We’re Better Than This #Resist #TenderAge

by Shelton Bumgarner

As I write this, it’s the morning after we learned that the United States government is holding extremely young immigrant children in “tender age” facilities. I spend some time last night talking to my evangelical sister, trying to convince her that while, yes, the nation’s immigration policy is in dire need of fixing, we needed to fix the specific policy problem causing such children to be put in harms way.

Alas, she didn’t really get around to agreeing with me the way I hoped she would.

So while I have liberal fever dreams that this, at last, would be the thing to leave a significant welt on Trump’s administration, if I can’t get someone like my sister to have enough empathy and compassion for these children to focus on repealing the specific policy that got us into the situation in the first place, that’s just not going to happen.

The United States is just too divided at this point. The economy is doing too well and “securing borders” is too important to Trump’s base for that to happen. Whatever solution there happens to come about on this issue won’t happen any time soon. It could be a week or more before Congress finally gets its head out of its ass long enough to come to some sort of fix that Trump could very well then promptly veto because it doesn’t give him is damn wall.

So we’re likely to have a pitched political battle for the foreseeable future and either Trump manages to distract us with an even larger outrage or he doesn’t. Either he makes yet another cold, hard political calculation and buckles down for a long hard fight or when he does that calculation he decides to give in and blame the Democrats for whatever reason he can pull out of his ass.

Therefore, while I still believe we’re better than this, there probably won’t be any cut-and-dried solution to this problem. Trump will survive, if not prosper after a few bumps and we’ll move on to the next shitstorm. I wish I was wrong, but, alas, it does not appear that I am.

But if you do want to get a more clear-cut result, you’re going to have to raise some hell. Raise hell in a way that gets people’s attention. It may be our only hope.

Trump’s ‘Prosecution Initiative’ Crisis Update For June 19th, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

For no other reason than to simply establish where thing are in my own mind, here is an overview of where things stand in this entirely self-concocted immigrant family separation policy crisis on the part of Donald J. Trump. I hope this gets wrapped up pretty quick and I don’t have to a lot of these, but as of right now, things aren’t looking good.

A little background. This crisis began when, at the behest of tin-pot Hitler Stephen Miller, Trump through Attorney General Jeff Sessions enacted a “zero tolerance” policy when it came to people coming across the American Southwest border illegally. Remember, this is a “policy” not a law and Trump, if he had an ounce of human decency, could fix this problem quite quickly. The memo that established this policy is below.

This set off a chain of events that we are now dealing with. As a result of this zero tolerance policy, hundreds, if not thousands of children have been ripped from their families, some of them, allegedly, out of their mother’s arms after having been told they would be given a bath.

Anyway, the news has been coming hard and fast today when it comes to this story. The president tweeted this morning that immigrants were going to “infest” the nation.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of news whipping the nation’s attention this way and that. It was difficult to grasp what was gong on at times the news popped up so quickly. Some 600 members of the United Methodist Church condemned member Jeff Sessons’ involvement in this clusterfuck. This joined a whole host of religious leaders and groups who echoed a similar sentiment over the course of the last few days.

Things continued to get crazier and crazier as celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti of all people has jumped into the fray, representing about 20 immigrants who have been torn from their families.

It was was one of those news days that didn’t seem like it was going to end, with news breaking left and right during the course of it. A growing chorus of politicians jumped into the mess all demanding one thing — either a law be passed that fixed this issue, or that Trump would show some compassion and fix the damn thing himself. Ted Cruz came up with some bait and switch legislation that purports to fix the problem at hand, but in reality actually makes matters worse. A group of 12 Republican Senators sent a letter to their former colleague Sessions to put a pause on the “prosecution initiative” policy until Congress could pull its head out of its ass long enough to fix the problem. The letter is below.

There was, in general, a flurry of pretty meaningless jabber by an array of Congressmen and Senators angling to appease an angry electorate. But the simple fact remains that this “prosecution imitative” continues to be in place and there doesn’t seem to be any fix for it in the near future. Trump refuses to accept what he’s done is wrong and Congress is so divided and slow moving that it could be a week or more before anything finally gets done about it.

