A ‘Ready: Player One’ For Middle-Aged People Who Love Pop Rock

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Let me start off by saying I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m essentially working in a vacuum as I develop this novel. And I write a lot of blog posts when I’m trying to distract myself from the novel problem of the moment. So, take a lot of what I write with a grain of salt relative to your personal expectations of my ability to actually make what I can articulate a reality.

But, I would note in passing that I’m kind of obsessed with the type of music I point out in this novel. So much so, that the argument could be made that if you like good music — or, at least the type of pop rock music that I like as a middle aged white man in a flyover state — this novel is shaping up to be something of a Ready: Player One for you.

At the core of this novel is how several very important characters love “good” music that fits a very wide spectrum of “pop rock.” But, this is a novel we’re talking about, not a movie. So, the actual implementation of this concept will likely be far more limited than I would like. There are plenty of people who won’t know any number of the songs I reference. But, who knows.

All I know is, I need to hurry the fuck up. If I don’t get back to writing soon, I may not be able to sell it a finished product for no other reason than I’m going to be rotting in the American Killing fields in some weaponized ICE camp.

Or, maybe I’ll escape to Canada and publish the novel there.

Wish me luck.

The Struggle Is Real: Constructing A Complex, Believable Female Romantic Lead For My Novel

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

With the complaints of outspoken Hollywood feminists like Olivia Wilde and Jessica Chastain ringing in my mind, I find myself trying to construct a romantic partner for my Hero who is strong enough and complex enough that I feel she will be noticed by women who may read the novel.

I’m getting kind of desperate. I know what her name is and what she looks like. But figuring out her personality is proving to be really, really tough. In my desperation, I am turning to someone who has enough of a public footprint that I can use her as inspiration. (Who? Not tellin.) I only do this because, what else am I going to do? I know the woman’s musical tastes and her age, so that goes a long ways towards using her as the foundation of the character, at least in that side of her life.

One element of the character — her professionalism and career drive — is proving to be the hardest to construct because I would need to hang out with the woman who is inspiring that side of her and, well, I’m just a middle-aged loser in a fly over state. So, I’m going to have to some reverse engineering. For this side of her life, I’m really studying Jodi Kantor. She’s a little older than I need the character to be, however, so it’s not an exact fit. But I think if I look at the social media footprint of women like her on Twitter, then that will help a lot.

One thing that’s proving to be a real pain to figure out is, of all things, how my two romantic leads deal with Thanksgiving. Ugh. So difficult. But every problem is an opportunity in disguise.

My Novel Wants To Be A Movie

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I’m enjoying developing my novel a great deal. But there are times when I wince at how much a movie wants to pop out of it like an alien xenomorph. A lot of the scenes are very visual and require you know songs for them to make the most sense. And, yet, given that I can only use song titles for IP reasons, I have to pick songs whose titles sum up what the songs are about as well as their mood.

Most of these songs, of course, are so well known that even the most clueless reader has at least vaguely heard of them. One thing I know is I really have to explain why my heroine would listen to the music she listens to. The average young person today listens to a very specific type of music that a lot of older people such as myself simply have never heard.

Luckily, however, the novel is set in the immediate past AND I’ve managed to come up with a reasonable explanation for why my heroine would listen to the type of music I need her to listen to. But the issue of how people will know in real terms how a song I want in their mind would play in the context of the scene is something that eats away at me. It would be solved very easily if I was writing a screenplay. But I don’t want to do that right now. I want to write a novel. I just am a very music-oriented person and I’ve structured the entire novel from the ground up so that pop rock music that I know a lot about is a crucial aspect of its universe.

But anyway. I going to try to flesh out my scene summary as much as I can this weekend. I’m shooting for no later than sometime in January to start writing in earnest again. I have a lot of momentum and love the characters, plot, and universe. I just have to live up to my own pretty brutal expectations. Even then, I’m a lot better storyteller than writer.

