America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 31, 2019

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the Christian Broadcasting Network that “God wanted Donald Trump to be president, [and] … he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.” Of all the hypocrisy, hyperbole, and outright lies this administration has perpetrated, that has to be the most outrageous.

I have no wish to offend the minority of Americans who believe our daily lives are directed by divine guidance. It’s not something I believe, but after all, our republic was founded on the basis of religious freedom, speaking of which, if Sanders is right, the Judeo-Christian God must hate Muslims.

Let’s assume for a moment that her notion that there is a supreme being who actually cares who wins our elections is correct, and take her at her word. Think about what that…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 26, 2019

Sometimes when I tutor kids, it’s clear that they never learned some of the basic skills they need in elementary school, so I have to go back to Arithmetic 101. The lesson is the same, no matter what your endeavor. Whether you’re an athlete, a politician, an engineer, or an entertainer, if you don’t put in the time, study your craft, and do your “reps,” you’re probably going to fail.

In 2015, Donald Trump said that was nonsense. He knew more about politics than the professional politicians, more about the military than our career generals, and more about dealing with other nations than our entire Diplomatic Corps. Yet, from his first day in office he demonstrated an appalling lack of knowledge about how government works, the Constitution, the Courts, diplomacy, and the responsibilities of the Congress and the free press.

He constantly behaved like a…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 21, 2019

One of my sons has held a number of sales jobs. He learned what was necessary to sell effectively, and he excelled at it. A successful salesperson needs good communication skills, a combination of eloquent command of the language, charm, and charisma. But that’s only one side of the equation. The other is personal ethics. The most successful salespeople know where their moral and ethical lines are and are careful not to cross them.

My son’s first sales job was for a home security company. He was required to convince people that whatever they were relying on for home security was inadequate, and they would only be protected if they purchased his product. Unfortunately, the company didn’t stop there. They targeted specific demographics.

If all they did was define groups who were their most likely potential customers, that would have been fine. But what they…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 15, 2019

Anyone who has ever sat through negotiation training knows that a successful resolution is one from which both sides come away thinking they’ve achieved something positive. When that happens, everyone can leave their differences behind and turn to more productive pursuits. When a negotiation ends with one party feeling coerced or beaten up, the well for future cooperation is poisoned, anger and resentment persist, and there’s little chance that whatever was finally agreed to will produce a fruitful outcome.

While no one expects the other side to completely lay their cards on the table, each side expects the other to bargain in good faith. Deliberate lies, contradictions, exaggerations, and misrepresentations are anathema to a successful result. Likewise hurling insults and disrespecting the opposition are almost guaranteed to lead to failure.

Above all, successful negotiators understand that flexibility is paramount. Each side lays out a set…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 10, 2019

In most people, intransigence is a symptom of ignorance and/or insecurity. When we’re stuck trying to defend a point of view we know little or nothing about, or we feel unable to support a position we’ve staked out, the last thing we want is to engage in a rational debate. That limits our options: we can capitulate, defer to people who are more knowledgeable, or dig our heels in.

The more self-assured we are, the more likely we are to value finding a workable solution than worrying about who is right or wrong and who gets credit for the outcome. Such people are more likely to select one of the first two options.

People who are insecure, who are motivated by ego gratification, concern for their public image, or a need for approval tend toward intransigence. And they engage in projection – characterizing anyone who…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 4, 2019

You might think from what I’ve said or written, that I’m one of those Democrats who Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) ramblingly described as hating Trump so much I would do anything to defeat him, regardless of what was good for the country. You’d be partly right. My disdain for our president is clear, but it’s precisely because I love this country more than Donald Trump does. The America he claims to love is viewed through a prism of wealth, celebrity, and entitlement. Like most of you, I see America for what it is. It’s isn’t always pretty, but I love it anyway, all of it.

My view of Donald Trump is biased. I despise him as an immoral, self-serving human being. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be objective about the things he says and does. It’s not very hard to see the truth…

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We’ll see where these predictions go.

America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 1, 2019

Two years ago, I swore off predictions, but to be honest, although I was sure Trump had little chance of winning in 2016, I always had a nagging doubt. The Clinton campaign seemed unable to see a discarded banana peel and not slip on it. A lot of us noticed that, but we thought even a campaign as badly run as hers couldn’t result in a Trump victory.

We learn from our mistakes. The problem wasn’t making predictions, it was making them while disregarding important information that was right in front of us. This year I’m confident in the wave that’s been sweeping the country. It’s definitely not a Trump wave, but that doesn’t mean the Democrats aren’t capable of turning it into one. So here are my fearless predictions for 2019, followed by honest confidence levels.

Donald Trump – The president will not be…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell,  December 24, 2018

Our Christmas present from the world of investing is that on the average, for every eight dollars we had invested at the beginning of 2018, we now have only seven. If you’ve been building a retirement account using investments keyed to the major stock indexes and your balance was $800,000 last New Years Day,  (not enough to support you for the rest of your life) it’s now $700,000.

Market indexes are never accurate measures of the state of the economy, but they’re what our president has been touting for two years. Savvy investors understand that the markets rose in 2017 on speculative hope that a nearly guaranteed tax cut law would inject a few more years of life into bull markets that were already long overdue to end.

That’s like looking at your pile of chips at the craps table knowing you’re already way ahead…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 21, 2018

Events have been so dynamic, so confusing, with everything seeming to change by the hour, I must have missed it. Apparently, the president’s cabinet and national security advisers have all been replaced by three television personalities. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter, three of the most rabid and brazen commentators on the extreme right are now directing policy for the White House.

That’s how bad things have become in the desperate struggle to keep Trump’s base happy. Yesterday, the trio’s influence on the President forced a shameful, embarrassing impasse over a border wall and funding the government. You can be sure Trump ran his Syria policy by them too, after being rebuffed by virtually his entire administration. So what if it cost him the only remaining respected member of his Cabinet? Who needs Defense Secretary Mattis when he has the unholy trinity on his…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 20, 2018

Occasionally, someone you know starts behaving erratically and unpredictably. Maybe he or she always behaved that way, but now the pendulum swings are becoming extreme. Actions appear more dramatic and frantic, and facial expressions take on a look of weary desperation. Attempts at reason or mitigation fall on deaf ears.

You recognize the signs: irrational lashing out, fits of anger and temper, blind stubbornness, actions that seem unproductive at best, destructive at worst. Friends and adversaries alike realize the situation could become dangerously out of control. Some people make comparisons to a wounded animal caught in a trap – remember those horrifying videos of creatures gnawing off their own limbs to escape? Regardless of other allegiances, they understand that they must unite to keep things contained.

When people start describing our president in those terms, we should all be concerned and ask whether Donald Trump…

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