From The Publisher: Thanks, Twitter, For Screwing Me Over

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, the fact that Twitter is making it more difficult for me to market this site by DMing people on Twitter is probably good for the service in general, but it definitely makes my efforts at building this site a lot more difficult.

I have a pretty good vision for this site, but I simply don’t have the resources to do anything with it to the extent that maybe I otherwise would. I just don’t have the money. There is definitely an audience and a market for what I propose with this site, but the strategy I imagined originally — marketing the site to “thought leaders” on Twitter is now moot.

And, again, while it makes a sense for Twitter to impliment this feature, in a way some of the charm of Twitter is gone. It was fun to think that you might, just might, be able to talk to a powerful person in a direct way using Twitter and those days are now, sadly, over.

I guess it was inevitable that this would happen, but that’s life.

The Vision Thing: ‘Be Engaged, Not Outraged’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have given it some though and it seems as though for all this talk of not being outraged, there is an easy response: “Be engaged, not outraged.”

In other words, instead of getting angry all the time over the latest bigoted, misogynist, racist thing that has happened in Trumplandia, use whatever talent you have to combat it. For me, that’s doing this site. I am a pretty good writer, photographer and organizer. I am good at articulating a vision.

As Trumplandia and Tsar-a-Largo grinds on, the only way we can effectively prevent ourselves from being burnt out is to engage. Push the urge to be angry all the time aside and be energized and engaged in an effort to make the world a better place, to defeat Trumplandia once and for all.

If that means leaving your online cocoon and talking to someone who disagrees with you, so be it. That is probably one of the major problems we have a society right now. People simply refuse to talk to someone who disagrees with them because they think they’re trolling them.

At least in my personal experience, I think maybe that’s a scar from the Russian hacking of our election last year. We were mentally violated by a deluge of paid trolls and bots that were designed to make us fell unsafe online. It’s really tough after such an experience not to retreat to a “safe place” and avoid anyone who disagrees with you. But the crux of civil society is debate between people who disagree, so we can’t give up hope just yet. If we do, then our foe Russia has won even more than just the election of Donald Trump.

So, this site’s vision is to be a place to inform you, entertain you and maybe get you engaged instead of outraged. I have all kinds of cool daydreams that could become a reality with a little help. I really like what the folks of Crooked Media are going, but they aren’t doing enough in my opinion. All they do are weekly podcasts and I need and want something that happens significantly more often. Like on a daily, hourly basis if not even more than that. News seems to break so much these days, it would be nice to have a site that you immedately went to read up on it. Now, of course, Twitter pretty much serves that purpose to some extent, but I guess I’d like something a bit more long form. And since nothing really exists, I guess I feel like creating it myself.

On a personal note, I can’t do this alone if my vision is to become a reality. I need someone to help me. I can’t pay — at least right now — but I do have a decent amount of publishing experience and you could probably leverage your work on this site to get a paying job down the road. At least, that’s the delusion I tell myself when I think it’s possible someone might help me.

Yet, I would like to think maybe someone, somewhere might be willing to put in a minimal amount of effort to help me. All I really need is someone willing to write a little bit to supplement the writing that I do. More importantly, should this site take off — which I seriously doubt it will — I am going to need some donations of some sort for bandwidth, marketing and improving site appearance.

Yet I have very low expectations. Very low indeed. Unless something dramatic happens, I’ll get bored of this soon enough and move on to something else. But it’s definitely fun while it lasts.

The Time Is Ripe For The Founding Of An Anti-Axios Startup

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

This is one of those instances where I can articulate a vision quite well, but given that I simply don’t have the resources, it’s not like anything is going to happen with it. In fact, absolutely nothing is going to happen with my vision for an “anti-Axios” of sorts.

As you may know, from what I can gather from Twitter, Axios is considered a prime example of lapdog “access journalism” in the age of Trumplandia. Off the top of my head, I honestly can’t think of a site that does the opposite online right now.

I can’t think of a site that attacks Trumplandia mercilessly with wit and snarkiness. I am writing this blog in large part because I want to get a lot of things about Trumplandia off my chest and I can’t do it in 140 characters.

I propose that if someone who did have resources were to follow the vision I wish to articulate, that there would be both the audience and the market for the site to be successful. All the ingredients for a site as I propose exist for it to be successful.

