Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch9&10

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Chapter 9 – Wynn-Fall: The Battle for Hilton

“It’s not easy to make your own mark on a company your father founded and built into a huge success.  Some sons opt out altogether and don’t even try to compete.  Others are content to manage what their fathers have already built.  A few sons set out to outdo their fathers at the same game, and that may be the toughest thing of all, particularly when the father’s name is Conrad Hilton.”

“Hilton might have survived everything if Barron himself had taken the licensing hearings more seriously.  Instead he virtually ignored them.”

“There are times when you have to be aggressive, but there are also times when your best strategy is to lie back.”

“Conrad Hilton used his will to disenfranchise his children and grandchildren. … Conrad believed very strongly that inherited wealth destroys moral character and motivation.  I happen to agree that it often does.

I’m not saying I would also have won, but if I went down, it would have been kicking and screaming.  I would have closed the hotel and let it rot.  That’s just my makeup.  I fight when I feel I’m getting screwed, even if it’s costly and difficult and highly risky.

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1841 – Inaugural Address of William Henry Harrison

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“President Harrison begins by describing how America’s democracy is special and then outlines problems with the government and his solutions to them. This Inaugural Address was the longest in American history; it took nearly two hours to read.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

Wow.  The addresses of the previous eight Presidents are amazing, but William Henry Harrison’s is one that I found special meaning in.  Maybe it is because he gave a speech that was inversely proportional to the length of his presidency, but he tackles many different subjects, relying heavily on ancient history (a tactic used throughout the Federalist Papers which initially presented the case for our form of government) to demonstrate the dangers of contemporary actions.  Harrison covers a range of topics from the theoretical basis of our Constitution (inalienable rights) to the dangers that threaten to tear the country asunder (rights of the minority, civility between states, unity and cohesion).  He tackles the danger of the Treasury being under the Executive Branch, the Power of the Veto, and even spends time to discuss the lack of representation in DC.

This speech is less an address than a manifesto.  It lays out a plan for office that is sweeping, that respects the Presidents before Harrison while also seeking to curtail the power of the Executive.  And yet, it all comes to naught as the man will die after less than a month in office.

I’ve pulled a good deal of quotes from the 11 pages of text, but this is a speech that is worthwhile to read in full.

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Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch7&8

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Chapter 7 – Trump Tower: The Tiffany Location

“I knew this was a tough sell, so I tried to find ways to make the deal sound more attractive.  I suggested, for example, that I would build above his store, and that he could keep it open during construction.  That’s not really feasible, but the point was that I would have done almost anything to get that piece of property.”

“I was relentless, even in the face of total lack of encouragement, because much more often than you’d think, sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure.”

It just shows you that sometimes making a deal comes down to timing.  Somebody else might have called him a few days or a few weeks before me, and the whole thing could have turned out differently.  Instead, I went to see him, and we had a very good meeting.”

“In order to put up the building I had in mind, I was going to have to assemble several other adjacent pieces – and then seek numerous zoning variances.  That’s often the situation in New York real estate, but in this case I was dealing with an exceptionally prestigious, visible site, which meant every move I made was going to be unusually difficult, and very carefully scrutinized.”

“He was skeptical that I’d get the zoning necessary to build the huge building I had in mind, but he’d also seen what I’d achieved with the Commodore.  By the time I left his office, he’d given me a commitment – subject to my delivering on my promises.  Once again, I found myself juggling provisional commitments.

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Weekly Thoughts and Some-Such

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I started this blog and experiment when I was unemployed.  Not because I was unemployed but because I had a lot of free time on my hands for reading, writing, and following politics.

Good news: I’ve got a job again.  Sitting here, drinking a glass of Angel’s Envy (which lives up to its name) to celebrate finishing my first week in the office.

Bad news: I’m falling off of schedule.  I tried to stick to a post a day during the weekdays, each day either reviewing a different inaugural address or a couple of chapters of a book I’m reading, or general thoughts on links from the weeks.  Now … I’m up early, back late, and have a social life to juggle.  So some posts might not appear or will be delayed or whatever.

