This is a quick question for all of the attorneys out there. When your client asks you to draft a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to silence his mistress about their illicit affair, do you click on LegalZoom, or formsRus to get the document? Do you reach into his file, grab one of the previously filed forms and modify it as necessary? Or, do you draft a new NDA for this particular instance? In other words, is your Non-Disclosure Agreement boilerplate?
I only ask because there are some interesting clauses in the NDA between Peggy Peterson (AKA Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels) and David Dennison (AKA John Miller, AKA John Baron, AKA Donald Trump). There has been a lot of speculation that Ms. Clifford might have pictures with her when she appears next week on 60 Minutes. There is little doubt that she has tangible proof of the affair. The NDA includes “certain still images and/or text messages which were authored by or relate to DD”. In other words, our guy at 1600 may have been texting his mistress during the affair. We all know how much he likes to Tweet. Did he privately (?) send her sweet nothings in 140 characters? But there is more.
Stormy Daniels (she does appear to prefer her nom de porn) can not disclose “paternity information” and she is also barred from discussing “alleged children”. At this point, her attorney has been brushing these clauses aside and stating that they aren’t relevant to the case.
But if you look at this from a few steps back, you have more to wonder if among Attorney Cohen’s sins of possible campaign finance law, sloppiness, and threats, if he has now been caught charging a ridiculous fee per hour to generate legal boilerplate.
Picture – Step 1 – David L Cunix
You might call it frustrating. Me, I call it the opportunity to reacquaint myself with every square inch of my condo. It always starts the same way. Sally is at work and I decide that I want to look at something – in this instance a couple of items I recently brought back from Washington for my granddaughter. Over the next hour or so I looked in every closet, opened every drawer, and explored every nook and cranny. If we had a thirteen year old, I would now know where he was hiding the Playboys. I saw stuff I hadn’t seen in years. But I couldn’t find Maple’s gifts.
Sally was positive that she had put the stuff in one of two places. She was wrong, but the riddle was solved within a few minutes. One thing for sure, I’d never find her if we ever played hide and seek.
The toughest kid in the third grade spent some of his time bullying his smaller classmates. He focused mostly on the second and first graders. He was the lord of a very small world. His only fears were the adults who occasionally visited his playground and the fourth and fifth grade bullies. Such is the life of the bully. There is always someone a little bigger.
I was walking through one of our dying malls when I saw a manager berate an employee. She was demanding his counter keys because he had failed to turn-over a potential customer. The salesperson stared at his shoes, standing there in the middle of the store, a well-known chain that infests most of our malls. Properly humiliated, the salesperson was allowed to continue his day while the manager returned to her cellphone.
It has been seven years since I last wrote about the demise of retail, The Empty Suit. Brick and mortar retail has only gotten worse. The newspapers, magazines, and TV constantly bemoan the invasion of online retailers such as Amazon. We are told about the lost jobs, the empty buildings, and the value of shopping locally. We are supposed to feel guilty. I confess that I used to second guess my decisions to shop online. That day has passed.
A walk in the mall is an obstacle course of desperate employees begging for credit applications, bogus special events, and kiosks for anything from replacement windows to beauty products. Regular shoppers have a difficult time finding the same clerks on successive visits. The salesperson who helped you Tuesday may or may not still be employed Friday when you return to pick up your order. Many stores, even the best such as Nordstrom’s, no longer carry a full run of sizes and styles. In the end, ordering online provides more choices and faster delivery.
And as local retail dies, the quality of management decreases. The empty suit I described seven years ago has been replaced by an even lower species. The stores, especially the chains, view their employees as replaceable warm bodies. The managers have no respect for their underlings. Based on the quality of the managers, it is likely that the supervisors have little regard for them. And absolutely no one gives a damn about the customer.
The toughest kid in the third grade is running a retail store in your local mall.
Photo – I’m Ready For My Close Up – David L Cunix
20 Seconds! This link is to 20 seconds of film history, a great insight into human character as well as the nature of government and power. Enjoy a few moments of Casablanca.
We spend a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, every January. This year’s beach book was Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s gossipy fly on the wall reporting of the first nine months of the Trump White House. And I was shocked, SHOCKED, by how none of it was shocking.
Mr. Wolff’s book is filled with stories of entitlement, incompetence, and individuals more concerned with the creation of their own fiefdoms than with governing our country. But at no point is the reader shocked. It is all so banal. It is simply understood that this is the standard behavior of Donald Trump and everyone who comes under his gravitational pull. Donald Trump is the Typhoid Mary of immorality.
The president at the core of Fire and Fury is a shallow, vain man, the living embodiment of the Peter Principle. Surrounded by a cadre of Yes Men who spend all of their time trying to both game him and the system, the government veered from one self-inflicted disaster to the next. And yet, you aren’t really surprised. We, the American public, are forced into two camps. One group, Democrats and moderates of all stripes, express righteous indignation with each revelation to the point of exhaustion. His defenders, a core base of less than 40% of the public and the elected Republicans, have fallen into a predictable pattern:
- No he didn’t
- Well if he did, the other side does the same or worse
- Really, it’s not that big a deal.