You have both a market and an audience that, as of right now, isn’t really being served. If someone like me can’t think of a single go-to blog to read about how horrible Trumplandia is, then obviously it doesn’t exist in any meaningful manner.

What I want is spread across several sites, most of which I don’t read. Vice, Wonkette and a few others do some of what I want, but really the site that as of right now does it is Twitter itself. So, maybe that’s why the site I want doesn’t exist.

I just get it from Twitter.

But it would be cool for a site such as I suggest to exist. Maybe it will eventually, but, alas, I doubt I will be involved in any way.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

American Civil Society’s Reaction To Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

One of the more crazy aspects of Trumplandia is how it’s completely stirred the pot when it comes to the traditional Left-Right divide, at least online. You have people like me, a center-Left moderate liberal agreeing with people like David Frum when it comes to one subject: Trumplandia.

The United States probably has the strongest civil society of any nation on earth, and so it’s interesting how the rise of Trumplandia has played out. The first shockwave of reaction against Trumplandia has come from comics, specifically late night comics. Stephen Colbert’s monologue has become appointment viewing since Trump became president in large part because there’s not really any other outlet right now for our society to process Trumplandia.

Our first reaction as a civil society to Trumplandia, then, is to laugh. We laugh at all these crazy things happening because they’re happening so fast and it’s all so surreal relative to the eight years of “No Drama Obama” that we enjoyed, that we simply don’t know what else to do.

I have suggested that there needs to be a site devoted specifically to picking apart Trumplandia in a snarky manner, like Spy Magazine, Late Night With David Letterman or Gawker.com, but it could be that the energy that the creative energy that would otherwise be put into that is being done on Twitter. At least, that’s one explanation for what’s going on.

Or it could be that I’m just too impatient. Maybe the media ecosystem that would otherwise on a Darwinian level bring rise to an site devoted to Resistance news and commentary takes a little bit more time to develop than I am giving it credit for.

So, it could be that the instability caused by the rise of Trumplandia is summoning the mythical Kraken, it’s just taking a lot longer than I expect. Maybe a year from now, American civil society will be so upset with Trumplandia that any number of different creative forms will be attacking it. That’s my hope.

If you were a bit more dystopian in your inclinations, you might say that we’re totally fucked. By that I mean, we may be on course for a Russian style “managed democracy.” And, yet, I would like to think that goes against the very nature of the American experience. I would like to think that maybe America is better than that. Americans are really docile by nature.

It takes a whole lot to rile Americans up. Once they get angry, though, watch out. Real change happens in America when the populace gets riled up. It happened in the late 60s and early 70s and it could potentially happen again. People talk about how we’re in a Constitutional crisis, and I am apt to agree. We’re in kind of a chronic Constitutional crisis that flares up occasionally without warning.

At the core of this is the Vichy nature of the Republican Party. As I mentioned, Trumplandia has completely ripped up the traditional Left-Right spectrum. We need to keep an eye on that. That is significant in the context of American civil society. When you have people in the intelligence community agreeing with people on the other end of the political spectrum, something significant is afoot.

The prime question, of course, is where does this all end. How will we look back upon this era of Trumplandia. Is this a blip in the overall history of the United States, or something significantly more important and dire. Is Trumplandia more of a Prohibition mistake or is it the death rattle of the traditional American Republic.

Much of what will determine which one of those it is will be what happens next. If Trump manages to right the ship of state and not only survive but thrive, then we may be in a new epoch in our nations history. All the ingredients are there, at least. We have the supine Vichy Republicans giving Trump all the power he likes and we have Trump himself who has a unique ability to connect to the “common man” while at the same time screwing over that very base by destroying the nation’s safety net.

And, yet, at the same time, a fish rots from its head. So, it’s possible that we’re in for an extended period of instability whereby Trump isn’t able to fully consolidate his power for no other reason than his own gaping character flaws.

Should that happen, the thing we will be able to credit is civil society. The political system has failed us dramatically and now the the we have left is comedy, art, drama, music, what have you. That’s pretty much the only thing protecting us from not a dystopian future, but a very real dystopian present.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Twitter, Trumplandia & The Need For A Gawker-Like Startup Devoted To Trump

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Right now, as best I can tell, there isn’t a site online devoted to snarky take-downs of Trumplandia and its citizens. For serious journalism, you go to The New York Times or The Washington Post, for liberal hand-wringing about Trumplandia, you go to The New Yorker or New York Magazine.

