Evangelicals Have Given Trump A Mulligan: It Must Be To Infinity

It’s time to Break It Down!

Before laying out the case that is today’s discourse, let us begin by stipulating a working definition for mulligan. According to Merriam-Webster, mulligan is defined as:

“A free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played” If you’re counting, that’s one shot.

If you are a golfer, you are probably already familiar with the term. If not, think of do-over, fresh start, redo, refresh, renew, restart, or start over. The subtle distinction is, in golf, a mulligan is most often a onetime thing. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you Donald Trump is not a “onetime kinda guy.”

Alas, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the future…or at least the immediate past. Yesterday, Tony Perkins, a former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and current President of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy organization based in Washington, D.C., said in an interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront:”

“Yes, evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do-over. They said we’ll start afresh with you and we’ll give you a second chance.”

The timing of Mr. Perkins’ comments was important in that it followed a Wall Street Journal report that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, formed a private LLC to pay a former porn star in exchange for not speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with the then-candidate. For the record, Mr. Cohen, President Trump, and the former porn star, Stormy Daniels, have all denied the alleged sexual encounter.

Family Research Council is best known for promoting socially conservative family values. One of the foundational pillars of the organization, per its website is promoting marriage and family. This is expressly stated as:

“Family Research Council champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. Properly understood, ‘families’ are formed only by ties of blood, marriage, or adoption, and ‘marriage’ is a union of one man and one woman.”

Mr. Perkins, in clarifying his position, and that of evangelicals and conservatives, writ large, who support President Trump (no matter what), said it is the relationship Trump has built with evangelicals, as well as his “constitutionally conservative” policies, including appointing judges who oppose abortion that garners the support.

You know what? I’m not even gonna trip about this incident. In fact, were it just this one instance, while I would still be inclined to deem it hypocritical, I could at least accept the premise of it being a mulligan. But I think we all know that is not how this President rolls.

What do I mean by that, you may ask? That’s a great question; I’m glad you inquired. It means this gentleman, and I use the term loosely, has a long and lurid history of using words and taking actions upon which conservatives in general, and evangelicals in particular, would routinely frown. But even in golf, he is apparently known for his excesses. That Mr. Perkins employed a golf analogy is apt, because the President has certainly indulged frequently in his love of golf during his first year in office, during which time he is said to take “one free mulligan after another” on the links, according to former ESPN columnist Rick Reilly.

The Right and the Evangelicals attacked President Obama day in and day out during the entire 8 years of his presidency. Eight months into the Trump presidency, it is clear comparisons are there, just begging to be made between Trump and Evangelicals’ hypocritical new stances. As I have noted often, conservatives and evangelicals leap to twist themselves into pretzel shapes, all in an effort to defend Trumpspeak and behavior.

Undoubtedly Mr. Perkins and his evangelical and socially conservative friends are schooled in the ways of our President, and they not only know just what he needs, they are committed to giving it to him. So how about these for do-overs, fresh starts, redo’s, refreshes, renewals, restarts, or start-overs?

  • In 2016, President Obama visited flooded areas of Louisiana. At the time of his visit, there had been 13 deaths, 7 trillion gallons of rainfall, 24 inches of measured rainfall, and an estimated $15 billion in damages had accumulated. Evangelicals lambasted President Obama for not visiting earlier.
  • In 2017, President Trump visited a dry airport near flooded areas of Texas. At the time of his visit, there had been 16 deaths, 11 trillion gallons of rainfall, 49 inches of measured rainfall, and an estimated $50 billion in damages had accumulated. President Trump didn’t hug a neck, kiss a cheek, or wipe a tear. He didn’t encounter water falling from the sky or puddling upon the earth. He didn’t mention the loss of a police officer, or the drowning of a family of six. Evangelicals offered no criticism.
  • In 2012, in anticipation of President Obama’s quick response to Hurricane Sandy, Citizen Trump tweeted: “Not only giving out money, but Obama will be seen today standing in water and rain like he is a real President—don’t fall for it.” He went on: “Obama is now standing in a puddle acting like a President-–give me a break.” ~ October 31, 2012. He was damned for getting to NJ to soon and actually getting his feet wet, and damned for waiting for the water to recede in Louisiana, as the Governor asked him to do.
  • In 2011, evangelicals excoriated Obama for leading from behind and not protecting Libyans from being slaughtered by Gaddafi. Then, after getting others to go first with their troops and money, evangelicals eviscerated President Obama for getting involved in Libya. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.
  • In 2013, when Syria erupted, President Obama sought a Congressional prescription by asking Congress to direct his actions. They refused. The GOP led Congress opted out because had they taken a position, they wouldn’t be able to change it and be on the opposite side of the President. They wanted to be on the opposite side of whatever action he took.
  • In 2010, after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, conservatives castigated President Obama for not doing enough. They named the spill, “Obama’s Katrina.” And then…when President Obama met with BP and persuaded them to pay a $20 billion fine to execute the cleanup, a House GOP member, Joe Barton – TX, openly apologized to the CEO for the shakedown of BP by President Obama, and Rand Paul said President Obama’s criticism of the foreign company was “un-American.” Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. Imagine the crowing Donald J. Trump would have done about his negotiating skills.
  • In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to support President Obama’s initiative to warn the public about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. McConnell would not sign a bipartisan statement about Russia’s efforts. President Obama felt the lack of a bipartisan action would serve the Kremlin’s interest. Naturally, when the conversation emerged after the election, Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals blamed Obama for not doing anything to warn the public about the Russian intrusion. Not just damned if he did, but obstructed, and then damned when he didn’t.