So, we wait. I hope this gets wrapped up in the next day or so, but it’s not looking good. God only knows how bad things are going to get if Trump sticks to his guns.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer livings in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Power To The People: The Case For Radicalization To Defeat Stephen Miller’s Nazi Agenda

by Shelton Bumgarner

Given that it seems Trump has chosen the issue of immigration as his political hill to die on — at least until he can come up with a bigger distraction — it may be time for The Resistance to advocate a lurch towards radicalization. What I mean by that is on an ideological level, The Resistance’s goals have been rather nebulous and it’s leadership lacking vision.

Maybe it’s time to change that.

The thing this draconian policy enacted by Jeff Sessions proves is Trump a modern day Emperor and his actions lay bare the rot at the center of the American Constitution. Growing numbers of people from a wide spectrum of political thought are protesting the obscene policy of ripping children away from their families, and, yet, Trump — who could with the wave of his hand could end it — is, instead, holding his ground.

It takes time for protests to be organized, I know, but this could be the final tipping point needed to get people in the streets in a big way. To get rid of Trump in any meaningful way, we would need regular, massive protests in cities across the country. The only way I can think of to facilitate that would some sort of app. An app that got like-minded people together and facilitated in a meaningful way organization that would lead to regular massive protests.

Now, of course, you could say you could easily do that using Twitter and Facebook. It’s been done before in other countries. But if you designed an app that from the moment you logged on directed you to other liked-minded people and help you use whatever skillset you might have for the cause, I think it would be effective. You could even throw in advertising and the Patron payment function into the app if need be.

Take me, for instance. I’m kind of broke right now, but I’m willing to protests immediately if given the opportunity. Using the app I suggest being invented, the moment I logged on, I would be able to find not only local protest organizers contact information, but ride-share information. The app might, as a value added function, give people easy directions as to how to register to vote.

It is apparent that at this point only a massive show of People Power is going to end this nightmare. If Trump wants a fight, maybe we should give it to him.

I Need Hope To Be Angry At This Point #KeepFamiliesTogether

by Shelton Bumgarner

I need hope. It appears, at least right this second, that Trump and his fascist cronies have decided to wage a pitched battle on the issue of immigrant children being torn from their families on the American border. The system is such a rotting clusterfuck at this point that they feel their can stir up the base and ride that sentiment to electoral victory in the fall.

Now, we are fast approaching a tipping point in all of this where the battle lines will be clearly drawn and there’s no going back. We may, in fact, have already reached that moment. That the Trump Administration believes that they can leverage all of this to their advantage kind of drains me of any hope.

In a sense, you have to have hope to be angry and right now I have no hope. It definitely appears as though they’re going to win this one. That after a week or so of fury, they’ll concoct the latest outrage and we’ll move on to the next thing. By the time November rolls around, 30,000 children will be living on in tent cities across the country and we just won’t care.

If something happens to give me hope, I’ll go back to being furious about this. I guess what really has drained me the most of my hope and therefore anger is the reaction of the MAGA people I know on Facebook. They listen to the same ProPublica audio that I did where children are screaming for their parents and instead of being as reviled as I am, they simply shrug and say we need to “secure our borders.”

So I have no hope. I can’t be angry without hope. I need something dramatic to happen pretty quick to make this seem different than any of the other clusterfucks the Trump Administration has managed to cause only to survive. I just don’t understand how other human beings can honestly listen to children screaming for their parents and be completely devoid of common human compassion.

Scream About Trump’s Fourth Reich’s ‘Prosecution Initiative’ At The Top Of Your Lungs

by Shelton Bumgarner

We live in surreal, obscene times when the U.S. government feels obliged to treat the children of asylum seekers as more than animals under a policy known as the “Prosecution Initiative.” I do not feel that the name of this policy is well known enough. It’s all we should be talking about on social media.

The “Prosecution Initiative” should become something so loaded in the nation’s collective conscience that it’s mention nearly brings a conversation to a standstill. We need to use it as a rhetorical bludgeon at every opportunity. To my ears, it sounds so ominous to begin with that it wouldn’t take too much effort to attain that goal.

We’re in a crisis and we need to use everything we can find to end this policy as quickly as possible. If we repeat the term “Prosecution Initiative” over and over and over again at every turn, that would help make it clear that this is not a law, but rather a policy, or an initiative.

This is a marathon now, not a sprint, so this is part of a pitched political battle that will take significantly longer than it otherwise should. The Trump Administration is trying to defend the indefensible. We have to remind them of this at every opportunity and putting a stigma on the term “Prosecution Initiative” would further that goal.

