About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

Understanding Trump’s behavior

There are many facts about Trump that most people seem eager to ignore or not consider. Let me list a few.

1)Donald Trump spent many years as a real estate developer in New York. He was fairly successful at it.
2)If you want to build a building in New York, he you have to negotiate, or “make deals,” with a variety of different people: politicians, unions, the media, rival real estate developers, contractors, construction companies, etc.
3)These are difficult negotiations and very complex. All of the involved parties — including Trump but certainly the politicians — are morally suspect in one way or another. These are all rough people.
4)These negotiations are about “making a deal.” Think about how often Trump uses the word “deal” in his public talks.
5)For a deal to get done, there will be winners and losers. The losers will be rival real estate tycoons. The winner will be Trump, if we are talking about a building being built with Trump’s name on it. But others will win. Some politicians will win because they are providing jobs to key groups. Union leaders will win for the same reason. Contractors and construction companies will win business. The media will win if they can break the story about the new deal (this is why Trump had such a good relationship with the media until he became the Republican nominee, and then suddenly, inexplicably, he became Hitler. It would seem strange if not for the fact that the same thing happened to Bush, McCain, Romney, etc).
6)Trump has spent most of his life doing this. His experiences will inform how he approaches his job as president.
7)Trump understands marketing. He puts his name on buildings. He says memorable, catchy things. He had a very popular reality show all about him. He understands modern media and entertainment better than just about anybody. He knows how to capture the attention of key groups and tell people what they want to hear. But most of all, he is an entertainer. If you have never done so, take a half-hour to watch a Trump rally. It really is quite entertaining.
8)So, let’s review: Trump will approach politics, both domestic and foreign, the same way he approached his job as a real estate developer. Trump wins if he builds something. All of his life, he won if he got a big shiny building with his name on it. How does this translate into politics? It should be obvious: Trump wins if he looks good, if he gets reelected and if the U.S. economy improves (ie, he “built” something). But note: in Trump’s world, other people win when he wins. In real estate, jobs are created and certain pressure groups win — bigly. So, the deal is not just about Trump winning — it is about most people winning (in Trump’s mind).

Dear reader, have you internalized these eight points? If not, please read them again, because U.S. politics with Trump as president will never make sense to you if you don’t internalize those eight points.

Now, let’s look at some questions about Trump’s behavior.

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Jesus doesn’t care how many likes your post gets on Facebook

Have you ever read a post like this on Facebook or other social media:

My server at the restaurant today had a bunch of tattoos. I told her how wonderful she looked and how beautiful she is. I am not like all of the other Mormons who are judgmental and intolerant about tattoos — we are all part of the human family, and we should honor and celebrate the choices of others.

OR

I saw two men holding hands today at Church. Some people in my ward were very nice to them, but I could just tell that many other people were in shock and very intolerant of them. But I made a point to go tell them that I honored their choices — even if all of the other judgmental people in the chapel did not.

I have seen literally hundreds of posts like these over the years. Can you tell what is wrong with them? Luckily, the scriptures make it clear:

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Progressives: Trump is the reason you should want a smaller federal government

I don’t have cable TV access, so I don’t usually watch MSNBC, CNN and Fox. I also don’t really watch the traditional networks. But for a variety of reasons I spent the last few days viewing some traditional cable and network TV. I also spent some time on the Facebook pages of many of my progressive friends. I wanted to see what their priorities were coming up to July 4, and I wanted to try, and I emphasize the word *try* to understand their worldview better.

It was very unsettling. There appear to be millions of people who are convinced, or at least they say they are convinced, that President Trump is the next coming of Hitler. They also seem to be convinced that the Mueller investigation will turn up evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians to get elected. They are convinced Trump is the only reason that children are being separated from their parents on the border. They are convinced that because of Trump’s Supreme Court picks women will soon not be able to get an abortion in the United States, and some of them even seem to believe that Trump wants to take away women’s access to birth control.

The purpose of this post is not to refute or mock these beliefs. The purpose is simply to point out that the people who believe the above things live in a completely different reality from me and most of my friends. I see the above list of beliefs as so far from my reality that I cannot even begin to see how I could have a discussion on these issues because we are living in different worlds. If you have seen the movie “The Matrix,” it is as if the people above are living inside the Matrix and the rest of us are not. Or, to use another example, it is as if the people above truly believe the world is flat while the rest of of know it is a sphere.

But I also recognize that my paradigm seems equally strange to these people. If you are a progressive, you probably feel like trying to dialogue with me is like talking to a flat earther (or somebody who is in the Matrix) as well.

So, if there is one thing we should be able to agree on, it is that our beliefs make it difficult to communicate.

The purpose of this post is to convince progressives of another thing we should be able to agree on: if the federal government, specifically the executive and the judicial branches, had less power, you would not have to be as worried about the Hitlerian Trump. A less powerful Trump — and a less powerful Supreme Court — means fewer threats to you and your beliefs.

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A Mormon Supreme Court justice?

After the announcement today that Justice Kennedy will retire, President Trump confirmed that his replacement would come from this list. The list includes both Thomas and Mike Lee, both prominent Utah Mormons.

As most readers know, Mike Lee is a senator from Utah. In my opinion, he is one of the best senators in the Senate, second only to Rand Paul. Based on his public statements, Mike Lee would make an excellent Supreme Court justice. From a strategic standpoint, Utah is very likely to choose another Republican for the Senate, so Trump’s naming Lee does not endanger the Republican Senate majority.

I didn’t know that much about Thomas Lee, but according to Wikipedia he is probably just as good as his brother.

In a 2016 article, Professor John McGinnis of the Northwestern University School of Law argued that Lee was similar to Scalia in being “capable of pressing the intellectual case for following the Constitution as written” because of Lee “has pioneered the application of corpus linguistics to law,” and further wrote that if elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, “Lee would create a transmission belt from the best work of originalists in the academy to the Supreme Court.”

Hannah Clayson Smith, writing in the National Review, praised Lee as a possible successor to Scalia because of Lee’s similar jurisprudential style to the late Justice, but noted that with respect to Lee’s views on judicial precedent, “Justice Lee is more like Justice Thomas than like Justice Scalia.” Smith noted that Lee (like Thomas) has repeatedly advocated for overruling precedent that he views as “contrary to the original meaning of the Utah constitution,” even if precedent takes a different approach.

These are very good times for conservative/libertarians with regard to the federal courts. Much to the surprise of many, Trump has appointed some of the most conservative/originalist/textualist judges in recent history. Will he name a Mormon Supreme Court justice? We shall soon find out.