Trump's shadow cabinet is more than just a bizarre scam -- it is an integral part of his ongoing coup
Even though the number of dying Trump followers increases daily, his coup rolls on.
Now, in the Trump shadow-universe he's created a shadow-government for his shadow-fans. It's not as wacky an idea as it seems and suggests Trump's solidifying his control over the GOP going toward 2022 and 2024.
Last November, on election day, I suggested on my radio program that if the Biden ticket were to lose (something we did not expect, but after 2016 who knows what can happen) they should set up a "shadow government" to be a visible and ongoing opposition and alternative to Trump's second term.
Apparently, somebody on Team Trump was listening. Or they copped the idea from the same place I did — the UK, Canada and Australia, all countries where the party out of power assembles a "shadow government" with a "shadow cabinet" that regularly informs voters of how and why they'd run the government differently were they in power.
Friday, Trump's last Chief of Staff, former Tea Party Congressman Mark Meadows, appeared on a fringe rightwing TV internet show and repeatedly referred to Trump's "Cabinet."
"We met with several of our Cabinet members tonight," Meadows said. "We actually had a follow-up ... meeting with some of our Cabinet members."
Referring to Trump as "the president," just as Trump does himself in the daily fundraising emails I receive from him, Meadows added, Trump is "a president who is fully engaged, highly focused and remaining on task."
In other words, the coup rolls on.
Voltaire's old quote, that "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities," is playing out right in front of our eyes.
People are dying for Trump, getting into fights with hospital staff as they're about to be intubated, insisting that Trump was right when he said that Democrats' reaction to the growing pandemic was just their latest "hoax."
Jim Jones, as I noted in an earlier op-ed, was a piker by today's standards: he only convinced 913 people to commit suicide. Trump has convinced millions to expose themselves to a deadly virus, and at least 400,000 who didn't need to die are now no longer with us.
Across America mini-Jim Jones' like Pastor Greg Locke are rising up to preach the gospel that vaccines and masks are the work of the devil and getting sick or dying for Trump is a sure path to heaven.
Meanwhile, the coup rolls on.
Florida, although not alone among Red states and counties in encouraging death and disease, is apparently leading the nation both in megalomaniac preachers and Covid deaths.
Ron DeSantis, who won his election by only 32,463 votes (after his party purged more than 7 percent — over one million — of Florida's voters from the rolls in the preceding 2 years) has now overseen the death of over 39,000 people in his state alone.
And now DeSantis, apparently trying to live up to his moniker of "DeathSantis," has issued an executive order forbidding Florida public schools from requiring schoolchildren to wear masks. Voltaire had nothing on this guy, and he's #2 behind Trump in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
But no matter how many they kill, the coup rolls on.
It also turns out sedition and treason are pretty profitable. Bizarre scam notwithstanding, Trump, DeSantis and the entire Trump contingent in Congress are making big bucks off saying that avoiding Covid is for pansies and that Trump actually won an election he lost by 7 million votes in 2020.
Trump is sitting on over $100 million from his grift just in the 6 months since he lost the election, and DeSantis has raised over $44 million. Marjorie Traitor Greene raked in over $3 million in the first three months of this year while she did virtually nothing in Congress (having lost all her committee assignments for lying to voters) while other "Trumpy" Republicans are rolling in the dough as well.
As they drain their followers of cash, the coup rolls on.
But no part of the Trump scam is as troubling as is its potential to ultimately end democracy in this country (and, eventually, around the world).
A recent CBS News poll found that about half of all registered Republican voters thought rigging elections for their own party was a better idea than promoting ideas that would win elections.
"Almost half of Republicans admit they're ready to ditch democracy" read the ominous headline in The Washington Post.
The rightwing billionaire oligarchs' best bet for eliminating democracy and keeping their regulations and taxes low is to make sure Trump's coup rolls on.
While "shadow" governments in the other three big English-speaking countries are all designed to simply inform voters about the differences between the parties and how the out-of-power party would govern given current circumstances, Trump's shadow Cabinet is part of his ongoing coup attempt.
He began his coup attempt the day after he lost the election, when he publicly repudiated the election results and began harassing the Department of Justice and multiple Secretaries of State and election officials to declare that Biden only won because of "fraud."
All he needed, he told them, was for the DOJ to declare official doubts about the outcome and he and his "R congressmen" would take care of the rest.
"Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen," Trump told then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Rosen and the DOJ didn't go along, so Trump simply switched strategy from coercion to an outright murder attempt on Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi as his coup rolled on.
The high point of his coup was on January 6th when he encouraged his followers to attack the Capitol to "stop the steal," and refused to mobilize the DC National Guard until long after his terrorists had left the building. (Unlike every other state, the DC National Guard can only be activated by the President because DC has no governor.)
Making sure the coup never ends but keeps rolling on is probably Trump's best chance to avoid going to jail for crimes ranging from rape to bank fraud, sedition and treason. Running for office gives him both some political and legal immunities and access to more cash, so he's going to persist and amp up the volume of his efforts.
But Trump's neofascist coup is no longer limited to himself and his fellow DC insiders.