Republican MAGA Radicalization & Trump’s Ultimate Political Fate

YikeS!
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The key issue before us is the Republican Party has finally, officially come detached from any connection to liberal democracy. On an institutional level, it’s the Trump Party now. The Republican Party is so completely consumed by Trump’s ideology — or lack thereof — that they simply don’t care about anything other than defending Trump em masse. They have a short term goal, and that’s it: successfully get Trump acquitted in the Senate by any means necessary, even if it means destroying civil society in the process.

So all the tut-tuting of Republican logic by Blue Check Liberals on Twitter is wasted time. This is not about logic or facts, this is about white knuckled political tribalism — identity politics for angry white male Baby Boomers, if you will. Throw in plutocrats, the Religious Right and gun rights advocates and well, here we are.

All of their talk about “letting the people decide” is a bad faith argument to its core. Given what Trump’s accused of — bribery, extortion and political cheating on a strategic level in the upcoming 2020 election — they know the moment Trump’s acquitted he will pretty much go full Putin. He will pardon everyone he needs to pardon and he will instruct Barr to indict (criminal referrals) whomever needs to be indicted. He will, at last, be the authoritarian autocrat he’s always wanted to be. The only things stopping him will be his growing mental instability and his general criminal incompetency. That’s it. That’s why I think their next immediate goal will be to replace Pence with someone like Kris Kobach, or Tom Cotton or The Kooch. Someone who can take over for Trump in his second term should he turn into a mental puddle.

All signs are pointing to the bad guys winning. ICE will be weaponized and I will die in an ICE camp or maybe an American Killing Fields somewhere like upstate New York. So if you see this worst case scenario as your BEST case scenario, you can really just fuck off you piece of shit.

Having said all that, there are at least some known unknowns at this point. Republicans are so completely invested in Trump’s fate on an existential level that they have one of two high-risk endgames before them. Either they “win” and we become a Putin-style “managed democracy,” or they lose and the crisis grows even worse for everyone involved (in a sense.) A major political party can’t grow this radicalized so suddenly without a bolt popping of somewhere. But before we get to that point, let’s see what might stop Republicans from finally destroying the Republic.

Trump Loses His Mind

This is a real wildcard. It’s a big deal because it’s a lingering issue that may pop up at any moment in a fashion that would throw the country into an unprecedented crisis. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be July 2020 (if he’s still in office.) In real terms, it’s the most likely thing that would force him out of office politically anytime soon.

Major Anti-Impeachment Violence On The Part of MAGA
I used to think this might happen. Now, not so much. But if it did happen, that would be one of those impossible-to-spin-but-they’ll-try-anyway things that would really ramp up the political pressure to end Trump’s presidency sooner rather than later.

His Taxes
This is one of those things that is so important and yet may only happen after he’s acquitted so it’s a lulz.

Unexpected Testimony
Don McGahn or John Bolton or one of the Russians involved in Rudy’s “drug deal” unexpectedly testifying in a timely fashion would definitely put a different spin on things going forward.

But the thing is — a growing number of people not in the Republican criminal cult are flabbergasted at their complete refusal to see what’s going on with Trump. Americans are not Russians. While as of right the moment I think Republicans have a 110% chance of burning the whole fucking country down and successfully protecting Der Fuhrer — and indirectly leading to my death in an ICE camp sometime no later than maybe 2023 — there is also a greater-than-zero-sum chance that some pretty shocking things might happen in the near term to at least make that now near-inevitability a bit more complicated.

What those “shocking things” may be, I simply have no idea. But the conditions are there for political events the likes of which we’ve only seen rarely in American history. I’m talking 9/11-levels of shock to our political system. And maybe more than one! The sad truth is no matter what happens in the next few months, the nation is in a new political era. It’s up to us if it’s a good or bad one.

Shelton Bumgarner is writing his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Republicans Are Wading Into Possible Defeat Friday With Marie Yovanovitch’s Congressional Testimony

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

If there’s any justice in this world, at some point very soon Marie Yovanovitch will be named Secretary of State. Given all the misogynistic criminal bullshit she’s had to go through, it would be a great way for her to cap off her long years of public service. But generally the world sucks and the badguys win, so I don’t see that happening.

