America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, March 23, 2018

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed on CNN a couple of days ago he said he was sorry – kind of. If you’ve ever had a disagreement with a loved one, you know there’s a huge difference between, “I’m really sorry,” and “I’m really sorry this happened.” One is a sincere apology; the other is a statement of regret. Zuckerberg’s was clearly the latter.

He also offered long explanations of how Facebook has been used by Russian operatives and bots to sow discord and disrupt our election process. He admitted knowing these things were happening as early as 2014 and 2015, long before the campaigns were in full swing, and what shocked me most was his assertion that he had dealt with them by obtaining statements from the principals certifying that they hadn’t violated Facebook’s rules. He even said that when people promise to…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, March 21, 2018

Oh no! Someone in the White House leaked another embarrassing bit of news to the media. Apparently, the presidents’ national security team “instructed” him not to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his election victory, but he did it anyway. Many in Congress reacted immediately, calling Trump’s action wrong and inappropriate. Senator John McCain (R, Arizona) was perhaps the loudest and most pointed, saying: “an American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections.” Senator Ben Cardin (D, Maryland) added his voice in dailya live interview this morning.

That’s the story on the surface, but there’s a lot more to it. The disregarded warning to the president was included in his classified daily security briefing. Chief of Staff John Kelly was furious, and an aide said that leaking such information is a fireable offense and likely illegal because of the sensitive…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, March 20, 2018

“Under siege” is one of those phrases that’s so overused it’s almost a cliché. This week it’s being used by every news outlet to describe the Trump White House. To me, it evokes memories of Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett at the Alamo. (No, I’m not old enough to actually remember it.) Isolated and badly outnumbered, the Texan defenders fought to the end, with Mexican General Santa Anna ordering no quarter in the final battle.

The defenders, who had actually taken the Alamo from the Mexicans months earlier, could have abandoned the fight when it became clear they would lose. Though we lionize the Legend of the Alamo today, it’s really a lesson in what happens when we pursue lost causes in defiance of reason. Is that what’s going on at the White House these days?

Trump seems to be under siege from every direction…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, March 14, 2018

Before I forget, happy Pi Day.

We’ve already been hearing a lot of nonsense from the so-called pundits about yesterday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. As the votes were being counted, various talking heads opined that it really didn’t matter who won – the real message was that the race never should have even been close in a district Trump won by twenty percentage points. While it’s true that the race shouldn’t have come down to absentee ballots, the notion that it doesn’t matter who won is absurd.

The closeness of the election shocked both the Republican establishment and the White House, but without a victory the message would have been hollow. Having Rick Saccone, aka Trump Lite, in the Congress instead of the very centrist Democrat Conor Lamb would have been all that really mattered a month from now. Remember the furor…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell

Every year, toy manufacturers come up with a new set of flashy playthings. They’re brightly colored and they promise hours of fun. Our kids see them in TV commercials and on store shelves, and leading up to birthdays and holidays we’re treated to a months long litany of “Daddy, can I have that?” and “Mommy, please buy that for me.”

The promises abound — so easy to assemble a five-year-old could do it; the most challenging and exciting item on the market; so durable your children will play with it for years; and everyone’s favorite – batteries included.

We’ve all experienced the reality, however. The box contains 150 parts, but a few of the critical pieces are missing. The assembly instructions were originally written in Mandarin and translated into English by an Albanian technician whose native language is Turkish, and you wind up throwing them away. When the…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, March 2, 2018

The theory goes, if you’re smarter than everyone else and a genius at tactics, timing, reading the crowd, and knowing where the escape tunnel is, you can juggle dozens of balls at once and no one but you will be able to keep track of them. And if you throw in a few red herrings, tell a bunch of outright lies, and contradict half of what you said today, tomorrow, claiming you never said whatever you contradicted in the first place, the resulting chaff will confuse any incoming missiles from your enemies (i.e., everyone else in the free world,) and the ensuing chaos and confusion will become a distraction that makes them weak and ineffective.

Human nature being what it is, even if a few on the other side, (actually sides, since part of your strategy is to make sure no one ever knows which…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, February 28, 2018

Among all the difficult jobs in the world, I’d have thought being the Marine General in charge of the U. S. Southern Command after two command combat roles in Iraq would rank pretty high. Who’d have imagined they were a piece of cake compared to managing the staff in the West Wing of the White House? When you consider that the staff contains both the president’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, the idea doesn’t seem so far fetched.

In Kelly’s former jobs the word “command” had a clear definition. People either did their jobs properly and followed the general’s rules and protocols or they were removed. Everyone working for him understood that clearly. What senior military officer would accept a critical command assignment without that virtually absolute authority?

Remember when Kelly accepted the position of Chief of the White House staff? That was…

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America the Beautiful

February 26, 2018

When Governor Jay Inslee of Washington responded to President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers in our public schools at the National Governors’ Conference, it didn’t take a mind reader or a psychologist to read the president’s body language. Governor Inslee talked about his conversations with teachers and law enforcement professionals who are in the main strongly opposed to the idea.

As Inslee spoke, two things were apparent. The president was struggling mightily to control himself, and he deserves to be acknowledged for keeping his temper in check. On the other hand, it was clear that while he was struggling to present the appearance of listening, he dismissed everything the Governor said.

It’s unfortunate that praising the president this way sounds rather lame, as the bar is so low based on his often demonstrated behavior. If he ultimately influences the Congress to pass meaningful legislation that limits the…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, February 10, 2018

Sherlock Holmes (aka, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) famously said, “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Consider the sordid case of Rob Porter’s temporary security clearance.

It’s impossible that while the FBI has been aware of the very credible allegations of spousal (and now girlfriend) abuse for more than a year, no one on the White House Staff found out until this week. It’s impossible that Chief of Staff John Kelly, given his well-known concern for order and security would not have wondered why the FBI hadn’t granted Rob Porter a security clearance in over a year. It’s also impossible that General Kelly wouldn’t have been seriously concerned about that considering Porter’s daily access to highly sensitive information.

Holmes would have approached the issue logically. Members of the White House staff were surely aware of Porter’s checkered past. John Kelly…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, February 2, 2018

The President has recently been touting the booming economy, and of course taking full credit for it. Trump points to the roaring stock market and the low unemployment rates as evidence. But is he right?

Let’s look at unemployment first. The following chart is taken directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for people over sixteen years old in percent of available full-time workers for the last ten years:


The sharp rise in unemployment in 2008 reflects the massive banking crisis that nearly toppled the world economy. The increase continued through the first few months of the Obama administration, but as the chart clearly shows, unemployment peaked at around ten percent at the end of the summer of 2009. After leveling off for six months, the unemployment rate began a steady decline that has persisted for eight years, that is, almost seven years of the…

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