So it is with this serial conservative, GOP, and evangelical hypocrisy as a backdrop that I pen today’s post. Team Trump, which includes an amalgamation of all of the above, and then some, has the unmitigated gall and outrageous audacity to whimper, whine, and whinny that the current criticism of President Trump is unprecedented; worst than any previous president has had to endure. I do not hesitate to convey to you that such a claim fails to pass either the reasonable man (or woman) standard, or any version of a truth test. It’s just a fact-free claim; baseless and absurd on it’s face. What is clear is that…Evangelicals Have Given Trump A Mulligan: It Must Be To Infinity!

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.

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A Distinction Without A Difference: So Not King-like!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is another holiday week. While many may have moved on, 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.

In reflecting on the many works of Dr. King, I decided to revisit a post I wrote and posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, and that I reprised last year, January 18, 2017, examining the advent of the King Holiday. It’s been 32 years since the initial observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday (MLK DAY), and 35 years since President Reagan signed the MLK, Jr. Holiday bill into law. Now seems 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, and 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 denied.

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 5 votes short of the number for passage in the Lower Chamber.

High profile opponents to the measure included Senator Jesse Helms, NCSenator 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 15th, Dr. 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 to the issue of the day. 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 whim I disagree. Vigorously!

Last week, President Trump met with at least eight other people including several Republican and one Democratic Senator, to discuss reaching a deal between Republicans and Democrats to advance legislation on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In what sounds like a classic case of Trump being Trump, the President is alleged to have used hateful and vulgar language to describe Haiti and the 54 countries on the continent of Africa.

According to Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, President Trump repeatedly referred to “shitholes” or “shithole countries.” After several reports that after allegedly making the comments, the President spent the evening calling friends and supporters to revel in the media response generated by the comments. The following day, after seeing how it was playing on Fox and Friends, he was prompted to revise his approach, and responded that he had said nothing derogatory about Haiti. No mention of African nations, for the record.

Two Republican Senators, Cotton and Perdue, initially said they had no recollection of the President making any such comments. A couple of days later, by the Sunday new shows, they both experienced miraculous memory recall, and amended their stories to insist they were confident the President said no such thing. Lest we view this and conclude this was just a partisan (Durbin-only) attack on the President, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the Republicans in the room, also confirmed that Trump made the comments. He said on Monday (unlike Cotton and Perdue) his memory has not evolved.

To add another layer to the lunacy of this entire discussion, a White House official suggested the president said “shithouse” rather than “shithole.” There is a fair amount of speculation that this parsing permits the senators (Cotton and Perdue) to deny use of one word without denying the broader context.

If you thought the banter couldn’t get any wackier, you obviously lost sight of the fact this matter includes Trump. So yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen. During the course of the interview, Democratic committee member Patrick Leahy asked Secretary Neilsen about her attendance at the aforementioned meeting. Before going any further, let’s stipulate Neilsen was under oath. In addition to the alleged “shithole/shithouse” comments, Trump also said (which has not been debated) we should instead be bringing in more people from Norway.