But tomorrow (Friday) she’s supposed to testify in the impeachment proceedings. Apparently her closed-door testimony was rather emotional at times. As such, there’s a chance that NBC News will get the theatrics it feels are necessary for anyone to care. If the woman breaks down into tears a few times and Republicans are completely oblivious to it the optics of that will be less than optimal for House Trump. It will only get far, far worse for them when they rant on FOX News that we can’t take her as a credible witness because she was too emotional. THAT will go over well with white women in the exurbs of Philadelphia ages 35 to 42.

Yet, I think tomorrow may be something of a battle royale in more ways than one. Republicans probably want a few political wins going into the Sunday morning political shows and as such may pull of some stunts to explode the hearings. Nothing is off the table. They may finally get their craven wish to out the whistleblower. Anything is possible.

I keep saying I can’t predict the future and this is no different.

A Darkness At Noon

We are so fucked.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I just don’t know how the political fever that has gripped the nation is going to break. Either Trump escapes AGAIN, or we careen into something tragic and messy that at least heralds a new era.

A little background. I’m a political child of Watergate. Well into my teens, I felt the political echo of Watergate all around me. I watched a lot of mid-80s TV and there were an array of characters from Watergate who were all over the place on my screen. I did not know the context until much, much later. But now that I do, I realize that even under the absolute best of circumstance for the Republic a lot of very profitable political careers have already been made as part of the Trumplandia clusterfuck. Really, the only issue is context

Anyway, the point is, we’ve now reached the stage in the impeachment process where it might have suddenly dawned on House Trump that this is, in fact, an existential threat. They are going to bend every rule, break every law, say every lie they have to extricate themselves from a potential political death spiral. It’s at least possible they will win. In a sense, I would much rather we fight to win then lose than simply meekly allow the criminal fascists in the Republican Party to burn the Republic the ground in the name of “civility.”

My chief concern right now is the Russia investigation report about to be released by the Justice Department. Even the lengths they are going to spring this thing on us out of the blue without any leaks, it’s likely to be a very authoritarian document. It will be such a bullshit turd that its findings give Republicans something to rant about whenever the subject of impeachment comes up. The real unnerving part is what happens if that DOESN’T work. What if they win a news cycle or two but in the end the impeachment inquiry keeps on moving. It’s when what the two sides are talking about are so dramatically different that the entire political system is disconnected that there’s a real danger of something unprecedented in American political life since at least the end of Reconstruction– political violence.

That it hasn’t happened yet is really quite heartening. Republicans are so wrapped up in messaging the base, they have become completely unhinged. Some pretty mainstream figures are now laying the groundwork for some MAGA nutjob to hurt a lot of people. Republicans will — without missing a beat — pivot to how this is proof we have to stop the impeachment process because “people are getting hurt” and what Trump did wasn’t really that bad afterall, especially given what the Justice Department’s report on the Russia investigation said.

I still can’t pace out an endgame in my mind right now. It’s not obvious to me how this is going to end. A few more shoes have to drop for me to have a better sense of how likely I will meet an untimely demise in a weaponized ICE camp in Trump’s second term is. We’re definitely in the danger zone of such things for the next few weeks. One issue is that Justice Department review of the Russia probe. That will be a huge test. I generally think we’ll fail. Impeachment will be seen by Maggie Haberman and The Vogel as politically nonviable and it will peter out. Trump will crow that he was right all along and Barr will hand down bogus criminal referrals for people like John Brennan. And that, will be that.

But I can’t predict the future. A lot of things could blunt — or end — our near-term march towards authoritarianism. Trump could go nuts. Trump could go transactional with his Twitter offenses and there be a big backlash. Enough people might be enraged over what Trump did that they see through the bullshit of the Barr Report and the impeachment process zooms along.

Yet I’m very weary to be too optimistic. The press is so wrapped up in “being objective” in an era of asystematic political radicalization that they take the House Trump bait hook, line and sinker and darkness falls. At least I have a novel I’m writing. Maybe I’ll finish it before ICE drags me out of my bed in the middle of the night, never to be seen again.

