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By Stephen Winham, guest columnist

If you’ve not read this currently best-selling of the books about President Trump and you are expecting it to be what I was expecting, I would suggest you read the Prologue, Chapter 14, and the Epilogue first.  The rest of the book provides context, to a certain extent, but consists mostly of insights into how the wealthy perceive slights, with an emphasis on the wrongs visited on the author’s father and, subsequent to his death, the rest of her immediate family.

If you are looking for surprises, you will probably be disappointed.  I did find validation for what I believed about President Trump in the segments I recommend you read first, and I found the memoir that comprises the remainder of the book well worth the read.

The book is subtitled, “How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”  Ms. Trump holds a doctorate in clinical psychology.  It is clear she leans toward nurture versus nature in her assessment of what makes her Uncle Donald the person he is.  She lays the blame squarely on his father, Fred Trump, who she says raised Donald to be The Donald.

Despite the fact the author’s father, Freddie, was the patriarch’s first-born and namesake, Fred chose Donald to be his anointed one and seems to have lived vicariously through his “success.”

[Warning:  There are many people with the same names in this book and it is sometimes hard to keep them straight – at least it was for me.]

President Trump’s father might well have remained in Germany had his father (another Fred) not been kicked out of Germany when he returned there after having left to avoid the draft.  Although he amassed a considerable fortune in the Klondike (as a restaurateur and brothel owner), he apparently did not leave Fred and his mother, Elizabeth,  truly rich when he perished from flu during the great epidemic of 1918 and Donald’s father worked in a variety of jobs before he and his mother began what became a true real estate empire.

In discussing her family history, the author focuses on how shabbily her father was treated in life and the rest of her family was treated after his death by the rest of the Trump family.  Her reported interactions with President Trump seem superficial.  According to her, Donald wanted to cut everybody out of the empire, but ultimately only she and her brother were cut off from her Grandfather’s fortune.

Fred Trump revised his will after the author’s father died, leaving her immediate family completely out.  This, as it turns out, was not quite as bad as it seems since she and every other member of her generation of the family apparently have substantial ownership in the family fortune that continues despite not getting a bequeath from the estate.  Like everything else about Trump family finances, the estimated size of that estate varies widely, as does each family member’s wealth.

The other Trump books seem boringly similar and I no longer have interest in reading them.  This one is worth reading because of the family dynamics and the things the super wealthy find to complain about while living extravagantly, but re-gifting trinkets at Christmas time.  I think her book would have been much more valuable had she spent more time on this. She does briefly talk about Donald Trump’s financial shenanigans, but we learn nothing we had not already read in the newspaper.

(Stephen Winham is the retired Director of the Louisiana Executive Budget Office, having service in that office since 1979 and as Director from 1988 to 2000.)

“The current demographic base of the Republican Party under President Trump’s control will become a minority party for a generation if we don’t broaden that tent and start including people that don’t look like you and me.”

–Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, on Fox’s Steve Hilton show, Aug. 9, 2020.

 

“Scaramucci, who just made a fool of himself as he got taken apart by Steve Hilton, only lasted 11 days in his favorite of all-time administration, before being fired for, again, making a fool of himself. Anthony is a loser who begged to come back. I said, ‘No thanks.’”

–Donald Trump tweet, 8: 45 p.m., Aug. 9, in response to Scaramucci’ comments.

 

“The Loser is you: 162,000 dead, 40 million American jobs lost on your watch. We are tired of all of the losing. We wanted you to succeed but you are an abject failure. Thankfully it will be over on 11/3. America will heal and rebuild.”

–Scaramucci, in back atcha tweet, 9:17 p.m., Aug. 9.

 

“It’s reassuring to know that between all the golfing, watching TV, making up mean-girl nicknames for political rivals, botching the response to the Covid pandemic while being the most incompetent POTUS ever, he still finds time to be petty and vindictive.”

–Actor Mark Hamill, tweet, 10:15 p.m., Aug. 9, 2020.

 

“Boy, you’ve really got your finger on the national pulse there, don’t you Chuckles? 162,000 dead, a looming depression, and all you do is offer illegal executive orders you know will be tied up in court until after the election and bitch about… The Mooch? That’s leadership.”

–Max Burbank tweet, 9:45 p.m., Aug. 9, 2020.

 

“5 million COVID cases in US as we move ever closer to 170k deaths. But sure, strafe the Mooch.”

–Tweet by Kara Swisher, Aug, 9, 2020. {Burbank and Swisher pretty much cut to the heart of what’s so terribly wrong about the Trump administration: rather than try to ignore criticism as most elected officials do (criticism, after all, pretty much comes with the job), he spends an inordinate amount of time and energy responding to each and every critic, which necessarily cuts into the time he can devote to golf.]

