held by a key political and ideological segment of the country. I believe without question, there were a number of issues that contributed to the Trump victory, including Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, Wikileaks, James Comey, and Russia. None of them, however, in my opinion, was more impactful that the 8 years of GOP inspired and executed anti-Obama tactics and strategies. Even today, more than half a year into the Trump era, it is common for his supporters to hearken back to President Obama as a standard point of deflection for spates of contemporary Trump Madness. Flake’s op-ed/essay underscores my argument in spades, as he states the following:

“But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president – the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued.”

In another passage, Senator Flake quotes conservative columnist, Michael Gerson, who wrote in May:

“The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and conservative institutions “with the blessings of a president…have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.”

On many occasions I have explained in minute detail the numerous reasons why I think Trump Season will last at least 4 years, and not inconceivably 8 years. While the actions of these four Senators do not raise my level of optimism for a shortened term, I have allowed myself to hope for an elevated level of accountability. We will see.

So remember, while it’s uncertain whether these actions will permanently change the course of history, they are important. Better than that, they just mightNewsflash: Four GOP Senators Do/Say The Right Thing!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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

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

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/jeff-flake-bashes-fellow-republicans-essay-trump-article-1.3373977

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/31/my-party-is-in-denial-about-donald-trump-215442

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

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-mccain-murkowski-collins-obamacare-repeal-replace-20170728-story.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasies, Fiction, and Falsehoods: That’s The Real Fake News

It’s time to Break It Down!

There are few phrases more oft repeated since the inauguration of the 45th President than fake news. Few people utter it more often than conservatives who nearly spontaneously combust in their effusive efforts to issue a retort to some statement they feel unfairly debases or attacks Donald The Great.

Last night, #45 asserted that he could be the “most presidential” President in the history of the country with one notable exception. Yes, even our current Commander-in-Chief was able to admit that President Lincoln was better. What he actually said was this:

“With the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president in history.”

This most “immodest” Fantasy was something that Trump and his bigly appointed brain was able to conceive, despite, having served only slightly more than six months in the Oval Office, and without having shepherded one single piece of notable legislation to successful completion, i.e., not having passed a (significant) bill. What in the Sam Hill could have possessed him?

Let me be perfectly clear; Donald Trump is not without a noteworthy accomplishment as President. He is, in point of fact, the first President in American history to win and assume office with no prior governing or military experience. While I do not recall him having drawn attention to that point, if he were to do so, I would be among the first to co-sign and extend praise for that singular accomplishment. Though, I must concede, I’m still uncertain whether that says more about his talent, leadership, skills, and abilities, or the collective malfeasance of an electorate that unwittingly dismissed a 228 year-old standard, I’m content to let you be the judge of that. However, that’s not a point of debate; at least not for this post. Feel free to take whatever side of that particular issue you choose. My single point of emphasis in raising this particular matter is Mr. Trump earned kudos for that achievement.

Of course, almost as soon as he took office, he apparently started looking for the most creative of ways to undermine what could be one of, if not his most important personal accomplishment as President, up to and including the here and now. The day after his inauguration, he trotted out his press secretary, Sean Spicer, who immediately began to spray the American people with not fully formed machinations otherwise known as Trump Fiction. Spicey, as SNL affectionately dubbed him, posited that Trump claimed his was the largest Inaugural crowd ever on the National Mall. Not surprisingly, this ludicrous assertion was immediately rebutted with historical film footage and photographs. The Spiceman would ultimately alter this allegation by amending the claim to include televised and Internet coverage. A couple of days after Spicer’s initial bovine excrement, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, inserted the term alternative facts into the conversation. If this falsehood had been revised any more, it would have needed to have been replaced by Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner’s, SF-86 Form.

