Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse

New Yorker magazine last week did a piece about a Queens artist who has painted a huge mural that depicts a scowling Donald Trump astride a "Hydra-like monster" with 15 heads — one for each member of his Cabinet.

Artist Molly Crabapple calls it the Trumpbeast.

My colleague, the prolific John Nichols, labels Trump's Cabinet and the others who surround the president the "Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse." It's the title of Nichols' latest book, which is currently on sale. While the Trumpbeast makes a point about the Trump team in a painting, Nichols' new book succinctly paints in words that many-headed monster that is comprised of what he calls the "most dangerous people in America."

Nichols goes down the list of people who he insists are already doing great damage to the country while everyone's attention is focused on Trump's craziness in the White House. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are already wreaking havoc on the public school system and environmental protections. What we need to be doing, he writes, is paying a lot less attention to Trump and more attention to those Trump has empowered.

Nichols describes his book as a field guide to the "horsemen" who are riding to the Trumpocalypse.  Each of those who are on this ride merits his or her own chapter, in which Nichols describes their past actions and their true political beliefs and what they are doing  — or about to do — to U.S. government.

The 350-page book is divided into four parts.

The "Wicked Messengers" include people like presidential advisers Kellyanne Conway and Steven Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, election "expert" Kris Kobach and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who Nichols says "forgot which side he was on." This part also includes culture warriors Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, both of whom have been ousted since the book went to print, but their influence on Trump remains.

Part 2, "Generals and CEOs searching for monsters to destroy," includes little-known facts about Gen. James Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, and Nichols goes into detail about the nefarious backgrounds of people like Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Nichols labels the Trumpites in Part 3 "The Hacks." Included are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both of whom Nichols accuses of enabling Trump to capture the Republican Party. He describes Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta as the "captain of the wrecking crew" and Vice President Mike Pence as "Donald Trump's very own Milhous."

Part 4 is devoted to the "Privateers," people like DeVos and Pruitt and others like Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, whose aim is to put much of government in control of private industry.

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What you come to realize after reading this book is that nearly all of the people in key administrative positions are actually opposed to making government work. They were put there to dismantle it, whether it's health care, protecting the environment, keeping the internet neutral, safeguarding labor, regulating big banks, you name it.

You may have thought you knew who's working for this president, but you'll discover what you know is only the tip of the iceberg.

The book's available at most bookstores and is also via ebook at www.nationbooks.org.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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Dave is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.