More good news: My plan for this blog wasn’t to get regular readers (of which I have none), but to provide a place that keeps me honest and also gives me a forcing function to think more deeply about the words I’m reading.  That might not always come out in my posts, but the fact that I am reading the speeches twice, underlining, summarizing, transferring to digital, and writing thoughts means that I’m internalizing a lot more than if I were just reading them.

I’m on William Henry Harrison now.  Those of you who study history know that his inaugural address was inversely proportionate to his length of time in office.  It’s taking a while.  Should be up on Monday, though.

Here’s a link to Senator Rubio’s thoughts on the recent censure of Senator Warren (also linked – as a note to those who might lack context, Senator Warren attempted to read a letter by Coretta Scott King that attacked Senator Sessions, who was being considered for Attorney General.  Senate rules state that it is not allowed to personally attack another Senator for any reason on the Senate floor – off of it is fair game).  My views mirror Rubio’s: The very foundation of our country is in civil discourse.  Even when you hate the very marrow of the bones of your political opponents, forcing yourself to remain civil is more conducive to reaching an understanding than vilifying them.

Senator Warren at her being censored

Senator Rubio’s remarks on civility within the Senate

Bonus: Senator Tim Scott speaks about this as well as backlash. Skip to 13:00 for his experience as a black conservative

1837 – Inaugural Address of Martin Van Buren

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“In a humble Inaugural Address, Van Buren praises the great Presidents before him and gives a positive assessment of the first half century of American statehood. President Van Buren addresses two points of concern: the rising incidence of mob action and abolitionist agitation, which he vowed to vote down.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

Van Buren’s speech covers themes from the past and the future.  Shades of John Quincy Adams (henceforth: JQA) appear as recognition of the speaker being part of a later age who has received an inheritance he is taking care of.  Shades of John F Kennedy (who already is JFK) in a contemporary version of “ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.  Slavery, the issue that will come to a head in under 30 years, occupies a large chunk of the speech.  A note to the growing violence between abolitionists and slavers.  A call to the character and strength of presidents past.  A look to the future as he recognizes the scalability of Government to the present size and acknowledgements of the sturdiness of its structure.  A recognition of the foreign policy of the US through the first half of its existence: neutrality and isolationism.  And, finally, a question that has been debated, answered, accepted, debated, and will likely forever form the crux of disagreement within our nation: The balance of power between Federal and State governments.

Van Buren’s speech is academic.  It looks to history.  It acknowledges issues and wishes to solve them.  It does not partake in flowery or descriptive language (as JQA and others do) nor is it a shorter speech (as Jackson and several of the other early Presidents had).  It is what it is, and it attempts to address the central question which, until it is decided in a flurry of steel and blood, threatens to rip the nation asunder.

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Sen Sanders vs Sen Cruz – Debate on Obamacare (The ACA) and repealing it

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Not going to say much other than that this is a great example of a debate where both sides are focusing primarily on the issue at hand and demonstrating the differences in foundational beliefs between the two major parties.

It’s also a great video to watch just for the body language, use of the English language, and verbal barbs thrown back and forth.

Senator Cruz and Senator Sanders – Full Debate from CNN

Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch5&6

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Chapter 5 – The Move to Manhattan

“The really important thing was that by virtue of this move I became much more familiar with Manhattan.  I began to walk the streets in a way you never do if you just come in to visit or do business.  I got to know all the good properties.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  My mother is as much of a rock as my father.  She is totally devoted to my father — they recently celebrated fifty years of marriage.  That’s what I grew up with, and here’s this guy talking about stealing wives. …When I finally did get married, I married a very beautiful woman, but a woman who also happens to be a rock …”

“‘I don’t like lawyers.  I think all they do is delay deals, instead of making deals, and every answer they you is no, and they are always looking to settle instead of fight … I’m just not built that way.  I’d rather fight than fold, because as soon as you fold once, you get the reputation of being a folder.‘”

“If you want to buy something, it’s obviously in your best interest to convince the seller that what he’t got isn’t worth very much.”  