In an Orwellian, post-truth, newspeak kind of world, this probably made perfect sense. Otherwise…not so much. As she has subsequently done with a number of other issues, Ms. Conway maintained that #45 believes his crowd was larger. Apparently, ipso facto, facts, proof, and evidence, notwithstanding, that makes it true. Alas, 2017 is not 1984, but the dystopian propaganda model is alive, well, and thriving in TrumpWorld.

Let’s face it. Trump has repeatedly dismissed the knowledge and wisdom of experts while elevating non-experts who lack relevant experience into important jobs across the federal government. You might even say, apart from muckraking tweet storms and rants, pairing high profile posts with incompetent and undeserving appointees is sort of his stock-in-trade. From Education Secretary to Energy Secretary, to Housing and Urban Development Secretary, to Communications Director, to name just four, the President has forced highly successful square pegs of people into hugely important round holes of responsibility. Mrs. DeVos has no public school experience, nor any reported or apparent affinity, Rick Perry didn’t even know the Energy Department, which he famously couldn’t recall as a candidate, is responsible for our nation’s nukes, Dr. Carson did live near public housing; kudos for that (tongue firmly implanted in cheek), and Mr. Scaramucci, whom to his credit, does have TV cred. Yet, he has no experience managing communications. Alternately, what he does have is a Goldman Sachs legacy. Oh yeah, drain that swamp (Said Trump).

To expand the list of examples for your consideration, here are a few interesting, if not bizarre examples of Trump’s philosophy of “Apprenticing” his appointees:

  • Party planner Lynne Patton, who helped plan Eric Trump’s wedding but had no professional experience in housing, was appointed last month to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s office for the region that covers New York and New Jersey.
  • Trump nominated someone who is not a credentialed scientist to be the Agriculture Department’s chief scientist. Sam Clovis has described himself as “extremely skeptical” about the expert consensus on climate change. The post he’s been tapped for has been occupied by a string of individuals with advanced degrees in science or medicine.
  • News broke that Trump will nominate a prominent coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, to serve as the No. 2 at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, the Trumpists have actively taken steps to prevent experts from doing their jobs. The EPA removed several agency websites in April that contained detailed climate data and scientific information, including one that had been cited to challenge statements made by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. One of the Web pages that was shuttered had existed for nearly two decades and explained what climate change is and how it worked.

Recently, Trump’s political appointees at the Interior Department abruptly removed two top climate experts from a delegation scheduled to show Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg around Glacier National Park.

The administration is heavily populated with people who lack qualifications that would have been prerequisites to get the same jobs in past Republican and Democratic administrations. It starts at the top: No one not named Trump seriously believes that the president’s daughter and son-in-law could have gotten their plum West Wing jobs if not for nepotism.

Jared Kushner purportedly proposed to Russia’s ambassador the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin last December, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring by the U.S. government.

The president, for his part, didn’t want any professionals from the government, including the Russia expert on the National Security Council, to sit in on his meeting with Vladimir Putin. The Russians also reportedly recommended that a note taker be present, but Trump refused.

Trump attacked federal judges who found that his travel ban was unconstitutional. Then he criticized professional lawyers in his own Justice Department for pursuing a “watered down” version of the ban that could withstand judicial scrutiny.

The director of the independent Office of Government Ethics, a persistent critic of the Trump administration’s approach to ethics, stepped down last week nearly six months before his term was scheduled to end. Walter M. Shaub Jr. drew the ire of administration officials when he challenged Trump to fully divest from his business empire and chastised Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump products from the White House briefing room.

Trump said he knew more about war than the generals. He cast doubt upon the medical community consensus that vaccines do not cause autism. And he said a federal judge of Mexican descent couldn’t objectively adjudicate a fraud lawsuit against Trump University because of his heritage. That judge was born in Indiana, by the way. Speaker Paul Ryan called this “the textbook definition” of a racist statement at the time.