To that end, Senator Leahy asked Secretary Nielsen whether Norway was a predominantly white country. The question, of course, ties into the narrative that in addition to hateful and vulgar, this President employs a racist modus operandi. Her response, for lack of a better word, was stunning. She said:

“I actually do not know that, sir. But I imagine that is the case.”

Really! Are you serious? Yesterday in general was not Neilsen’s finest moment. She also took incoming from Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris about her claimed amnesia regarding Trump’s offensive remarks. Here’s the bottom line. That we were force-fed this ridiculousness throughout the course of the MLK Holiday Observance is a hugely sad commentary. Dr. King left us many deep and wise things to contemplate. At this moment he GOP, collectively, is elevating one above all others in my mind. It is this:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I suffer no illusion that Donald Trump is a friend to the cause of equality, diversity, or inclusion. Whether you label his words and actions racist (they often are) is inconsequential to me. But if you insist that you are not, but cannot find the courage to speak out when he spouts off like he did last week, you display cowardice as best, and quite possibly reveal a picture window into your own racism. I fully and completely understand the R-word is a lightening rod to which many folks instinctively default to describe as “playing the race card” when African Americans are forced to tag specific words or actions with that appellation.

In the final analysis, regardless of whether your President said “shithole,” or “shithouse,” it is but “A Distinction Without A Difference: So Not King-like!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

























NC General Assembly Back to the Drawing Board: Déjà Vu All Over Again

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, a Federal 3-Judge Panel struck down NC’s 13 Congressional districts because they found the map to be unconstitutionally partisan in their application. The Judges said the map violates the Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article 1 of the Constitution.

After determining the unconstitutionality of the district map, the panel gave North Carolina roughly 3 weeks (or until January 29th) to redraw the map and file a new plan with the court so that it will be in place before the 2018-midterm elections.

Judge James A. Wynn, of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, authored the majority opinion. In it he wrote, “Partisan gerrymandering runs contrary to numerous fundamental democratic principles and individual rights.

North Carolina’s state Senate redistricting chairman, Ralph Hise, told Reutere News that the GOP would appeal.

Meanwhile, Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NC GOP, focused his ire at Wynn, an appointee of President Obama. As he put it:

“This is a hostile takeover of the #NCGA and legislative bodies across the US. It is incredibly disappointing that activist Judge Jim Wynn is waging a personal, partisan, war on North Carolina Republicans.”

It comes as no surprise that NC Democrats view the ruling with a different lens. To wit, the state’s Democratic Party applauded the decision. Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a major victory for North Carolina and people across the state whose voices were silenced by Republicans’ unconstitutional attempts to rig the system to their partisan advantage.” In addition, he called upon the legislature to draw “fair, nonpartisan maps that give North Carolina voters a voice.”

The NC General Assembly is the bicameral legislative body in the state, consisting of a House and Senate. GOP legislators hold the majority in both houses, and have enough votes to override any vetoes by the state’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper.

Voting in the state has been split along Party lines in recent statewide elections, such as for Governor or President. However, Republicans control 10 of the state’s 13 House seats, versus 3 for Democrats. North Carolina is currently home to the 10th largest delegation in Congress.

This is the second time in 18 months that the districts have been found unconstitutional. The panel found that while the current version got rid of racial gerrymandering (the basis for while the map was found lacking in 2016), this iteration gives Republicans decided advantages for most seats. The latest lawsuit – filed by election advocacy groups and Democrats – said the replacement for the racial gerrymander contained unlawful partisan gerrymanders. The litigants argued that GOP legislators went too far when they followed criteria designed to retain the Party’s 10-3 majority.

During the debate, according to the order, House redistricting Chief, GOP Representative David Lewis attempted to justify the criteria by saying, “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew the map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” WTH?

Pursuant to questionable nature of Mr. Lewis’ reasoning, the court rendered the following response in it’s ruling:

“We find that the General Assembly drew and enacted the 2016 plan with intent to subordinate the interests of non-Republican voters and entrench Republican control of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation. Judge Wynn, who wrote that, added, the evidence shows “the plan achieved the General Assembly’s discriminatory partisan objective.”

According to Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, yesterday’s ruling is the first time a federal court blocked a Congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering. However, that is not a choice the Constitution allows, the court said, in its 191-page ruling. Li went on to say that if the NC case were upheld upon appeal, it would have far-reaching implications, noting:

“The court will have signaled that there are, in fact, limits of how far you can go with partisan gerrymandering.”

