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Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man

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by Vijaya Chandrasoma

Mary Trump is Donald Trump’s only niece, the daughter of Trump’s alcoholic older brother, who died of a heart attack in 1981 when he was 43 years of age. Dr. Trump has painted a convincing portrait of the president of the United States and the toxic family that has made him “a man who threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric.”

Her book, already a New York Times bestseller, has sold over a million copies on the first day of its release on July 14.

Donald Trump tried unsuccessfully to stop the publication of Dr. Trump’s book on the basis of a Non-Disclosure Agreement in the litigation of his father’s will, which he says prevents her from disclosing anything regarding the family. However, the Courts ruled that she has not violated the NDA and permitted its release.

Trump has derided the book, saying that “she’s a seldom seen niece who knows little about me, and says untruthful things about my parents, who couldn’t stand her….She’s a mess!”

However, Dr. Trump has made it very clear, by her narrative of some very interesting anecdotes, that she was very much a part of this family till the death of her grandfather in 1999. She says that Donald’s father was oftentimes aloof, and only had time for Donald, his favourite son whom he groomed to be his heir; but she and her grandmother, Mary Anne shared a deep love for each other. She confirms she’s had very little contact with her family after the disputed litigation of her grandfather’s will in 2001.

Dr. Trump gives a vivid description of the toxic influence of Donald’s father, Fred Trump, had on the entire family. Fred built up the family fortune by investing in real estate with the wealth left to him by his father, who had died during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. He concentrated initially in developing properties in Queens, New York, but later extended his activities to Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Fred “had always been vain about his appearance and bemoaned his receding hairline”, which he chose to camouflage with a wig. The “cheap drugstore dye” he used for the wig turned it to a “jarring shade of magenta”. Mary remembers Fred offering her $100 for her hair when she was a teenager. She writes “I laughed” and said “Sorry, Grandpa, I need to hang on to it.” Donald’s obsession with his own blonde hair-weave shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Fred died in 1999, aged 93, leaving a fortune of approximately $300 million, the bulk of which went to Donald. Fred Trump had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease during the last six years of his life. At his funeral, all his children gave eulogies, where the emphasis “was on my grandfather’s material success and his killer instinct …. Donald was the only one to deviate from the script. In a cringe-inducing turn, his eulogy devolved into a paean of his own greatness.” Sound familiar?

She writes very tenderly about her own father, Freddie, Fred’s oldest son, who was a more accomplished, though flawed, man than Donald. Freddie worked for the family business for a time, but got bored with real estate development, boredom his dominant father considered a weakness. He left to get his commercial pilots’ licence and worked for TWA, one of the most prestigious airlines at that time. However, alcoholism severely impacted his life. According to a New York Times article, “He got divorced, quit flying because he knew his drinking presented a danger and failed at commercial fishing in Florida.” By the late 1970s, he was living back in his parents’ house in Queens. Mary makes little reference to her mother, Linda, who was settled with a modest allowance after her divorce and was generally ostracized by the rest of the clan.

Strangely, she has at times turned Donald into a figure deserving of sympathy, being the victim of an abusive father. She says that “Fred destroyed Donald, by short-circuiting his ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotions. By limiting Donald’s access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it.”

When Donald was seven years old, his brother, Freddie, the writer’s father, then 15, dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes on Trump’s head at a family dinner. The laughter which ensued caused Trump severe humiliation, which showed even six decades later; during a toast at a party in the White House in 2017, Donald’s older sister, Maryanne, laughingly recalled this incident, which had become a part of family lore. Trump was deeply humiliated at being the brunt of the joke. He has since learned “to use humiliation as a weapon; from then on, he would use the weapon, never be at the sharp end of it.”

Which immediately brings to mind President Obama’s speech at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, when he destroyed Trump with contemptuous comments which also drew much laughter, derision and applause from the stellar audience. The humiliation caused by this speech is, we are told, the main reason Trump decided to run for the Presidency in 2016. So maybe Trump is right, maybe the mess the country is in today is really Obama’s fault.

