America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 20, 2017

Did you hear that collective sigh of relief when Steve Bannon was dismissed from the White House? It felt good, and it’s a step in the right direction, but we should be careful not to pin too many hopes on it. The only thing it means for sure is that his security clearance was revoked. It better have been because not doing so immediately would be both criminal and impeachable.

We need to look closely at what his departure means, for that matter what his presence meant in the first place. Steve Bannon is a vicious, unrelenting ideologue who brought tabloid-style journalism to a right wing extremist internet website. His style is a perfect match for Trump’s. Hard-hitting, unapologetic, prone to hyperbole, and willing to invent or distort facts whenever it suits him. As with the president, appearances are always more important than truth.

It…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 18, 2017

My generation remembers the anxiety of the last months of the Nixon administration. Years of disillusionment over Vietnam, Nixon’s attempt to subvert the 1972 election process, the painful progression of Watergate, and the week by week unraveling of his political support combined to erode confidence in the future of the country. Living and working in the Washington area, I was probably more aware and over-sensitized to what was happening than most Americans. The result for many of us was the fear that our republic had been seriously wounded and the possibility that executive authority had been irrevocably undermined.

I believed that so strongly that my priority became finding a place far away from the toxicity of DC to raise my two young sons, preferably some place that would be relatively insulated from the shock waves that would follow a possible implosion of our central government…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 15, 2017

Hey Donald, since you’re such a history maven I have a few questions for you. When the Nazis terrorized England in 1940 and the RAF fought back, were they equally to blame? When Admiral Yamamoto ordered the bombing of Pearl Harbor, were all the brave young American sailors trying to defend our navy partly to blame? When a coalition of Arab nations attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and the defenders beat the crap out of them, was there blame on both sides?

I have an idea for how to resolve the Korean crisis. The next time Kim Jong Un threatens South Korea, Guam, or maybe Attu Island, why don’t you give an impromptu rant about how this whole mess was really South Korea’s fault for fighting back when the North invaded them in 1950?

Do you realize how…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 14, 2017

John Oliver often begins his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, by saying, “President Donald Trump – three words that should never appear in the same sentence.” Back in March, that seemed over the top. Today it sounds prescient.

It’s been twenty-seven months since Trump announced he was running for president. During that entire time his demeanor and behavior have been appalling and embarrassing. He has demonstrated in every tweet, every public pronouncement, every angry outburst that he is unfit to lead our country. The narcissistic billionaire has only one concern – himself. From the beginning, he has made every issue about Donald Trump.

His lie about intending to provide affordable health care for every American was never about health care. It was about how Donald Trump could do what no one else could because no one but Trump knew what needed to be done…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 13, 2017

One of the worst moments in one of the most poorly executed presidential campaigns in recent memory was Hillary’s ill-advised characterization of Donald Trump’s supporters as a Basket of Deplorables. Of course, she didn’t mean that to be taken literally to apply to everyone who supported him. Nonetheless, the offended outcry from Trump and his people reverberated for months.

In a campaign in which Trump constantly lied, contradicted himself, insulted various ethnic groups and threw around wild accusations, he was adored by his supporters for plainly speaking his mind. The talking heads on his payroll said we shouldn’t take everything he said seriously. He was a man of big ideas, not a detail person, as if respect for facts was too vulgar or arcane for someone of his stature.

Yesterday, in Charlottesville, we got a look at what Hillary was referring to, though I call…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 12, 2017

As the 2016 election campaign began to illuminate the deep divisions in our country, many of us were shocked and horrified. No one was naïve enough to think that racism and bigotry had gone the way of scourges like polio and smallpox, but the fact that it continued to exist in such numbers and with a hate index not seen in decades was a wake-up call.

Trump’s attacks on Muslim and Hispanic immigrants was designed to ignite fear, anger, and xenophobia, and it worked. Whatever Trump’s intentions were, it worked over a much broader spectrum than anyone anticipated. Like electricity arcing over a space between two exposed wires, it was an easy leap from hating Muslims and all those alleged Mexican rapists, murderers, and drug dealers to unearthing the hate groups that make up the Alt-Right White Supremacist Movement.

Most observers don’t think Trump is…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 11, 2017

If you’re like me, you’re sick of pundits interpreting events or pushing their own agendas on television. It’s useful to keep in mind that they’re all being handsomely paid to argue with each other and that regardless of their credentials, none of them have anything at stake except lining up their next gig.

During the current confrontation with North Korea we’ve been repeatedly told that Kim Jong Un is a madman who rules with an iron hand who thinks he’s still fighting the Korean War. When we see tens of thousands of people cheering Kim in lock step in the central square of Pyongyang, it’s tempting to succumb to the idea that the people of North Korea are helpless innocents caught in some pied-piper-like trance.  It looks more like a horrific sci-fi movie than reality, unless…

What if they’re not merely drugged, brainwashed drones being…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 4, 2017

I learned a lot about conservative values this week. It was enlightening. It was uplifting enough to restore my confidence in the future.

Why? I read Senator Jeff Flake’s book, which he named after Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. What I learned was that there is a sharp dividing line between the principles of conservatism and what has been masquerading as conservatism for the past two years. And to my surprise, I found myself in agreement with most of them.

Flake writes about three things in his book: his devotion to his Mormon values and beliefs, the conservative ideology he subscribes to, and the basic philosophy that governs his life. About the first, I’m ambivalent – I respect his beliefs, though they’re surely not mine, but like him, I respect and am willing to defend his right to follow them.

About the second, I…

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America the Beautiful

A. L. Kaplan, August 1, 2017

A. L. Kaplan’s love of books started as a child and sparked a creative imagination. Born on a cold winter morning in scenic northern New Jersey, her stories and poems have been included in several anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, Star-touched, is due out October 1, 2017. She has served on the Maryland Writers’ Association’s Howard County Chapter board for several years and holds an MFA in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art. When not writing or indulging in her fascination with wolves, A. L. is the props manager for a local theater. This proud mother of two lives in Maryland with her husband and dog.

Army   Marines   AirForceMarines   CoastGuard

On June 14, 2016 candidate Trump tweeted a message to the LGBT community: “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your…

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America the Beautiful

Susan Collins was first elected to the Senate in 1996. She’s halfway through her fourth term, and if she chooses to run for a fifth, it will be during the 2020 presidential campaign, so she’s relatively immune to pressure from the White House and blackmail from groups like the Koch brothers. But in her case, I don’t think that matters. She would continue to be true to what she believes no matter who threatened her. She would place the interests and needs of her constituents above the needs of the far right. She will, as she always has done, defend poorer Americans who would have no health care if not for Medicaid and women who depend on organizations like Planned Parenthood.

It’s clear that she is appalled by our president, his behavior, his character, his unprincipled and unscrupulous way of dealing with people he disagrees with. But listen to her…

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