Uncle Shelton’s Tales: Little Fingers & The Tears Of Heaven #KeepFamiliesTogether

This is another attempt to explain to a child what’s going on with the children being torn away from their families on American border. I don’t know how well I did, but it’s nice to vent in a somewhat wholesome manner.

Uncle Shelton’s Tales
Little Fingers & The Tears Of Heaven

By Shelton Bumgarner

Midnight the cat hopped on Uncle Shelton’s lap one day and began to purr. She said she had heard a new world on TV and wanted to know what it meant. “What does ‘evil’ mean?” she said. Uncle Shelton sighed deeply and patted Midnight on the head softly.

Uncle Shelton sighed and said, “Let me tell you a story…”

Once a upon a time, there lived an evil orange troll named Little Fingers. Through a trick that he pulled with help of the bear, Little Fingers had been elected lord of the forest. He used his magic powers to tell the birds to tweet his commands down to the forest creatures and otherwise did nothing but sit under his bridge and count his gold.

But one day Little Fingers learned that large numbers of rabbits from another forest were making their way to his forest because of evil problems in their forest. The wicked orange troll was unhappy with this and decreed that any rabbit family who came to his forest demanding a safer life would be torn apart.

“I want to make sure the bunnies know who’s in charge,” Little Fingers said. “I have absolute power over this land and nothing will change that.”

Because the forest Little Fingers ruled was so divided and scared, it looked as though his cruel decree would never be changed. But it began to rain suddenly. It began to rain and rain and rain until it seemed as though the earth could hold no more water. The owls, who were very wise, came to Little Fingers and told him something had to change.

“The heavens are crying because of your rabbit policy,” an owl told Little Fingers. “If you don’t change the policy soon, we’re all going to drown!”

Little Fingers at first refused. He was a cruel, evil orange troll and would not brook any opposition, even from the heavens itself. But the forest creatures eventually grew tired of the rain and of the injustice and will the help of the powerful honey badger stormed the troll’s bridge and forced him to change his policy.

And to this day the forest is a at peace and the eagles again soar over its skies.

The End.

In Trump’s Fourth Reich, Silence Now Equals Collaboration #KeepFamiliesTogether

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now that the pot is boiling, now that we’re confronted with the decision of if we are willing to tolerate immigrant children being torn from their families, we have to face the cold hard fact that silence on MAGA no longer equals complicit approval, it equal active collaboration.

I say this only because as few notable people who have otherwise been complacent about MAGA abuses have begun to speak up about this latest outrage, that core 44% of the electorate continues to adore Trump often times is just silent when confronted. They simply refuse to answer any question, express any opinion.

To me, that goes beyond being simply complicit, that’s collaboration. You are actively doing something — you are actively saying that you refuse to go on the record with any opinion. Your desire to follow Trump with a cult-like fervor is equal to your unwillingness to agree that on this specific issue, at least, Trump is wrong. You are actively — through your silence — giving aid and comfort to a monster.

If that doesn’t make YOU a monster, I don’t what does. To say you “don’t really follow politics anymore” and then turn around and blindly vote for MAGA politicians is an answer if ever there was one. If you had a soul, if you had a conscience you wouldn’t see children torn away from their families as some sort of weird political pawn to get your damn wall. You’d see them for what they are: scared children.

Given how fickle Trump is, he could very well read the tea leaves and tweet out a change in policy today or this week. Or he could see that as a no win for him relative to his base. He might see this as a perfect opportunity to stand his ground and hope for this all to blow over. In real terms, he has until November to make a decision. As long as he changes the decision by, say, mid-October the political costs of changing a policy so popular with the base are simply too high.

Therefore, it’s very possible we’re in for a pitched battle. One one side, there will be Trump and MAGA using the Big Lie while throwing out any number of other distractions and on the other side, you have everyone else who either get mad and stay mad or finally capitulate.

All I can suggest is if someone you know and love who is a known Trump/MAGA person, when they give you silence, keep at it. Don’t accept their silence this time. Press them on what their opinion is. Get them on the record one way or another. This could very well be pretty painful for all involved.

But the greater good is involved here. If enough people make Trump/MAGA people have to not only defend their position but think carefully about why they believe what believe. I’m not saying it will make that much of a different to you personally, but on a macro level there’s a chance we might whittle down that 44% of the electorate a little bit.