It is all but a foregone conclusion that this case will eventually wend its way to the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). In America, the nature of things political has always been arranged in a partisan order. However, since the election of President Barack Obama, the tension and intensity have been ratcheted up by the nth power. That in itself is an odd thing, given the narrative frequently spun after the November 2008 election is that we had entered something referred to as a post-racial era. Let me make this perfectly clear, we did not transform, mutate, or otherwise change to post-racial. Furthermore, it is not on the horizon. I laud “Me Too,” and the “Time’s Up” addendum that augments the movement. Both are long overdue. May the force be with them.

As for NC and our Congressional district maps, it’s a work in progress. Similar to post-racial, we are not yet there. One day, perhaps! But for now, we are here”NC General Assembly Back to the Drawing Board: Déjà Vu All Over Again!”

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.

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Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2017 Edition

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, 2011, December 31, 2014, December 30, 2015, and December 28, 1016. This is my first post of 2018, and the 549th 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 Christmas commemoration 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 exploits of New Year’s Eve.

In last week’s post, I presented a re-formatted airing of my personally crafted Christmas Concert (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2017/12/27/twelve-days-of-christmas-the-e-concert-2017-edition/) 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, omnipotent, omnipresent, 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 2018, and, prayerfully and faithfully reflect upon 2017, 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 2018 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires. Happy New Year: Here’s to Auld Lang Syne Redux – 2017 Edition!

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.

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Twelve Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2017 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, and 12/21/16)

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 the parlance of 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, in book form, in at least one movie, and in countless tales.

Here, as scheduled, is the blog. I hope you enjoy today’s 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 Donald J. Trump has brought Christmas back (wink-wink). But seriously though, in case you didn’t know, Christmas never went anywhere.  In fact, a quick check back over the Obama years reveals…Christmas was a staple in his repertoire. (http://www.msnbc.com/am-joy/watch/-merry-christmas-never-left-the-white-house-824078915806).  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’s post.

By now, many of you have already done whatever it is you do to observe and/or celebrate Christmas, and returned to the rigors of your 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, not wars, and absolutely I will make no (further) references to our big league President, Donald Trump, who apparently is focused on tweeting and golfing (despite insisting that if elected, he wouldn’t have time for the links) his way to Making America Great Again. 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 presented an e-Christmas Concert on seven 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.

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, 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, sung by several of the artists whom I most enjoy. This year, I am offering a new variation of the artistic olio I pulled together for your reading, viewing, and listening pleasure a number of years ago. Below, you will find a hot link to a YouTube video interpretation and two songs for each of the 12 Days of Christmas, 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, just like me.  She slays (or if you’re really in the Christmas spirit — sleighs) it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFMyF9fDKzE
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hInJstw1cGE
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKmvk0NJnzE
  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! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh8JZp_gnU4
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmAQzS5Zk7o
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nFWiF_E_VQ
  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?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=172MUncGhj8
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHze40h13mc
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIJROwP4BnM
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnEbRaFaqfg
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYPpyTyPf6I
  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.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xMz5oGc8s1Q

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xg6FcaYHf4
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkqjjYP53vQ
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc4g1wsIA9g
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFc7STuQF0U
  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.” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cFyRwlR5YXk
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_xB6VD7fS8
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOQWKBIuk-I
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vbpsVILCvU
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0dR1Dk7Bu0
  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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6TRlV6MOOU
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbJ95aWUc_A
  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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_8rVJ_ENaY

That’s it, 24 artists and videos and/or songs. Add it all up and you get “12 Days Of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2017!” Enjoy it throughout the Season, and by all means, remember the Reason for the Season!

Bonus: It occurred to me that a concert thematically incorporating The Twelve Days of Christmas, without including a version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is woefully incomplete. To wit, I doubled down by adding a 25th selection, “Twelve Days of Christmas,” complete with two versions, one by Natalie Cole, and an instrumental version by Kenny Burrell.



For your listening pleasure…“Twelve Days of Christmas: The e-Concert – 2017 Edition!”

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Democrats Pivot: The Reinterpretation of the Southern Strategy Is Here

It’s time to Break It Down!

In the realm of American politics, the Southern Strategy, historically, was a Republican Party stratagem designed to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans. The Civil Rights Movement and dismantling of Jim Crow laws in the 1950s and 1960s clearly exacerbated existing racial tensions in the Southern United States. Republican politicians, including presidential candidate Richard Nixon and Senator Barry Goldwater developed strategies that successfully contributed to leveraging the political realignment of many white, conservative voters in the South that had traditionally supported the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party. The strategy also contributed to pushing the Republican Party more to the right.

