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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, May 12, 2018

It’s finally clear what the Russians were up to during the 2016 election. Facts that have come to light in the last couple of weeks make it clear that their primary objective was sowing discord among Americans. By exacerbating hot button issues like guns, jobs, religious differences, and crime, often posting incendiary articles on both sides of an issue, they seem to have achieved their objective.

What’s remarkable is the sheer number of items published, mostly on Facebook, hundreds of thousands of posts, skillfully conceived and orchestrated throughout the election campaign. The project was so well conceived and executed we had no idea we were being fleeced. And look at the result: our confidence in social media has (perhaps justifiably) been eroded, our mid-term elections are approaching with no guarantee that we’ll be any smarter or any more hack-proof than we were two years ago…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, May 10, 2018

We know from physics that there are several ways to achieve stability in physical systems, and that principle translates well into the world of politics and human affairs. One way to achieve stability is for a system to be completely at rest, affected by no forces, internal or external. That model clearly does not apply to anything in our real world.

There are two models that do, however. One, which I’ll call Model A, is a system that is dominated by a single overwhelming force. It will remain stable as long as no other significant forces are present. The other, Model B, is a system in which many forces of different types and magnitudes are present, but they are kept in a state of near-equilibrium. Both systems can be de-stabilized if energy is not applied in just the right way to maintain them.

The analogy…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, May 6, 2018

He’s lied his entire life – it’s well documented. He’s made promises he never intended to keep and defrauded people all his life. That’s well documented, too.

He lied when he said he couldn’t release his taxes because they were under audit; the IRS said that was nonsense. He lied again when he said he’d release them when the audit was done, then changed his mind. He lied when he told average Americans that the tax bill he supported was primarily aimed at lowering their taxes and then helped pass a bill that was aimed almost entirely at increasing corporate profits. He lied when he said that would cause corporations to share their tax windfall with employees; the great majority have simply spread the profits among their stockholders.

He lied when he claimed his “travel ban” wasn’t a Muslim ban, and the courts threw it…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, May 1, 2018

One of the clichés of modern life is “be careful what you wish for.” The problem isn’t so much with our wishes as with how far we’re willing to go to realize them, and once they’ve become actualized, with the Law of Unintended Consequences. It’s human nature to want what we don’t have, to dream and fantasize about things we believe will make our lives better.

But it’s also human to be shortsighted, especially when we’re driven by our emotions and so narrowly focused on the trees we lose sight of the forest. We’re most prone to error when we’re driven by baser, more powerful emotions like fear, greed, anger, or lust. It is then that we become susceptible to the serpent’s wiles. It is then that we are most likely to accept a Faustian bargain that will be our undoing.

Our founders did it…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, April 27, 2018

We all learned about the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution in school. We’ve all heard of people “pleading the fifth” to avoid incriminating themselves in court, and we’re all very sure we know what that means. But the amendment is actually more complicated than that. In part, it reads: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury … nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. And it says quite specifically that someone in the military has no fifth amendment rights during wartime.

The word “unless” in the excerpt above threw me, but my lawyer explained that it does not imply that you can’t plead the fifth before a federal grand jury, even though that’s what it says in simple English. I asked…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, April 25, 2018

I don’t know where French President Emmanuel Macron stays when he’s in Washington but I imagine he wishes his suite included a soundproofed room. It’s easy to picture him returning from his day with President Trump, locking himself in, and screaming his throat raw. Whatever else we might say about the French president, he seemed to put up with Trump’s insufferable ego all day without batting an eye.

I forced myself to watch their joint press conference at the White House yesterday, expecting to cringe throughout, and the Donald did not disappoint. Macron spoke in quiet, eloquent accented English, polite and diplomatic in every way, but when Trump took the microphone we were treated to his classic, nearly inarticulate style. Seemingly unable to utter a complete sentence without distracting himself, virtually every thought included self-praise.

Trump took credit for a long list of things, most…

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Cindy Young-Turner

I wrote a piece for last week’s flash fiction challenge at Indies Unlimited. Here’s the original post with the photo prompt. Of course, it was about a dog.

Little Dog – Big City

Originally posted at Indies Unlimited

My mission was to scout ahead for the pre-invasion force. The commander decided to transport me down to Earth in the form of a dog. A white, fluffy dog, to be precise. They dropped me in the middle of a place called New York City with orders to avoid contact and determine how much firepower we needed to conquer the humans.

Piece of cake, as the natives would say.

Avoiding contact was easy. They were all too busy staring at their communication screens. Everyone had them, and those who didn’t would stop at stare at the ones on top of buildings or in store windows. Most of them were communicating with…

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I was at a convention the other day reading a fan written classic called the Eye of Argon. It is infamous for being poorly written. One of the scenes was so reminiscent of our present government that it had all of us were nearly rolling on the floor laughing.

America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, April 20, 2018

These days we make predictions at our peril, particularly when they have anything to do with Donald Trump. Still, as rumors begin to fly that his personal attorney, fixer, and consigliere, Michael Cohen might flip on him when he talks to Robert Mueller, the temptation is impossible to resist. Cohen has famously said he would take a bullet for his friend Donald. Even if that’s true, would he be willing to spend the rest of his life in federal prison for him? Some things are worse than a quick death.

Would Michael Cohen flip on the president? Do birds fly? Michael Cohen suffers from the same disease of arrogance and narcissism that his boss does. It might be the undoing of both of them, but it’s far more likely to unravel Cohen’s existence.

Trump’s allegedly brilliant attorney has been derisively compared to the fictional Ray…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, April 15, 2018

In the last few years, two trends in Republican politics which on one hand seem nearly contradictory, now seem to be coming together in Kentucky. It’s a union made in Hell, and if it’s allowed to succeed, the message for our nation’s future is extremely dire.

The first is the unprecedented infusion of money into local elections, most notably by the billionaires who make up the Koch network. In case it’s not clear what this is about, let me explain. In recent decades, as the middle class grew in number and financial power, racial inequalities began to ease, and immigration, primarily of Hispanics portended the end of white majority rule, warning bells went off in the councils of the wealthy. For the first time in our history, the exclusively white billionaires sensed their grip on power beginning to slip away, and with it the prospect…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, April 11, 2018

He said he didn’t want to run for Vice President and he said he didn’t want to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 2012 he’d been in the House for fourteen years, a staunch Conservative much like Jeff Flake, the heir apparent to Barry Goldwater who’d entered the chamber four years after him. Also like Jeff Flake, he was respected by the opposition and viewed as a decent, hard-working honest broker.

That made Paul Ryan a logical choice as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. He was scandal free and generally liked by the electorate, even those who disagreed with his political views. Good soldier that he is, he allowed himself to be drafted, but Ryan and Romney were overwhelmed by the Obama wave of populism from the left.

In October of 2015, John Boehner resigned as House Speaker, and Ryan immediately…

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