This is serious. This is really serious. We need to start acting like it.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. You may reach him at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Release The Kraken Of Popular Outrage. We’ll Need It #KeepFamiliesTogether

by Shelton Bumgarner

Very rarely is the Kraken of American civil outrage unleased. In general, it just doesn’t happen. Americans temperament is pretty even-keel and we generally are too busy raising our kids, drinking beer and watching sports to care about politics. In fact, in real terms even Vietnam wasn’t the Kraken as I imagine it. The anti-war movement was extremely divisive and was pretty much done by young men who objected to what they felt was an unnecessary and unjust war in Southeast Asia.

In fact, I would go so far as to say in modern American political history the actual Kraken has been more felt in the abstract that seen. So, what I’m saying, I guess, is we need the Kraken to pop up. We need something like what happened in South Korea where there was something akin to a “People’s Impeachment” of the president.

So, when it comes to the forced, obscene separation of immigrate children at the border seeking asylum, it’s not hyperbole to say if the United States wants to continue as it has for the last few hundred years, something extraordinary in the face of this dire situation has to happen immediately.

I say this because if you combine 44% of the population having a first reaction to all of this of evoking Romans 13 or blaming the victim with the complete Vichy nature of Congressional Republicans, you have a serious fucking problem on your hands. In effect, Trump is now a dictator by default.

If we can’t get people on the streets now, if we can’t get people calling their Senator and Representative today and every day until this cruel policy is revoked, then we lurch towards a dark and unknown future. I don’t feel I’m over reacting. There’s a real chance that Trump will batten down the hatches and go in for a pitched battle on this one. And he might very well win.

I don’t know what to tell you folks. If we can’t awaken the Kraken on this one, what’s the point of having it available at all?

The Pot Is Boiling. Now What. #KeepFamiliesTogether

by Shelton Bumgarner

The long predicted moment of truth is now at hand. We’ve been outraged over this or that Trump policy over the last year or so, but this is it. If we can’t get Trump to end the brutal, obscene policy of tearing children from their families at the border, then all is lost.

The scary thing is, I honestly don’t know what the endgame of this one is. Even if we manage to stop this policy, it could be the Trump Administration testing the weaknesses of the existing American system of government. If it’s not this, it’ll be something else. But this is a pretty intense crisis. You can give us any number of different options about how to address this specific crisis, but something has to be done.

We are with a potentially dark and unknown endgame because MAGA people’s first reaction to explaining what’s going on is now a sense of compassion or even outrage. It’s the usual bullshit rhetorical shadowboxing at best and at worst complete silence. We’re fast approaching the moment when silence is your answer. If you’re so much of a proverbial Good German that when forced to make a simple ethical decision about the fate of children, for Christ’s sake, your first reaction is to defend Trump not show concern, then the United States as I’ve known it my entire life is in grave danger indeed.

In other words, the pot is now boiling. Traditional freedom-loving Americans are the frog and it’s boiling. Either we finally notice the heat surrounding us and jump out, or we don’t and we are done for. I wish I could give you some quick and easy fix on this matter, but given that this is a policy not a law, one that could easily be ended by Trump, there’s a real chance the bad guys will win this one and we’ll lurch towards an American “Fourth Reich” if you will.

Trumplandia is what I’ve been calling it, but Fourth Reich is a more accurate description of what’s going on. If Trump ignores — or worse attacks her on Twitter — Laura Bush after her admonishment in the Washington Post, there’s a good chance that given how fucked up the system is right now that this is the moment when the United States formally slips into a new era. If we can’t get Trump to finally, finally have some sense of shame on this matter and the entire system simply waits for us to grow tired of this outrage, then I don’t know what to say.

The next few days will be telling. If Trump hunkers down for a pitched battle on this issue out of personal pique then I honestly don’t know what is going to happen. He has so much power over the Republican Party at this point — and they effectively control the entire government — that in real terms there’s nothing that distinguishes him from dictator or at least an authoritarian ruler like Russia’s Putin.

If Trump wins, if he does manage to found Trumplandia or the Fourth Reich, or whatever you wish to call it, the next steps could be pretty historically startling. It wouldn’t take too much for Trump to pick up the notion of a new Constitutional Convention as a pet project. Under the guise of passing a balanced budget amendment, this new Constitutional Convention could pass something akin to the Nazis Enabling Acts.