This particular exercise, the combination of intellectual dishonesty and blatant hypocrisy, infects everyone Trump touches. The book details Trump’s fascination with bedding the wives of his friends. What is sad is that you aren’t shocked. It is just Donald. The Sean Spicer of the White House was barely recognizable to the people who knew him prior to the election. Same for Reince Priebus. The book details the destruction of the moral foundation of these men.
There are plenty of examples of Donald Trump’s impact on his supporters. I think that there is a more current and more telling gauge of his influence. Think Stormy Daniels. Were you surprised to learn that Trump had had an affair? Of course not. With a porn star? Still, just Donald being Donald. Now paying her off right before the election with who know whose money might be interesting and a campaign law violation, but we don’t expect much from Mr. Trump. The interesting part of this is how it has debased his defenders.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said the Trump gets a “Mulligan”. Jerry Falwell, Jr. defended Trump on national TV. And the Republicans in Congress were strangely silent. Credibility, integrity, moral standing – these are the first costs paid by every Trump associate and defender.
It doesn’t matter if Fire and Fury is 100% accurate. Even 75 % would be damnable. Even 50% would be disheartening. Fire and Fury was the perfect beach book. Fast paced with tons of interesting detail, the only thing it isn’t is shocking.
“The guitar is dead.” I must have been 11 or 12 and I was alone in the car with my father. The radio was playing some long forgotten song and I was appreciating the artistry of the guitar player and wishing that I, too, could play the instrument. My father was clear. “The guitar is dead”, he said. He was so sure, so clear, that I will always remember the moment. It was the moment that I realized that my father had no idea what he was talking about. Zero. It was an important moment. My father spoke in superlatives. He always knew the absolute right answer, the best way, the ONLY solution. And he was almost always wrong. It became a safe bet to go in the opposite direction. Once I realized that it was all bluff and bluster without any facts to back up his assertions, I stopped letting him play the devil’s advocate with whatever path I was planning to take. The more certain he was, the less likely he was right. There was an awful lot of sizzle, but almost no steak.
I have had this dull throb begging for my attention for over two years. Every once in a while I would think that It might be Donald Trump, first the horrific idea of him being the leader of the free world and then, worse, when he was actually elected. Fran Lebowitz is credited with first noting that “Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person”. I would add that Trump is also a weak person’s idea of a strong man, a follower’s idea of a leader. But my disdain for him and his apologists wasn’t the cause of this particular discomfort.
Yesterday Donald Trump was captured on camera. This transcript is from the Atlantic.
President Donald Trump briefly took questions from reporters at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sunday. A White House transcript shows the following exchange:
Reporter: What is your response to people who say you are a racist?
Trump: No, no, I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.
This wasn’t the first time Trump has made this ridiculous claim. It won’t be the last. But something hit me. I finally recognized it. The sizzle. The empty, patently false assertions. The importance of not believing a word of any of it. I was back in the car with my Dad. Oh, don’t get me wrong, my father (May he rest in peace) was neither a racist not an unrepentant Trumpian liar. No, it is more a combination of attitude and generational norms. Donald Trump is still applying for a position in the Rat Pack.
Three more years of the Trump presidency, but at least that dull throb has gone away…
Photo – Woodstock, No Frank, Dean, or Sammy
The news has been filled with stories about holes. I’m sure that it is just another example of presidential leadership, but, you know, I could be wrong. Regardless, we are leaving for vacation and I wanted to give you a few “hole” songs to enjoy while I’m gone.
- Fixing A Hole – The Beatles
- Fire In The Hole – Steely Dan
- Hole In My Life – Police
- Hole Hearted – Extreme
- 30 Days In The Hole – Humble Pie
- A Hole To Hide In – Foghat
- Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
- Trippin’ On A Hole in A Paper Heart – Stone Temple Pilots
- Head Like A Hole – Nine Inch Nails
And, of course:
- Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
No, I’m not going to Norway.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Merry Christmas, Dave.
America is Great Again, Michael.
You OK? You look tired.
I’m fine. Not been sleeping well. I’m OK. You? Busy?
Store has been quiet. I have plenty of time to rest while I wait for anyone to come in. Otherwise I’m fine. I may visit the kids in New Jersey next week. Too much bother and cost for them to come here.
I get that. I’ll be at my son’s next month for his birthday. 40! Pretty amazing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be 40 in today’s climate.
I’m good. No politics. No fake news. Nothing negative.
I worry about you.
No need. I’m cool.
Look, the Rabbi is almost ready to begin his sermon.
Time to sit.
America is Great Again, Dave.
Merry Christmas, Michael.
We were walking through the mall. A woman called out to Sally and Sally’s hubby. Though not technically accurate, I saw no need to issue a correction. I waved back to her and we continued moving. Over the years I’ve been introduced at speaking engagements with a short recital of my credentials and awards, but like most of us, my normal title has been Dad or Spouse as in Jennifer’s dad, or Phillip’s dad, and quite possibly soon as Maple’s Zayde. These are the best introductions.