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1833 – Second Inaugural Address of Andrew Jackson

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“In a brief speech, Jackson praises his administration’s success in foreign policy and pledges to both respect state’s rights and uphold the integrity of the Union in the domestic sphere.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

The difference that four short years make.  Jackson’s first address speaks of the limitations of the Executive branch, dangers of standing armies, and other words of restraint.  However, the issue of slavery has been brewing under the surface for many years.  The Missouri Compromise of 1820 established a line of free and slave states.  Abolitionists are distributing literature and agitating for the release of slaves.  Jackson owns slaves.  Unity is in trouble.

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Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch3&4

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Chapter 3 – Growing Up

“My father’s success also made it possible for him to give to his younger brother something he’d missed himself: a college education. … Perhaps because my father never got a college degree himself, he continued to view people who had one with a respect that bordered on awe.  In most cases they didn’t deserve it.  My father could run circles around most academics and he would have done very well in college, if he’d been able to go.”

“Freddy was probably happiest during that period in his life, and yet I can remember saying to him, even though I was eight years younger, ‘Come on, Freddy, what are you doing?  You’re wasting your time.’  I regret now that I ever said that.  … Perhaps I was just too young to realize that it was irrelevant what my father or I thought about what Freddy was doing.  What mattered was that he enjoyed it.”

“You made it in my father’s business – rent-controlled and rent-stabilized buildings – by being very tough and very relentless.  To turn a profit, you had to keep your costs down, and my father was always very price-conscious.  He’d negotiate just as hard with a supplier of mops and floor wax as he would with the general contractor for the larger items on a project.  One advantage my father had was that he knew what everything cost.  No one could put anything over on him.”

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1829 – Inaugural Address of Andrew Jackson

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“President Jackson thanks the nation for its support in electing him and highlights his promises to use the public funds wisely and to stop the expansion of the military. Jackson’s campaign charged large amounts of corruption in the federal government and in his inauguration speech, Jackson again expresses his determination to remove patronage systems in Washington.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

Andrew Jackson.  Old Hickory.  Our Presidents back then really had something, didn’t they?  In the case of Andrew Jackson, it was a military hero who rode to power on a people’s revolution, promising to sweep the career politicians and hangers-on out of Washington DC.  His speech drops a lot of the length that had been picked up over the last three addresses, clocking in at about the same length as Madison’s addresses, a third the length of Monroe’s, and half that of John Q. Adams.  Military efficiency.  Drops the flowery words and gets right to the point.

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1825 – Inaugural Address of John Quincy Adams

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Link to MillerCenter.org’s transcript of speech

Millercenter.org’s summary of speech:

“President Adams gives an overview of the success of the United States in domestic and foreign relations. He then reviews the promises and the record of his predecessor and gives a general set of goals he wishes to achieve, specifically better roads.”

Thoughts on Transcript:

John Quincy Adams is the first President to have a relative who had also served as President.  He had large shoes to fill – his father was one of the people critical to the early success of the country.  This is recognized in his speech where he refers to the Constitution, government, and the United States (these three concepts are often intertwined throughout Presidential speeches) as “a precious inheritance” that has been received by a generation which has “passed away”.  (His father and Jefferson will pass away the following year on July 4, 1826.)

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Book Excerpts – The Art of the Deal, ch1&2

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Chapter 1 – Dealing: A Week in the Life

Trump goes through a typical week, complete with new deals in the pipeline, groundbreakings, and calls with highpowered contacts.

“In any case, there’s no way I could avoid depositions, even if I never brought a lawsuit myself.  Nowadays, if your name is Donald Trump, everyone in the world seems to want to sue you.”

“I always take calls from my kids, no matter what I’m doing … as they get older, being a father gets easier.  I adore them all, but I’ve never been great at playing with toy trucks and dolls.  Now, though, Donny is beginning to get interested in buildings and real estate and sports, and that’s great.”

“I tell [my secretary] to call [a senator] … I don’t know [the senator] personally, but he’s one of the few senators who fought hard against the new tax bill.  It’s probably too late, but I just want to congratulate him on having the courage of his convictions, even though it might cost him politically.”

“My people keep telling me I shouldn’t write letters like this to critics.  The way I see it, critics get to say what they want to about my work, so why shouldn’t I be able to say what I want to about theirs?”

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