Sen. Lindsey Graham Is Desperate To ‘Kavanaugh’ The Trump Whistleblower

Shelton Bumgarner

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The darkly comical thing about Republicans is they are so craven that they give the plot away in what they accuse their opposition of doing. One can often get a lot of insight into the Republican fascist mind in the crazy things they accuse Democrats of doing. If they have this or that bonkers thing at the forefront of their minds, then you get the sense that THEY are they ones who want to do that. It’s almost a dog whistle to the base. In a sense, they’re saying, “Don’t worry, fam, we got you.”

Anyway, it’s interesting how completely fucking obsessed Sen. Lindsey Graham is with outing the whistleblower long after much — if not all — of what was in the original complaint has been confirmed. Given that Republicans like Graham are so deeply bad faith in anything they say or do, every argument they are giving for why they so desperately want the whistleblower’s name to be common knowledge is total and complete bullshit.

The reason — they crave the opportunity to “kavanaugh” the whistleblower as one of several last-ditch efforts to prevent Trump from even being impeached. They want the entire country to look at everything the guy has done in his entire life instead of all the very public criming that Trump has done over last 40 odd years. They were impressed with how effective the character-based argument were against Kavanaugh and they want the opportunity to do it to the whisleblower to prove a political point. In their instance, they want to switch out their own losing fact argument for simply making everyone talk about the whistleblower’s equivalent of Squee, “boofing” and Beach Week.

That Republicans like Graham are essentially hanging all of their hopes on this strategy is rather bonkers, surreal and tragic. I’m not saying it won’t work. There’s a good chance it will. But there’s also a good chance that if they go all-in on destroying the whistleblower for daring to sound the alarm over the Dear Leader’s criminal activity, things may get out of control and, well, dun dun dun.

Graham and the rest of the Republican Trump sycophants won’t miss a beat, of course. Within 24 hours of the whatever Very Bad Thing happens because of their own overheated and overwrought political rhetoric they will have talking points written up for the MAGA sheep to graze on. They will include:

Democrats have to stop the impeachment process immediately, people are getting hurt.

House Democrats are at fault for starting the impeachment process and some of them should be charged for “involvement” in the incident.

Blah, blah, blah, let the people decide, blah, blah, blah

There might even be even more slinging of civil war talk at this point as, well.

The Dear Leader

The point is, Republicans are so absolutely devoted not to their party, but to Donald Trump on a personal level and Trump is nothing more than a deranged version of Being There’s Chauncey Gardner, they setting themselves up for having to defend the absolutely indefensible. They will gleefully do it because, lulz, democracy and human decency are for low-T betas, amiright?

How confident am I that this absolute worst case scenario may happen? Not very. But there is a greater-than-zero sum chance something along these lines may happen as Graham continues to bang the drum to out the whistleblower.


We’ve Officially Entered The Fucking Insane Part Of The Impeachment Process

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Editor’s Note: I kind of got worked up in this one. It was cathartic to rant, but I’m actually much calmer and ready for whatever might happen than this piece might suggest.

The two sides are beginning to gird their political loins for battle. Now until no later than right before Thanksgiving could be pretty lit. I can this because apparently Bill “Q” Barr is hurriedly wrapping up this bullshit report that will prove that Trump was “right” all along about his fucking InfoWars bullshit conspiracy theory that somehow it was Democrats in conjunction with the Ukrainians who “framed” him on the matter of his collusion with the Russians as part of the 2016 election.

A number of things may happen in quick succession. Chris Wallace and Maggie Haberman scream at the top of their lungs that Trump’s been proven to be a political “genius” yet again and huzzah! the Thousand Year Trump has finally been established. Don Jr. will be touted as our Crown Prince. Trump will pardon Manafort and Flynn. Trump will signed an EO ending birthright citizenship and he’ll make a calling a Constitutional Convention the centerpiece of his 2020 re-election campaign. At some point in Trump’s second administration I simply stop posting to this blog because an ICE agent will knock on my door and pistol whip me. MAGA will gloat that the “cleansing” of America has begun and all those industrious, God fearing red necks in rural Alabama will pick up the economic slack for the heathen Hollywood types who have left the country for good. If you read this and say to yourself, “Wow, that sound GREAT!” Please, please eat shit. Fuck off, you piece of trash human being.