When you are introduced as someone’s father, the emphasis isn’t on you, but the child. Years ago, when I was introduced as the president of my B’nai B’rith lodge, the emphasis was on the organization. I happened to be the leader at that particular moment, but I never lost sight of the fact that this was an honor, a responsibility, and a commitment. B’nai B’rith was far more important than either me or my title.
I was reminded of this while watching the TV news. The screen showed the latest tweet from the current US president. Donald Trump was attacking public servants, attacking them because he has no respect for public service or the people who dedicate their lives to making America safer and better. What has become clear is that Mr. Trump, neither the first president, nor G-d willing not the last, views himself as more important than the job. Here is a man who was elected to be the head of the free world, but is disappointed that the gig doesn’t come with enough swag, yet.
We have seen this play out in other countries. Attacks on a free press? Check. Scapegoating of minorities? Check. Self-enrichment, a culture of kleptocracy? Check. Denigrating the rule of law? Hell, we had a congressman today calling for a purge of the FBI! A cult of personality? Please, we’ve got a guy in Washington claiming he’s saved Christmas.
It is snowing outside and the temperature is in the teens. I want better weather if I’m going to live in a banana republic.
I hit the wall Thursday morning. I was standing in the shower, trying to will myself forward. My focus was on my first appointment, a friend who needed to lock in his 2018 coverage but had procrastinated till nearly the last minute. I had been overtired the previous night and woke up constantly convinced that I had failed to submit a time-sensitive Medicare Part D application. Exhausted, I just stood there under the water hoping I could get through the day. Then my knees buckled. Lucky for me, the previous owner of my condo had installed grab bars in the shower. I steadied myself. And with the knowledge that I had now weathered the worst part of my day, I got ready for work.
That first appointment was unnecessarily challenging. I don’t know if he had always been a Republican or if his antipathy for President Obama had moved him in that direction and the corner he now found himself in – Trump apologist. Regardless, he tried to deny that President Trump’s decision to eliminate the funding for the Cost Share Reduction was a major driver in this year’s premium increases. I was much too tired to even feign patience. My real surprise occurred when I went to my desk to get him a name he needed from my rolodex. My friend walked over to my bookshelf and flipped over my new book of Obama pictures. I saw this out of the corner of my eye, but said nothing. Perhaps he felt guilty. Perhaps he felt foolish. Either way, he went back over and put the book back as it had been. I don’t think he’ll need to be back until next December.
This year’s Open Enrollment has been very demanding. Compressing the <65 to forty-five days has strained our systems. In truth, the government’s portal, healthcare.gov has functioned remarkably well. Sure it crashes now and then, but this is its fifth year and it is much improved. Our >65 markets run smoothly. The biggest challenge often seems to be to get those impacted to focus on their needs sooner rather than later. It is a shame that we have nearly two months to work with seniors, but are forced to work with the much larger segment of our populations in a much shorter period of time.
* * * * *
In the latest effort to steal a moment of our youth, an investment company has been utilizing snippets of one of my favorite songs from 1967. In case you’ve heard the commercial and tried to place the song, here is the full version.
I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership. Some companies preach leadership, train leadership, and live leadership. Most don’t. One major company has built its success around a list of 13 principles. I’ll leave the company’s name out of this and refer to it simply as Big Guy so that we can focus on a few of the concepts.
I have read the list several times. There are a few principles that appear everywhere such as a commitment to the customer and the importance of hiring and developing the best possible candidates. Though these platitudes are commonly voiced by lesser companies, the wording is uniquely Big Guy’s. Some of the other concepts grabbed my attention.
Big Guy stresses ownership. Each employee is advised that he/she acts on behalf of the entire company, not just a particular team. “That’s not my job” is never an acceptable response.
Big Guy wants the employees to think big, takes risks, and to remember that many decisions and actions are reversible. How many businesses preach fear? Very few companies empower their employees to focus on action.
Big Guy expects all of its employees to be leaders and to challenge, respectfully, when they disagree. The employees are supposed to have convictions and to stay connected to the details.
I was aware of Big Guy and some of its business practices. Learning more about this organization gives me confidence in the future of American business.
* * * * *
The young man sighed and shook his head and then he, just as his fellow furnace repairmen had annually since I purchased my condo five years ago, said “Do you know this furnace is over 30 years old? It should be replaced”. I asked why since the furnace still worked great. He must have thought that 35, possibly his age, was a major turning point. Or, perhaps he, like last year’s guy or the ones before, are just trained to sell that way. Who knows? But after I paid him for the annual check-up I realized that I’ll never really know when the furnace is ready to die until it does. These guys don’t have any credibility. For all I know, it could be time. I’d check with another company, but I’d have no guarantee that they would be any better.
I can only hope that Big Guy eventually decides to sell and service furnaces.