Monday, February 26, 2018

David Brody, author of "The Faith of Donald J. Trump", on C-SPAN

One of yesterday's guests on C-SPAN Washington Journal was David Brody, author of "The Faith of Donald J. Trump."  I watched most of it via this link and was once again amazed at the degree of compartmentalized thinking required for many self-identified Evangelical Christians to support this president. In nearly all cases, that support has more to do with apologetics  than actual endorsement of what he says or does, sifting otherwise straightforward content through a filter, sifting out the parts charitably called his "faith" or "beliefs" despite words or actions clearly the opposite. Even the most egregious non-Christian behavior, that multi-layered report of his affair with porn star Stormy Daniels receives a "mulligan" from one spokesman for that community.

Brody is a very smooth talker, carefully avoiding saying that the president is a good Christian while simultaneously arguing that all he does must be driven by his "faith."  That faith is derived, of course, from his early experiences as a devotee of Norman Vincent Peale, the "Power of Positive Thinking" preacher who was one of the fathers of what came to be the prosperity gospel.

As the program progressed I realized that Trump's version of faith is very much like his lifelong experience in real estate and other business ventures. Like nearly all good businessmen he minimizes risking his own assets while getting maximum leverage from borrowed assets. That, after all, is the very definition of all huge success stories. The reason any company sells stock is to exchange part of the assets of the company (brand reputation, expectation of growth, equity) to others. The name of the game is expectation of reward. The same impulse that tempts someone to buy a lottery or raffle ticket is also responsible for making private investment or buying publicly traded stock -- they expect the ROI (return on investment) to be greater than the risks involved.

Regarding faith, Christianity offers the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of forgiveness of sins. Even after a lifetime of sinful living, it is possible for even the "worst of sinners" to have all that lifetime of sin rectified by confession, which leads to absolution of all those sins. That is the ultimate teaching, a foundational bedrock, repeated endlessly by preachers all over the world.

That said, it's clear (to me at least) that belief, coupled with a firm dedication to Think and Grow Rich, allows this man to yield to any impulse, risk any asset, extending his credit to the max -- knowing that in the end all will be forgiven. In some versions of this heavenly arrangement, one can even expect that forgiveness to come post-mortem.

With all assets one must take every measure and apply due diligence to insure their protection. In the case of earthly contracts the law furnishes thick layers of protection. And like all good businessmen, this man is a past master at navigating -- with the assistance of the best legal advisors money can buy -- the byzantine complexities of the law. Sometimes it's not even necessary to use actual money. Why waste money when non-financial quid-pro-quo works just as well? That opens a wealth of possibilities including good job assignments, introductions to contacts that may lead to greater rewards, "accidental" peeks behind curtains and many more, not to mention threats, payoffs, even blackmail. In the words of Jesus Himself " ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

To that end his contracts are air tight, laced together with all the strength that good Non-Disclosure Agreements provide.

Nine Clauses to Include:

  • Definition of Confidential Information
  • Term of Confidentiality
  • Disclosure / Representatives
  • Use of Confidential Information 
  • Compelled Disclosure / Legal Obligation to Disclose 
  • Return / Destruction of Confidential Information
  • Remedies
  • Interaction with Employees
  • No Binding Agreement for Transaction
Make no mistake about it. This president is nobody's fool. He is to American politics what avian flu is to public health. At this point, just past one year of his first term, all the indications are that he will likely finish his term without any serious challenges from Congress. The Mueller investigation is in progress but even if he presents evidence of criminal activity in spades the president will get another mulligan. If both houses of Congress become majority Democrat as the result of this year's midterm elections, the damage already inflicted on the institutions of government have been deep and serious. Suggestions of bipartisan cooperation have become politically taboo. Powerful private sector influences thanks to the impact of money on politics ("money is speech" -- SCOTUS Citizens United), the many "safe seats" in the House thanks to gerrymandered districts. All these realities, together with our economy's realization of Ike's Military-industrial Complex, leave me feeling very pessimistic at this writing. 

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