Now, let me collect my thoughts. There is another option. Bill Barr’s report is, in fact, a bombshell, but it doesn’t do what it’s intended to do — distract Maggie Haberman. It just makes people man. Really mad. Bill Barr has a pretty serious vested interest in pulling bullshit out of his ass on this issue and even if he has “proof” of this fucking insane conspiracy, Trump’s criming on the issue of Ukraine doesn’t just suddenly go away. But I guess that’s not the point — MAGA simply wants something to talk about instead of what a piece of shit our president is.

On a more serious note, pretty much Republicans are going to lie, cheat, hurt people, do whatever they have to do in their last gasp effort to protect the Dear Leader. They will be so hysterical — especially if Barr’s bullshit report doesn’t do what they think it will — that they’re pretty much going to be eager to burn the whole country down to prove their point. Nothing will be off bounds. Nothing.

One other crucial aspect of all of this is Trump’s mental state. I am beginning to think that while he’s going to be generally more erratic, he’s not going to actually snap like I thought it might. If he does snap, it’s more likely to be sometime between now the middle of his second (third?) term. By that point, Don Jr will be the Crown Prince and I’ll be dead in an ICE camp ditch, so lulz.

I have no idea what exactly will happen, but I do suspect we’re in for a few weeks of unprecedented instability.

Impeachment Has Turned Republicans Into Fascist Radicals On A Rhetorical Level

History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Well, one thing’s for sure, no matter what the outcome of the impeachment process, the political hangover is going to be a bitch. MAGA Republicans were already a hysterical lynch mob before this all happened. The process of impeachment is turning them into fascist radicals completely devoid of decency and absolutely dedicated to destroying the Republic in the name of power and greed.

You know what I can compare it to? The old JMU urban legend about a group of friends sitting around drinking when someone confesses that they stole the personalized New York State licence tags off someone’s car. They, being from Virginia, think its a lulz. The person at the party who learns this, being from New York State is enraged because of how expensive the tags are. This leads to a huge fight.

The same with Republicans. Trump stole America’s personalized licence tags and Republicans want to lulz it. They see democracy as solely as a means to an end. Everyone else, meanwhile, is like, “Holy shit!” So, if what Republicans hope happens — Bill Barr successfully plays the part of Q, or whatever — doesn’t happen, they are likely to grow so worked up rhetorically that they damage themselves politically for a generation. Let me quickly qualify that statement — the Republican Party ain’t going no where. They’re bad faith political actors on an institutional level and they’re base is cool with that. They are so radicalized, so criminal, so fascist, that they honestly do think a fascist theocratic state would be an “improvement” over the Godless transgender one we now have (in their eyes.)

Macro, systemic issues caused Trump’s election and they’re only getting worse, not better. We have a solid 20-ish years before the youngest of the Baby Boomers begin to drop dead just as the Browning of America begins to kick in. Throw in, like, Florida vanishing into the sea, and there are some major things that are likely to cause Republicans political problems in the coming decades. But they’ve been aware of this since at least 1974. Trump just happens to be the moron at the right place and time to make their plot against American democracy a reality.

But let me be clear — the best case scenario for non-hysterical Americans is simply the context of this clusterfuck is a bit different. Ford BARELY lost the 1976 election after giving a full and complete pardon to Nixon. Barely. It was a razor thin defeat. So, it’s very possible that we could get rid of Trump politically and either Pence wins the presidency in his own right or some batshit insane racist fucktard like Tom Cotton, Kris Kobach, Don Jr or Tucker Carlson does the same thing in 2020.

I still think that in a surreal way, our best case scenario might be a president Ivanka Trump. She’s such a doofus that not only would the MAGA base be happy, but she’s probably so ill-equipped to be president that she wouldn’t be able to conspire with a foreign power to throw the election. She would effectively be a caretaker president who would take the blame if the economy went south, giving Democrats what they needed to win the presidency.