Basic freedoms American have come to take for granted such as freedom of speech, will be thrown to the wayside in an unprecedented manner do to systemic apathy on the part of the American people, if nothing else. We’ll wake up and our worse nightmares of what life under Trump might be will be realized and it will be, very much, too late. This doesn’t even begin to address the long-term damage to civil liberties inflicted upon us in a more subtle manner by the numerous young, insanely conservative judges the Trump Administration is cramming on to the Federal bench. ‘

I wish I could tell you everything is going to be ok, that I’m just being a drama queen and things are going to snap back into place after Trump leaves office, for whatever reason. But I simply can’t give you those assurances. If we as the governed can’t summon up the energy to show our displeasure on this separation policy immediately not only has the pot begun to boil, we’ve resigned ourselves to our inevitable fate.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Trump’s Fourth Reich #KeepFamiliesTogether

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have no idea what it was like in the early days of Nazi Germany. I’ve read William L. Shirer’s seminal work The Rise & Fall Of The Third Reich and so I feel as I have some sense of how things began to change in Germany first slowly then eventually quickly. But from my conversations with MAGA people who remain my Facebook friends (for some strange reason) I’m growing ever more unnerved.

Their arguments defending Stephen Miller’s obscene, draconian border policy that tears children away from their families for no other reason than as a brutal form of deterrence are chilling, to say the least. They are, at least in my mind, indistinguishable from what a Good German may have said in the early days of the Third Reich as the Nazis were solidifying their grasp on power. The most chilling Trump supporter, at least for me, is not the conspicuous “deporable” who obviously is an ignorant numbnuts. It’s the smart ones, the educated ones who either shadowbox their defense of the indefensible or they even worse, they actually have some twisted internal logic to justify it all.

That shit is fucked up.

Add to this that the systemic Constitutional rot the United States is experiencing, with Congress no long acting as a check on the executive branch out of a callow, Vichy mentality and you have makes of a horrifying moment in my nation’s history. If we allow this separation policy to remain unchallenged, if we allow it to just become another aspect of white noise, then the jig it ups. The pot has officially begun to boil and the frog — us — is dead.

I say this because once you allow MAGA to shrug off tearing immigrant families apart because of their immigration status, the same logic can be used for anything. If you consider yourself a Christian, or at least a family oriented American and you don’t step up to the plate and challenge MAGA people on this policy, who’s to say you would really get all that upset if Trump in a few years proposed his own version of Hitler’s Enabling Acts.

This is our tipping point. This is it. If you have any doubts that Trump wants to establish a surreal, Americanized equivalent of a Fourth Reich (I call it Trumplandia, but still) they should be eliminated by what’s going on with children on the border. This is a power grab of unprecedented proportions that because of all the other fucked up shit that Trump has pulled over the last year or so, we don’t really have the proper context to judge.

Now, Trump’s version of Hitler’s Enabling Acts might come from an unexpected direction — a Constitutional Convention. We just the approval of a few state legislatures away from such an occurrence and do you really haven any doubt that Trump in his second term might not latch on to that idea as the ultimate way to make and keep America great? Trump is already doing everything in his power to undermine the foundations of the American Republic. Why not take it to the next level and remake the Constitution in his own image? He’s already cramming in as many young, insanely conservative judges as he can onto the Federal bench, so that would be the next logical step.

So, what I’m saying is it’s now or never. Either we stand and fight on this immigration policy or we have failed ourselves and the generations to come. Remember, Hitler was popular in Germany well into 1943. It wasn’t, really, until the Battle of Stalingrad that he began to suffer significant resentment in the fatherland. It’s not hard to imagine Trump in 2024 picking, say, actor James Woods to be his successor. Woods, as you may know, makes Trump look like a liberal and actually has something of a ideology.

Therefore, while we’re all making these comparisons between Trump and Hitler, because of Trump’s age and complete lack of an ideology, Trump may not be who we think he is. Trump could be simply the catalyst, the primordial ooze from whence the real danger is born. It could be that our American Hitler will be elected in 2024 and the rest, as they say, will be history.

But if you don’t want such a dark scenario to happen, then fight with all your might to stop Trump now while we can. Stop him when he’s still relatively weak. If enough people took a stand on this barbaric immigration policy now, then maybe we can, like the 300 of yore, at least buy some time for the democratic forces that we so love.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.