Another time, Trump saw the author in a bikini at Mar-a-Lago, and exclaimed: “Holy shit, Mary, you’re stacked.” This tasteless remark to a niece indicates that his predilection for incest is not only confined to his sick feelings for his daughter, Ivanka, whom he has at various times groped in public, and described as having a “very hot body” and, if he weren’t married, he’d be dating her.

His own daughter. Think about that. Take your time.

Dr. Trump says that she didn’t write the book with any desire for money or revenge. She says she was reluctant to speak up during the 2016 election as she may have been dismissed as a disgruntled, estranged family member. She also thought there would be competent people in his administration who understood how government worked and would be able to curb his worst impulses. “Clearly I was wrong to make that assumption…. The events of the last three years, however, forced my hand, and I can no longer remain silent. By the time this book is published, hundreds of thousands of American lives will have been sacrificed on the altar of Donald’s hubris and willful ignorance. If he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American democracy.”

She added that the last straw of so many straws was “the horrors at the border, separating children from their parents, the torture, the kidnapping and incarceration of them in cages was unthinkable, unbearable. When an opportunity presented itself to write this book as a warning, I needed to take the leap.”

A clinical psychologist, Dr. Trump writes, “Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a battery of neuropsychological tests that he’ll never sit for.” She says that “a large minority of people still confuse his arrogance for strength, his false bravado for accomplishment and his superficial interest in them for charisma.” Sadly, “at a very deep level, his bragging and false bravado are not directed at the audience in front of him but at his audience of one: his long-dead father.”

What makes Dr. Trump’s book so credible is that she reveals, with realistic anecdotes, characteristics we have already seen for ourselves in the behaviour of this petty little man during the past three years: his plantation mentality, his narcissistic insecurity, his ignorant incompetence, his contempt for decency, ethics and the rule of law, his apathy for the welfare of everyone but himself, have all made a mockery of the greatest office in the land. He has reduced America from the greatest superpower of three short years ago to be the laughing stock of the world.

At a recent interview with liberal TV commentator Rachel Maddow, she said: “I want people to understand what a failure of leadership this is, and the reason he’s failing at it is because he’s incapable of succeeding at it. It (Leadership) would have required taking responsibility – which would, in his mind, have meant admitting a mistake, which in my family was essentially punishable by the death penalty, symbolic or otherwise. She says she has heard and deplores the racial slurs he constantly uses against African Americans, including the n….. word, his anti-Semitic and misogynistic slurs, and being a lesbian herself, his derogatory comments against the LGBTQ community.

The author opens her book with a quotation from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables:

If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.

When asked by Chris Cuomo of CNN what she meant by this quotation, she said that when Donald was growing up, his grandfather provided the darkness, with his personality and his wealth, under which Donald committed his immoral and fraudulent sins. When he became president of the United States, she hoped that the “best people” he promised to employ in his administration would help him to get out of this darkness into the light of good governance.

Unfortunately, by demanding total loyalty from everyone who worked for him and getting rid of anyone who disagreed with him, Trump has now surrounded himself with a bunch of sycophantic enablers who continue to provide the darkness under which he has openly committed the most egregious of crimes, up to and including treason. Paradoxically, he is committing these crimes right in front of our eyes, obvious to everyone except his enablers (and his storied “base”) who have chosen to remain under the cover of this darkness, to achieve their own racist, political and financial ambitions. “To this day”, she writes, “the lies, misrepresentations, and fabrications that are the sum total of who my uncle is, are perpetuated by the Republican Party and white evangelical Christians…. The lies may become true in his mind as soon as he utters them, but they are still lies. It’s just another way for him to see what he can get away with. And so far, he’s gotten away with everything.”

“The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everyone else. It’s wearing the country down…. changing us even as it leaves Donald unaltered.” The polarization of the country today is evidence of the success of Trump’s strategies of self-serving deception and distraction. “What I think we need to grapple with now is why so many people are continuing to allow it.”

On November 3, voters of America will have the choice to throw light on this darkness, to bring back democracy into a country whose national pride has been, since the drafting of the Constitution, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. National pride which has lost its way.