“It’s a Band-Aid on an open wound. (Trump) can do it, legally, but to provide real lasting relief he needs help from Congress — and if anything, he made that less likely yesterday. Most of us won’t see more money in our paychecks, and the millions of families on unemployment will still be in crisis come September.”

–Daniel Hemel, law professor at the University of Chicago, on Trump’s executive order that extends unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief

 

“Unfortunately, the president’s executive orders, described in one word, could be paltry, in three words, unworkable, weak and far too narrow.”

–Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

 

“Executive Orders can’t replace legislative actions. States can’t pay 25% of unemployment costs. It’s simply impossible.”

–New York Gov. Andrew Cuoimo, on the executive order.

 

“I think what most employers are going to do is not pass this on to their employees. They’re not going to give money to the worker because the government is at some point going to come back for it.”

–Josh Bivens, director of research at the Economic Policy Institute.

 

“[W]atch out if President Trump is reelected.”

–Schumer warning to Social Security and Medicare recipients that Trump has indicated he might make the payroll tax cuts permanent if he is reelected, a move that would adversely impact both programs.

 

“Like several other QAnon-supporting candidates, Marjorie Greene has the backing of several members of Donald Trump’s inner-circle. 

“The Southern Poverty Law Center put Marjorie Greene on their hate-watch list because of her anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric on Facebook, as well her ties to known militia groups including the Three Percenters.

“Other prominent Trump allies have also bolstered Greene’s campaign. The House Freedom Fund, a PAC associated with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, spent $44,000 backing Greene and delivered $78,000 in earmarked contributions to her campaign. Greene also received endorsements from prominent Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the House Freedom Caucus and the gun rights group Gun Owners of America.”

–OpenSecrets.org, June 8, 2020, on QAnon conspiracy and hate-mongering Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District in Tuesday’s Republican primary. [Republicans in congress have been cricket-chirping silent in disavowing Greene.]

 

“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop. President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.“

–Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, in criticizing Donald Trump’s executive orders Saturday that extend unemployment benefits, suspend payroll taxes, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief.

 

“Our Constitution doesn’t authorize the president to act as king whenever Congress doesn’t legislate.”

–Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, on Trump’s executive orders.

 

“He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security. Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.”

–Joe Biden, warning that Trump’s executive order cutting payroll taxes is “a reckless war on Social Security.” [Just as his gutting the USPS budget, the deployment of federal troops into Democratic-run cities, and his suggestion that the election be delayed were attempts to undermine the electoral process, so too is his payroll tax cut aimed at doing precisely what he has hinted at for four years: destroying Social Security and Medicare.

 

“The American people desperately need relief. Instead, the president decided to defund Social Security and Medicare.”

–Rep. Val Demings (D-Florida), on Trump’s executive order.

 

“This is all a stunt—cutting unemployment benefits and threatening Social Security and Medicare only deepen the pain people are feeling.”

–Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), on Trump’s executive order. [As I have always said about politicians of all stripes: Don’t listen to what they say: listen to what they don’t say and watch what they do. Okay, I know that’s not particularly profound, but it’s good advice nonetheless.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I just think there’s a code that leaders have to live by, especially when you’re leading the largest Christian evangelical university in the country.” 

–Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), in calling for the resignation of Jerry Falwell, Jr. as president of Liberty University after photos were posted by Falwell on Twitter showing him and a female companion with pants unzipped and bellies showing. [Not to offer any sympathy for Falwell (who has taken indefinite leave from the university), but isn’t it ironic that these are the same Republicans who unconditionally support another president who likes to grab women by their p***y? Boys and girls, can you say “double standard?” Can you say “hypocrite?”]

 

“They heard you were coming up, and they know the news is fake. They know that better than anybody.”

–Donald Trump, explaining that a crowd at his press conference at his New Jersey club was a “peaceful protest” of the media and thus exempt from wearing masks. [The nation is in the grips of a pandemic, an economic recession brought about by widespread unemployment, schools are afraid to reopen and people are being evicted from their homes. Yet, Trump must make everything about him.]

 

“[W]e have plenty of (Latino) janitors who are paid to do it for us.”

Trump white supremacist adviser Stephen Miller, speaking to his high school assembly while a student in California, on why students should not be expected to pick up after themselves. [From Jean Guerrero’s book Hate Monger, about Miller.]

 

“Anything that’s going on social media that’s negative or alike without permission, photography, that’s video or anything, there will be consequences.”

–Principal Gabe Carmona, in an announcement to students of North Paulding High School (Georgia) after suspending two students for sharing photos of a school hallway packed with maskless students. [You can fill that under “What the hell was he thinking?” The students were reinstated after only one day because of public reaction.]

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