Those familiar with American political history will recall that African Americans had most frequently leaned Republican, as in the Party of Lincoln. In fact, even today, many conservative Republicans are fond of noting the KKK was the machination of Democrats. As a technical and factual point, that is true. However, what that deceptive factoid does not divulge is the political musical chairs that occurred as a result of the Southern Strategy.  In effect the plan led to the switching of allegiances, if not the total re-labeling of the Parties. In other words, conservative Southern whites, who in the 19th and early 20th centuries, would naturally have been Democrats, fled and/or abandoned the Democratic Party en masse to become Republicans, in large measure due to the connection of the Democratic Party to the Civil Rights Movement. To wit, those Republicans who would deceive by leaving a trail of bread crumbs implying Democratic ownership of the KKK legacy, and its racist ideology, are exercising legerdemain of the highest order when they fail to remove their GOP mask and reveal their past life Democratic hood.

The prevailing consensus that the GOP was the active vehicle for facilitating white supremacy in the South, especially during the Goldwater campaign and the presidential elections of 1968 and 1972, made it difficult for the Republican Party to win the support of black voters in the South. Years later, in 2005, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, Ken Mehlman formally apologized to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a national civil rights organization, for exploiting racial polarization to win elections and ignoring the black vote.

The phrase “Southern strategy” is often attributed to Nixon’s political strategist Kevin Phillips. Though he didn’t originate the phrase, he did made it resonate with Southern whites in general, and inside the Republican Party in particular. In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, Phillips articulated his analysis based on studies of ethnic voting:

”From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

From 1948 to 1984 the Southern states, long a stronghold for the Democrats, became key swing states, providing the popular vote margins in the 19601968 and 1976 elections. During this era, several Republican candidates expressed support for states’ rights, a reversal of the position held by southern states prior to the Civil War. A number of political analysts asserted this term was used in the 20th century as a “code word” to represent opposition to federal enforcement of civil rights for blacks and to federal intervention on their behalf; many individual southerners had opposed passage of the Voting Rights Act. The preceding paragraphs neatly summarize the essence of the Southern Strategy as originally conceived.

That was then. We now find ourselves on the cusps of yet another historical and political intersection. There is a Biblical passage that I believe addresses the current situation:

“Genesis 50:19-21 (NRSV) – (19) But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? (20) Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. (21) So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

In its original conception and configuration, the design of this strategy was intended to harm African Americans, or black folks, or, as they were deemed at the time, Negroes. Whether this is true is not up for debate. As noted above, in his official capacity, an RNC Chair formally apologized for using the Southern Strategy to exploit racial consciousness to the detriment of African Americans. Full stop!

That happened. And now, as they say at the directional signs in the mall, “You are here.” Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama, are four Southern states where recent voting patterns have re-awakened the notion of a Southern Strategy; reinterpreted, if you will, this time with a positive spin for African Americans.

In the most recent of the preceding cases, Alabama, Doug Jones executed an improbable upset win against Judge Roy Moore. In a race in which the Republican President of the United States endorsed the conservative, evangelical, racially regressive candidate, stoking sentiments similar to those leveraged in the original Southern Strategy, Democrats responding by forging a coalition that included their base supporters, millennial voters, moderate white Alabamans of both Parties, centrist white-collar white voters, college-educated suburban whites (especially women), and minorities, particularly the Democratic Party’s most loyal go-to voters, African Americans. The latter voted in numbers in excess of their proportion of the population, and at percentage higher than they did for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

As Democratic constituencies become more energized, and many suburban swing voters trend toward being uneasy with President Trump, Southern Democrats are suddenly finding a potentially viable path to assembling a coalition similar to that used in other regions of the country. This is a development Democrats in the South are hoping to leverage into competing for, and perhaps winning suburban House districts in 2018, but also possibly statewide contests, including the Governor’s race in Georgia, and the Senate seat in Tennessee.

It’s far too early to project any sort of full-fledged Democratic revival. After all, the Party has quite a ways to go in order to characterize them as having recovered. As recently as the 2016 election, Trump beat Hillary Clinton in all 11 states of the Confederacy, except Virginia. He carried Alabama by 28 percentage points, and over 590,000 votes. Counting Mr. Jones win last week, Democrats still hold only four of the region’s 22 Senate seats, and just 3 of the 11 Southern Governors’ mansions.

