America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 31, 2020

Americans who were fearful of Trump’s relentless attacks on the Constitution and the Rule of Law, myself among them, have waited for three-and-a-half years for the single act that would tell us how much of a danger he poses to our democracy. With ninety-five days to go until the election, he finally did it. His attempts to incarcerate immigrants and refugees, demonize nonwhite minorities, and destroy the health care of tens of millions of low and middle wage earners were cynical political actions designed as much as anything else, to discredit his predecessor, Barack Obama. They were immoral and insensitive, but they didn’t directly threaten the integrity of our democracy.

Yesterday, Trump did what every observer knew he eventually would if he was trailing in the polls. Following the script written by his fascist idols, he tweeted the idea of postponing November’s election. It’s ironic…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 27, 2020

We all knew this would happen. Even virus deniers and conspiracy theorists, deep down at some level had to know. You can describe America’s determination to push forward with professional sports seasons as heroic, courageous, innovative, even altruistic if you imagine team owners and players are putting themselves at risk to serve some higher purpose – the morale of millions who’ve been trapped indoors with little to distract them. Or, you can view it as Donald Trump does – about money and re-opening American businesses at any cost.

As a nation, we’re like spoiled children. We want what we want and we throw tantrums if we don’t get it. Describing the experiment of going ahead with baseball in spite of COVID-19, Thomas Boswell wrote: “In this, we see Americans’ national tendency toward willful ignorance being played out on a small, crystal-clear stage…”. Is that American…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 20, 2020

You don’t hear people say it much nowadays, but there was a time, thanks to Alan Barth and Phil Graham of The Washington Post, when people referred to today’s news as the first draft of history. If you read something in one of the major dailies (The Post, NY or LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe) or you heard it from Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, or Tom Brokaw, you simply believed it. Every media outlet had an editorial board, but they usually took pains to separate news from opinion. It helped that most bylines came from respected outlets like the Associated Press, United Press, or Reuters.

Cable networks and satellite communications brought the news directly into our living rooms while it was happening. Will you ever forget Bernard Shaw hiding under a desk in Baghdad’s International Hotel when Iraqi security forces came banging on…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 15, 2020

President Trump’s decision to undermine and discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci is as disgusting as it was predictable. After a lifetime as an immoral, dishonest businessman whose mentors were criminals and sleazy lawyers like Roy Cohn, Trump is singularly unequipped to deal with someone whose stock in trade is science, facts, and integrity.

Fauci in front of a microphone with an international audience of millions desperate for truth is one of Trump’s worst nightmares. Unlike Trump, Fauci doesn’t live for praise and adulation. Secure in his legacy, he is immune to bullying, lies, and distortions.

The only way Trump can counter Fauci’s brand of truth is by appealing to his ignorant cult of believers, and recent polling shows that group shrinking steadily. Only a quarter of Americans surveyed believe Trump over the scientists and physicians who are battling not only the worst pandemic in a century…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 12, 2020

We learned two things about Secretary of Education Betsy Devos today, when she was interviewed at length by Dana Bash of CNN. One is the reason she and Ben Carson, who knows as little about public housing as Devos does about education, are the only two major Department Secretaries who have been in the president’s cabinet for his entire administration. Both are perfect sycophants, marching in lockstep to every tune he plays.

We also learned why we hardly ever see Devos interviewed on live television – that is, interviews with real questions instead of the softballs thrown by some commentators. Devos is a disaster in such situations, as ineffective as a lead-footed tennis player trying to return a serve. She had apparently memorized a script that couldn’t have been more than two or three sentences, none of which addressed the reality of Trump’s self-serving demands…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 8, 2020

Long ago and far away, as a young aerospace engineer, I was fortunate to have an older, wiser mentor. In 1966, June was incredibly hot on Long Island. Our nearly windowless building was stifling, the air so lacking in ventilation that some people slumped over their desks, unable to stay awake, and that was before the air conditioning failed. Three days later, with the outside temperature north of 95 and the A/C still nonfunctional, my mentor heard me muttering about why the company hadn’t fixed it. He led me outside into the hot smog, which was more breathable than the air in the building, and said, “You really don’t know?”

He explained that it was a game, part of the business model that allowed a modern mega-corporation to stay solvent. Back then, the U. S. Government contracted large projects like ours (the Apollo Moon missions)…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, July 5, 2020

The Fourth of July is usually a time when we allow ourselves to beat our breasts and reassert how wonderful it is to be an American. I’ve always done that, for one day, at least, ignoring problems and challenges, enjoying the sights and sounds of shooting things up into the sky and exploding them with marching bands playing patriotic music in the background.

When I was a kid in the years after World War 2, I was more struck by the similarity between the massive fireworks and the aerial bombardments that killed millions in the previous decade. Fortunately, I eventually succumbed to the American fantasy that all was well, so my own breast could swell with pride and I could enjoy the spectacle. Usually, our leaders helped feed that one-day delusion with inspirational speeches promising unity and better times to come.

Not this year. When…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, June 26, 2020

Yesterday, President Trump told Sean Hannity, his primary cheerleader on Fox News that Joe Biden will be elected president in November because, “People don’t love me enough.” There’s a lot to parse in that brief statement.  

Almost since he announced his candidacy in 2015, despite receiving more free media coverage of his campaign than all the other candidates combined, Trump has complained that he has been treated unfairly. First it was the “liberal” press, then it was nearly all the mainstream television news organizations (NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, AP, Reuters.) After he was inaugurated, when he embarked on a vendetta against everything associated with his predecessor, Barrack Obama, he attacked the courts for declaring his Executive Orders unconstitutional. Clearly, all of the above, in league with all Democrats, were engaged in a Deep State conspiracy to undermine his presidency. 

His whining culminated a couple of weeks ago when…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, June 20, 2020

Every gambler knows that if you keep betting against house odds, you’ll eventually lose. In business, Donald Trump was a high stakes gambler, but heknew hislawyers would limit the damage when he lost, and he was adept at finding others to absorb the cost.

Trump has governed the same way, staking out risky positions and daring everyone to stop him. He tried to lock up children at the border, shut down immigration, kill Obamacare, deprive the LGBT community of basic rights, and intimidate North Korea. He initiated trade wars and withdrew from treaties andalliances. That’s a hell of a list, especially sinceeachbet he placed was a loss.

Then, COVID-19 struck. Trailing Joe Biden in national polls, Trump believed a strong economy was his only path to re-election. He gambled again, denying the seriousness of the pandemic and forcing states to re-open prematurely. Health experts predict…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, June 15, 2020

The 2018 Congressional election sent a message to the Trump administration that two components of his base – well-educated independents and suburban white women – had had enough of his race-baiting and divisiveness. As 2020 approached, the nation focused on the upcoming election. Trump had already signaled that his only priority in governing was winning in November, warning that if he lost it would mean the Deep State had rigged the election.

Although he believed the economy would sustain him, he felt the need to reverse the negative blowback from the trade wars he instigated. Early in November, 2019, he initiated negotiations for a new trade deal with China that was going to be “wonderful.” But by then our intelligence sources were warning him of a dangerous new virus that appeared to be spreading uncontrollably in the Chinese city of Wuhan. They feared the disease could not…

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