Trump’s embrace of experts and expertise is situational. Candidate Trump often claimed that the government’s unemployment rate was “totally fiction,” even though the economists who tabulate it are insulated from political pressure. “Don’t believe these phony numbers,” Trump said at a rally last year. “The [real] number is probably 28 [percent], 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

But when there was a good jobs report in March, which showed the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, then-press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump now believes the same numbers. “They may have been phony in the past, but they are very real now,” Spicer said.

In a new book entitledThe Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters,” Tom Nichols describes Trump’s victory last November as “undeniably one of the most recent—and one of the loudest—trumpets sounding the impending death of expertise.” 

“The abysmal literacy, both political and general, of the American public is the foundation for all of these problems. It is the soil in which all of the other dysfunctions have taken root and prospered, with the 2016 election only its most recent expression.

In summation, despite the cacophonous cries of right wing outrage, there consistently appears to be plenty of there, there. To wit, I submit to you, “Fantasies, Fiction, and Falsehoods: That’s the Real Fake News!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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

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

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/07/24/daily-202-trump-marginalizes-experts-debases-expertise/597548fc30fb043679543214/?utm_term=.30545b97f504&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

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

http://www.businessinsider.com/sean-spicer-berates-media-over-inauguration-crowd-size-coverage-2017-1

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/22/donald-trump-kellyanne-conway-inauguration-alternative-facts

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-21/kushner-s-amended-financial-disclosure-shows-sprawling-assets-j5egyvpg

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/why-jared-kushner-has-had-to-update-his-disclosure-of-foreign-contacts-more-than-once/2017/07/17/b04e8158-6b05-11e7-96ab-5f38140b38cc_story.html?utm_term=.8b74c3557320

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

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

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/22/donald-trump-kellyanne-conway-inauguration-alternative-facts

http://www.businessinsider.com/sean-spicer-berates-media-over-inauguration-crowd-size-coverage-2017-1

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/25/george-orwell-donald-trump-kellyanne-conway-1984

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/forms/sf0086.pdf

 

Another Day, Another Meeting: From Russia With Love

It’s time to Break It Down!

We are having another frenetic news week. Welcome to 2017. To be sure, in the current environment, that’s not an unusual occurrence. Yes, of course there have been hectic news weeks in the past. And there will be more. However, a lot of people I know believe that TrumpWorld has brought us to a unique intersection in history; one unparalleled by almost any measure, except for those that are irrevocably slanted hard right.

A few of the more notable news stories to hit the airways and newsstands since the weekend include:

  • A Fox News Analyst (Shepard Smith) actually called Donald Trump a liar
  • Sean Spicer fell behind the info curve, claimed Kushner’s meeting was about Russian adoption (a euphemism for removing sanctions against human rights abusers)
  • Trumpcare faces demise as two more senators withdraw support
  • With insufficient support for Trumpcare, Trump says let Obamacare fail
  • Tropical Storm Don weakens in the Caribbean, while Tropical Storm Hilary (one L) emerges in the Eastern Pacific
  • The GOP-friendly Wall Street Journal renders a scathing assessment of Donald Trump’s Russiagate (my term, not the Journal’s)
  • A previously unreported meeting between Trump and Putin revealed

That’s seven separate stories and the week is just halfway over. Any of them would fuel a righteous panel discussion or a spirited debate among folks with opposing views; possibly, among even people with similar views. As for today’s post, I saved the best for last. I will elevate and discuss, briefly, the most recently disclosed meeting between Trump and Putin on July 7th during the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

To frame this meeting, which Team Trump says was really not a meeting unto itself, but just an extension of the previous meeting of approximately two hours that has been reported. According to the White House’s official statement, it was “brief.”

In a grander context, with a different cast of characters, that characterization might just fly. But in TrumpWorld…er, I mean, today, given some of the unusual details we have logged into our consciousness, not so much.

This meeting lasted for nearly an hourly, according to a Trump staffer, and included only three people: Trump, Putin, and a Russian translator. When conceding that Trump’s source for understanding the meeting was a Russian translator, the White House source indicated that the U.S. translator at the dinner spoke Japanese. How interesting!