Indeed, one may argue that Alabama is a special case because Judge Moore’s candidacy was impaired by numerous allegations of sexual impropriety. Those circumstances notwithstanding, the Party also won Governorships in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, all since 2015. At this juncture, what is clear is that Democrats hope to turn a previous nefarious methodology on its ear and use it to plot a course to victory in future elections across the South. To that end, Democrats Pivot: The Reinterpretation of the Southern Strategy Is Here!”

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The Twitter King: Fake It ‘Til You Make It!

It’s time to Break It Down!

In the rapidly changing world fashioned by digital communications, our current President is not only the Commander-in-Chief, but also the King of the Twitterverse. As such, his regular tweet screeds often determine the course of the daily news cycle. While his regime routinely complains and “blamesplains” that his policy agenda suffers due to the Main Stream Media’s (MSM) fixation with fake news, it is paradoxically not infrequent that the fake news emanates from the Twitter King himself. Such is the case in the instance I will discuss in today’s brief post.

Courtesy of CNN Politics, I will deconstruct one of #45’s tweets from yesterday. At 6:10 A.M. yesterday, @realDonaldTrump tweeted:

“Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. “FAKE NEWS!””

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

Following @realDonaldTrump

Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!

6:10 AM – 12 Dec 2017

  • 32,701Retweets
  • 121,638Likes

This one tweet contains three seeds of deception, three elements of deflection, three statements that if made by anyone else, would be called lies. Full stop! They are:

  1. Trump says that “the Democrats” have spent “millions of dollars” and “wasted” thousands of hours in an attempt to prove he colluded with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Not even remotely true. Robert Mueller, Special Counsel; a former GOP appointed FBI Director, was appointed Special Council by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who works under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime Republican. Sessions was nominated for his AG position by Trump, of course. Democrats have certainly promoted the idea that the available evidence suggests collusion occurred. But, Democrats, as we know, do not control the Justice Department, or the House, or the Senate. Republican appointees or Republican elected officials are leading all the current investigations.

  1. Trump says no collusion with Russia has been shown

Doesn’t move the truth meter at all. #45 has consistently insisted that there is no collusion. In the wide world of conceivable possibilities, that could be true. But from the perspective of Mr. Trump’s assertion, at best, that is an unknown at this moment in time. No one – not Robert Mueller, and not the Congressional committees investigating the matter – has said anything definitive about collusion. Speaking of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he chairs, Republican NC Sen. Richard Burr said in October, “The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion.” Mr. Mueller hasn’t spoken publicly about the investigation.

  1. Trump has said he doesn’t know and has never met the women accusing him of sexual harassment

That makes it a tidy three for three. Ms. Summer Zervos, one of Trump’s accusers appeared on the fifth season of “The Apprentice.” Obviously, Mr. Trump met her. In fact he even conceded he did. He said, “I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on “The Apprentice” over the years.” Moreover, as with all things “Apprentice,” there is film of Trump firing her in the first episode of Season 5, which aired in 2006: (https://www.thedailybeast.com/watch-donald-trump-fired-his-apprentice-accuser-summer-zervos-for-interrupting-him)

In the previous year, 2005, Natasha Stoynoff went to Mar-A-Lago to do a story for People magazine on Trump’s marriage to Melania Trump on the one-year anniversary of their nuptials. She interviewed Donald and Melania. It’s fair to say, they met each other.

And, for the cherry on top, to start the week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted during her briefing on Monday that, “in terms of the specific eyewitness accounts (disputing the allegations) there have been multiple reports, and I’d be happy to provide them to you after the briefing has completed.” Here’s the rub. If Trump has never met these women, and doesn’t know them, how can there be “eyewitness accounts” that call into question the veracity of the accusations made against Trump?

That’s three, er um, shall we say, inaccuracies in one King of Twitter tweet. People who follow this kind of thing closely note this is the rule, rather than the exception for His Majesty. Several outlets, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN have reported that Trump frequently operates in the realm of the untrue. According to WaPo’s Fact Checker, #45 is making 5.5 misleading or totally false statements every day he is in office. I guess when that’s one’s M.O., it’s good to be the King…”The Twitter King: Fake it ‘Til You Make It!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

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