If voters continue to keep their eyes closed to the evil and the cruelty of this darkness in November, then Democracy would indeed have died in Darkness.

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Features

Development after the elections

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By Jehan Perera

Many years ago, former Government Agent of Jaffna, Dr Devanesan Nesiah, explained the northern sentiment when elections were taking place.  He said there was apprehension about the possible turn of events over which they had no control.  The minority status of the Tamil people would invariably mean that their future would be determined by the outcome of the power struggle in the south of the country.  I was reminded of these words of Dr Nesiah during discussions organised by the Civil Society Platform in the northern towns of Vavuniya and Jaffna on the democratic challenges arising from the forthcoming elections.

The main theme, at the present elections in the south, and most of the country, has been the need to elect a strong government and to give it a 2/3 majority to change the constitution, accordingly.  The response in Vavuniya and Jaffna, by the members of civil society, was that a strong government would not heed the wishes of the people. Like people in other parts of the country, they felt let down by the political leaders and said they did not know for whom to vote.  The issues that they highlighted as being their concerns were economic ones, such as the lack of jobs for youth and the harm to families caused by an unregulated micro credit scheme that made them vulnerable to the predatory actions of money lenders.

The civil society members, in the towns of Vavuniya and Jaffna, did not take up the issue of the 19th Amendment and the possible threat to civil society space that the speakers from the south put before them. This indicated a longer term need to have educational programmes on the importance of the rule of law and judicial independence, in particular, to ensure justice and non-discrimination.  But they also did not comment or discuss the manifesto put out by the main Tamil political party, the TNA, which addressed longstanding issues of the Tamil polity, including self-determination, federalism, the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces or the newer post-war issues of missing persons and accountability for war crimes.

EXISTENTIAL ISSUES

The absence of public debate, at the civil society meetings in the north on the political dimension at the forthcoming elections, may reflect a wariness about speaking publicly on politically controversial matters. Civil society groups throughout the country have been reporting there is more police surveillance of their work. The fear of falling into trouble and being seen as anti-government may have restrained the participants at the civil society meeting in the north from expressing their true feelings. On the other hand, there is also the reality that existential issues of jobs, loans and incomes are of immediate concern especially in the context of the Covid-induced economic downturn. The short term concerns of people are invariably with economic issues.

One of the salient features of the present elections has been the general unwillingness of even the main political parties to address any of the issues posed by the TNA.  This would be due to their apprehension of the adverse fallout from the electorate. It could also be due to their lack of ideas regarding the way forward. Apart from the 19th Amendment, another impediment to a strong government, that is identified by its proponents is the 13th Amendment. In the run up to the elections, there have been calls for the abolition of the 13th Amendment, which created the devolved system of provincial councils, along with the 19th Amendment that directly reduced the power of the presidency and increased the independence of state institutions. The provincial councils have been emasculated by denying them of both resources and decision making power and are condemned for being white elephants.

It has been noted, by the political commentator D B S Jeyaraj, that the TNA’s choice of focusing on issues of transitional justice, in dealing with war time violations of human rights, led to the TNA aligning itself with Western powers. This did not yield the anticipated benefits as the previous government failed to implement many of its commitments in regard to transitional justice. It would have been better to have focused instead on getting the provincial councils in the north and east to engage in more development-oriented work which would have met the existential needs of the people.

PROVINCIAL COUNCILS

Jeyaraj has also surmised that if the TNA had chosen the path of utilising the provincial council system for development work, it could have obtained support from India, which had been the co-architects of the provincial council system, in 1987, along with the then Sri Lankan government. India has a moral obligation to contribute to developing the north and east of the country where the war raged in full fury and led to immense destruction. India’s role in destabilising Sri Lanka and enhancing the military capacity of the Tamil armed groups, including the LTTE, is a bitter and abiding memory which the journalist Shamindra Ferdinando has written extensively about.