Now no matter how much one embraces the narrative that Mr. Trump is the master deal maker, and great communicator, it’s worth being reminded of his numerous communications faux pas when left to his own devices, whether on Twitter, or in person. Of course, this is not the first time Trump has pushed the envelope in meeting with the Russians. Back on Wednesday May 10th, he met with top Russian officials in the Oval Office. White House officials barred reporters from witnessing the moment. They apparently preferred to block coverage of the awkwardly timed visit as questions swirled about whether the president had dismissed his F.B.I. director in part to squelch the investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Moscow.

The Russians conveniently brought their own media, a largely state-run operation, in the form of an official photographer. They quickly filled the communications vacuum with their own pictures of the meeting with Mr. Trump, Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the United States. Within minutes of the meeting, the Foreign Ministry had posted photographs on Twitter of Mr. Trump and Mr. Lavrov smiling and shaking hands. The Russian embassy posted images of the president grinning and gripping hands with the ambassador. Tass, Russia’s official news agency, released more photographs of the three men laughing together in the Oval Office.

In explaining, and perhaps, more aptly, defending, the circumstances of the meeting, White House staff said the conversation took place in full view (though without translators, probably not understanding) of other world leaders and their spouses at a dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The White House sought to downplay the significance of the “discussion.” Their statement maintained:

“It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”

You know what? That’s true. But you know what is not perfectly normal, or heretofore considered part of the President’s duties? How about taking a meeting in the White House with Russian media, while barring the American press? Or, staying off camera while the Russians follow-up the meeting(s) between our two Presidents, by stating that our President accepted the denial of their President over hacking accusations, when our intelligence agencies are the source of the accusations? Or, how about proposing a joint cyber-security initiative with the country the U.S. intelligence community unanimously concludes hacked our systems…in an effort to hurt your opponent, and help you? Or perhaps, reflection on your number 1 son (chronologically), your son-in-law, and your campaign manager meeting with Russians who say they have intel that will hurt your political rival? The Russians, mind you! No, that is not normal, never was, never will be.

I know a number of individuals of the conservative persuasion. Of those I converse with on a regular basis, most of them say Mr. Trump is doing exactly what they wanted him to do when they voted for him. They not only believe he is acting in a way that is sure to Make America Great Again (MAGA), but that it’s actually happening right before our eyes. Moreover, the only people who don’t realize this are Trump-hating Democrats and liberals.

In point of fact, Democrats are resisting this administration on many levels. If you read my post last week, you know that doesn’t concern me in the least. Many conservatives go into apoplexy, or in some cases, at least feigned apoplexy over this resistance. I must admit my cynicism is heightened whenever I can find no similar apoplectic shock at the constant derision and resistance to all things Obama that was a national constant for the previous eight years. One of the fave responses by conservatives seems to be, Republicans were elected to obstruct Obama. Really? The hades you say! In that case, Democrats were elected to obstruct all things Trump. Resist! And so it is, Another Day, Another Meeting: From Russia With Love!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Russia_with_Love_(film)

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/18/politics/trump-putin-g20/index.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-putin-had-previously-undisclosed-visit-g20-dinner-011956728.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/world/europe/trump-putin-undisclosed-meeting.html?mwrsm=LinkedIn

http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2017/07/18/tropical-storm-don-moos-erin-pkg.cnn

https://www.yahoo.com/tv/fox-news-shepard-smith-slams-white-house-lie-234505034.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/politics/sean-spicer-russia-meeting-claim/index.html

http://www.koat.com/article/gop-health-care-bill-short-of-votes-needed-to-proceed/10320161

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/wsj-stumped-why-trump-is-hiding-his-russia-connections.html

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/07/18/trump-says-time-to-let-obamacare-fail-after-health-bill-stalls.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/us/politics/trump-russia-meeting-american-reporters-blocked.html

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-russia-20170709-story.html