State after state is being taken over from the ground up by Trump supporters who want to end multiracial democracy in America and turns us back into a white-supremacist ethnostate.
From Oregon to Florida and all across states in between, local school boards are being seized by anti-American supporters of the former reality TV star.
The world watches with horror and our actual president, Joe Biden, finds himself, along with Democrats in Congress, frustrated at every turn by Trump's loyalists and a few Democratic senators who are taking money from the same billionaires who fund the GOP and empower Trump.
Meanwhile, the coup rolls on.
A Secret Service document has quantified the size of the crowd that took part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The document was provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and then shared by author Jon Ward on Twitter.
I'm sure this has been reported but I don't remember seeing it before: a hard number for the size of the insurrection. A USSS doc says there were 25,000 people through mags at Trump's Jan 6 event. Page 57 says "majority of the crowd" went to the Capitol. https://t.co/maT9H8h2az
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) August 2, 2021
The document indicates that well over 12,000 people descended on the Capitol after attending former President Donald Trump's speech.
"On January 6, 2021, the third call for a demonstration in support of President Trump took place in Washington, DC," the report states. "An event was scheduled for President Trump to speak to the demonstrators on the Ellipse south of the White House."
"Approximately 25,000 participants were screened by Uniformed Division Officers," the document notes. "Additional participants positioned themselves between the ellipse and the Washington Monument. President Trump arrived to speak to the participants and during his remarks, demonstrations started taking place at the US Capitol."
According to the report, officers observed a "majority of the crowd moving from the Ellipse to the US Capitol."
When Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014, she was often described as a moderate Republican and stressed that she was happy to find common ground with Democrats. The Stefanik of the mid-2010s was conservative-leaning but not far-right, and she was chosen as co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group. But Stefanik, who was critical of Donald Trump in 2016, has since flip flopped and gone total MAGA — and the more powerful she becomes in the GOP, the worse she becomes.
Politically, Stefanik's antics have paid off. When the arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming voted in favor of Trump's impeachment following the January 6 insurrection, Trump supporters were furious with her — and every time Cheney acknowledged that President Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, she enraged House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Cheney's anti-Trump statements caused her to lose her position as House GOP Conference Chair, and she was replaced by someone who has reinvented herself as an in-your-face Trump loyalist: Stefanik.
The Stefanik of 2021 is radically different from the Stefanik of 2015 or 2016. The 37-year-old congresswoman obviously decided that becoming a full-fledged Trump supporter was the best way to advance politically, and it worked. Stefanik, as House Republican Conference Chair, is now the third highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. And she repeatedly debases herself with actions that would make the Stefanik of six or seven years ago cringe.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now holding hearings as part of her select committee on the January 6 insurrection, and Pelosi has welcomed bipartisan participation by picking Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both conservative Republicans, for the committee. Stefanik has responded by claiming, ridiculously, that Pelosi was responsible for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building because of inadequate security.
Stefanik is being inundated with criticism for a ridiculous July 30 tweet in which she wrote that the way to "protect" Medicare and Medicaid is to "reject socialist healthcare schemes" — an idiotic assertion in light of the fact that Medicare, established in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, is the closest thing the United States has to a socialized health care plan. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described "democratic socialist," has often said that because Medicare is both overwhelmingly popular and a raging success, it should be expanded to Americans of all ages rather than being limited to those who are 65 and older.
One of Sanders' allies,
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, another self-described "democratic socialist," mocked Stefanik's comments on Twitter when she posted, "Totally agree. In fact, to further protect Medicare from socialism, let's strengthen it to include dental, vision, hearing, & mental healthcare and then allow all Americans to enjoy its benefits. Trust me, Medicare for All is the #1 thing you can do to own the socialists."
AOC was obviously being sarcastic, but her tweet brought out how clueless Stefanik's comment was.
Another way in which Stefanik is debasing herself is her attacks on expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci. While the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 rages in Republican-controlled states, Stefanik and her allies would rather take cheap political shots at Fauci than try to save lives during a deadly pandemic that, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 4.2 million people worldwide.
Criticism of Stefanik's shameless MAGA antics are not only coming from the left, but also, from some on the right — including CNN's S.E. Cupp, a Never Trump conservative. In a scathing video released on July 28, Cupp attacked Stefanik's comments blaming Pelosi for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building as "a shameless and ridiculous attempt at obfuscation."
Cupp told CNN viewers, "The speaker of the House, of course, is not responsible for the security of Congress. The Capitol Police are. Stefanik knows this. She's not stupid. She is, however, disgraceful…. It's the only word that can describe her spectacular misuse of power and platform."
During her blistering commentary, Cupp noted how dramatically Stefanik has changed since 2015 and 2016 and slammed her as a total opportunist.
"Stefanik got a little taste of power, and boy, did she like it," Cupp explained. "Now, it seems, power and staying in Trump's good graces, is all that matters. As the old adage goes, power tends to corrupt — and absolute power corrupts absolutely. What a shame, what a disgrace."
Stefanik has clearly chosen power over principle, making herself a star in MAGA World while renouncing most of what she stood for when she first entered Congress.
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