A creative suggestion made during the civil society discussion in Jaffna was for the provincial councils to implement what governments have promised to implement but have failed to do. An example given was that of reparations to war victims. The previous government pledged to set up a system of reparations in terms of the UNHRC resolution in 2015. But, although an Office for Reparations was established, very little was done. The question was whether the provincial councils in the north and east could not have utilised their resources for the purposes of instituting schemes of reparations as it would be clearly within the policy framework of the government.

While the issues in the TNA’s manifesto will remain perennial ones to the Tamil polity, the people are looking for political leaders who will deliver them the economic benefits in the same way as in the rest of the country. The civil society meetings in the north suggests that the northern people are not showing priority interest in political issues as they believe these are non-deliverable at the present time. Instead of using its majority status in parliament and seeking to abolish the 13th Amendment, and the provincial council system, and creating a crisis with the Tamil polity and India, the new government would do better to work through them to meet the material needs of the people. They need to also realize limits of the constitution, and focus on social, economic and political pluralism and promote values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation and compromise, and consent of the governed.

 

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Features

A blazing story!

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The local showbiz scene is ablaze with a story about the members of a particular band, who indicated that they are undergoing a tough time, abroad, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a video, showing the members pouring forth their difficulties, and earnestly requesting the authorities concerned to bring them back home, that got others to move into action…and the truth has come out.

After having looked into their situation, extensively, knowledgeable sources say that the video contained a load of lies and, according to reports coming our way, the band has now been blacklisted by the authorities for lying about their situation.

These guys have, apparently, gone on Holiday Visas and have, thereby, contravened the Visa conditions.

The story going around is that they have had problems, within the band, as well.

The authorities, in Sri Lanka, are aware of the situation, in that part of the world, but there are many others who are waiting to get back home and, they say, musicians can’t get into the priority list.

So, it’s likely to be a long wait for these guys before they can check out their hometown again!

 

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Features

Top local stars to light up ARISE SRI LANKA

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Richard de Zoysa’s brainchild, ARISE SRI LANKA, is going to create an awesome atmosphere, not only locally, but abroad, as well.

This telethon event will feature the cream of Sri Lankan talent, said Richard, who is the Chairman of Elite Promotions & Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd.

Put together as a fund-raiser for those, in the frontline, tackling the coronavirus pandemic, in Sri Lanka, ARISE SRI LANKA will bring into the spotlight a galaxy of local stars, including Noeline Honter, Damian, Mahindakumar, Rukshan, Melantha, Jacky, Ranil Amirthiah, Mariazelle, Trishelle, Corinne, Sohan, Samista, Shean, Rajitha, Umara, April, Shafie, Dr. Nilanka Anjalee Wickramasinghe, Kevin, Ishini, and Donald.

Mirage is scheduled to open this live streaming fun-raiser, and they will back the artistes, assigned to do the first half of the show.

Sohan & The X-Periments will make their appearance, after the intermission, and they, too, will be backing a set of artistes, scheduled to do the second half.

The new look Aquarius group, led by bassist Benjy Ranabahu, will also be featured, and they will perform a very special song, originally done by The Eagles, titled ‘There’s A Whole In The World.’

The lyrics are very meaningful, especially in today’s context where the coronavirus pandemic has literally created holes, in every way, and in every part of the world.

Aquarius will be seen in a new setting, doing this particular song – no stage gimmicks, etc.

The finale, I’m told, will be a song composed by Noeline, with Melantha doing the musical arrangements, and titled ‘Arise Sri Lanka.’

The programme will include songs in Sinhala, and Tamil, as well, and will be streamed to many parts of the world, via TV and social media.

Richard says that this show, scheduled for August 29th, is in appreciation of the work done by the frontliners, to keep the pandemic, under control, in Sri Lanka.

“We, in Sri Lanka, can be proud of the fact that we were able to tackle the Covid-19 situation, to a great extent,” said Richard, adding that even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged the fact that we have handled the coronavirus pandemic, in an exceptional way.

The team, helping Richard put together ARISE SRI LANKA, include Noeline Honter, Sohan Weerasinghe, Donald Pieries, from the group Mirage, Benjy Ranabahu, and the guy from The Island ‘Star Track.’

 

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