Remember, though, the clock would be ticking for any Democratic president sworn in on Jan. 20, 2020. They would have just over 2 years before Republicans would impeach them to make a political point. Republicans after Trump is somehow magically removed from office will be out for blood. They are going to lie in wait until they can strike and cause as much damage to a Democrat president as possible. Republicans have no shame. They will gleefully be huge hypocrites if it means they can bounce back into the White House in 2025.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Even simply impeaching Trump at this point is still up in the air. It will be interesting to see how things play out.

Bill Barr As ‘Q’

Will the real “Q” stand up.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The only reason why I rant against MAGA asshats on this blog these days is I get the sense from my Web traffic that a small portion of my microscopic audience comes from MAGA people spooging their pants at my dire worst case scenario pontification. There’s not much I can do but just tell them to fuck off and eat shit. You’re such a partisan that you actually want Trump to put people like me in an ICE Camp and murder me then, well, what more can I say but fuck of you piece of shit.

One thing I’ve seen up-close and personal by using Periscope over the years is there are some pretty fucking insane MAGA people. The vast majority of Periscope users seem to be MAGA dead-enders who should they see Trump murder me in cold blood would lulz it and say “at least they don’t have an Obama phone.” After the “poor optics” of Mueller’s testimony to Congress, these asshats gloated over Trump’s victory. That Trump would use this political victory to turn around and do the exact same thing within 24 hours apparently was lost on them.

The thing about many MAGA shitheads is they confuse a lack of political will with a lack of crimes on Trump’s part. So, what I fear will happen is at some point between now and Thanksgiving, a Barr Report will be released which somehow manages to implicate people like John Brennan in some sort of far-reaching conspiracy involving Ukraine, the Democrats and Crowstrike. These MAGA loyalists will cackle as Maggie Haberman or Chris Wallace say politically impeachment is dead in the water and, by the way, John Brennan, call your lawyer.

Given how dumb the conspiracy that Trump apparently believes actually is, what specifically the Barr Report will say is a struggle for me to imagine. But he’s going full speed ahead with it. The point is to so muddle the conversation about impeachment that we’re all debating the merits — or lack thereof — of the Barr Report and not all the very public criming Trump has done. So, really, Barr probably doesn’t have to do all that much. Any conversation that House Republicans are having about the bullshit findings of the Barr Report is a conversation they’re not having about Trump being criminally incompetent.

Or, more broadly, I think the issue for Twitter liberals is the Republican Party is SUCH a bad faith actor on an existential level that they are going to fight dirty. They are going to lie. They are going to cheat. They are going to get so wrapped up in their overwrought, overheated messaging of the MAGA base that they completely and totally lose sight that some idiot, somewhere will take their messaging seriously AND literally and someone who opposes House Trump is going to get hurt. I really, really, really, hope I’m wrong on this one. I want to beat House Trump on strictly a political level.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. There’s no ready endgame for impeachment. It could still go either way. Things have stabilized a little bit in the last few days, enough for me there may be some pretty big “HOLY SHIT” moments between now and the end of the year. What they might be, I have no idea.

But I am beginning to think Trump might not be as thrilled about being impeached by the House as Maggie Haberman would have me to believe in her soothing tweets she writes on this matter. I would go so far as to suggest that if, despite the Barr Report, Trump is still in danger of even being impeached, some pretty dark shit is going to happen because Republicans will suddenly realize what has always happened in the past is not going to happen this time.

Trump is going to, in fact, face some political consequences for being a moronic tyrant.

I just don’t know. I just don’t know how things are going to work out. Trump is apparently going to release another “transcript” on Tuesday (tomorrow) and that could be a series of FUD mindfucking on the part of House Trump to throw political roadblocks in the way of impeachment.

If Barr does fancy himself Q, then there will be two potential reactions. Either his bullshit works — again — or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then buckle up. House Trump is going to flip the fuck out in some pretty astonishing ways.