But there isn’t the type of site I want to read. I want to read a Gawker-like site devoted to thoughtful, yet angry and snarky diatribes about Trumplandia. As the days pass, I find the absence of such a site more and more odd. It’s curious, to say the least. Such an absence may say more about the blog industry than it does the the opportunity to serve that market and audience.

In other words, it could be that the blog industry is so dead in some ways because of saturation that it just doesn’t make economic sense to found the type of startup I suggest. It could be that all the energy that would otherwise be devoted to founding a startup to address Trumplandia in a snarky manner is instead finding an outlet on Twitter.

It could be that Twitter, in a sense, killed the blogging star. Maybe people would rather hash out Trumplandia’s near daily scandal explosions in real time on Twitter rather than read a 500 or 1000 word piece about how we’re all going to hell and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Or it could be that I’m just being really impatient. I started The Trumplandia Report for no other reason than I, myself, wanted this content to read and also I just wasn’t able to properly express myself on Twitter using threads. I needed space to stretch out and a traditional blog seemed the way to go.

Having said all that, I wish someone would found the type of site I want. I can write on this blog all I want to, but very few people, in real terms, are reading it and there’s little I can do at the moment to fix that given my limited personal resources.

It will be very interesting to see how all of this works out. It is odd that there is this gaping hole in the media ecosystem that no one, as of yet, has filled. Right now, if you want want I am suggesting, you watch Stephen Colbert’s monologue or listen to something like Pod Save America.

I guess what I want is a Pod Save America in text that comes out on a regular basis during the course of the day. So, in that sense, it may be up to someone like the folks at Crooked Media to make my personal dream a reality.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

The Nature & Origins Of Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The central question of the day is how a major industrial nation like the United States managed to elect a highly unqualified reality TV star with a conspicuous penchant for thugs and autocrats as its leader. How did this happen and why? And what do we do next to fix the problems all of this causes?

These are very difficult questions to answer, but I will try to do my best to answer them as briefly as possible. Trumplandia, as I call America under Donald Trump, was born, in part, I believe because of a unique set of circumstances.

Among those circumstances are the hysterical nature of the Right’s opposition to President Obama, an general hatred for Hillary Clinton on a personal level because of her gender and maybe a little bit of national boredom from eight years of “No Drama Obama.”

To me, the core of Trumplandia is how is it that otherwise normal voters bought into the long con of a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue. That’s the crux of this historical moment. And they had their eyes wide open. Trump went out of his way to tell the center-Right who he was. He may have promised them the stars and moon, but he definitely made clear what an asshole he was in the process.

What’s sad is that one a personal level, it’s not like the differences between Trumplandia and The Resistance are going to be fixed anytime soon. Trump has damaged civil discourse on an existential level and it will take many years for it to recover. It’s sad, but true.

Let’s pick apart the different aspects of Trumplandia. We have the racism. Now, I have had more than one conversation with Trumplandia citizens who absolutely refuse to acknowledge that Trump is a fucking racist. They just don’t see it. And it is the racist aspect that is so obvious and yet noting it pretty much shut downs any civil discourse about Trump. But given that Trump was went from being a celebrity to a major politician by peddling a bizarre conspiracy theory about Obama’s land of birth that is central to the existence of Trumplandia.

Then there is the misogyny. Many books are to be written about how America simply wasn’t ready for a woman president, or at least not Hillary Clinton. Clinton was not an ideal candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but she wasn’t an existential threat to the American Republic like Trump is. And, yet, the residents of Trumplandia did not have a problem with that. They made a guttural grunt in Trump’s direction on election day and the rest was history.

The bigotry of Trump against anyone one might consider the “other,” be it Mexicans or Muslims is also a central aspect o the Trumplandia experience. You have to include the word “bigot” when describing Trump because inevitably some Trumplandia person will try to make the case that Trump can’t be a racist because Mexican’s “aren’t a race.” That makes my blood boil, but I add bigot to the litany of charges against Trump to cover that line of reasoning.

Having said all that the case could be made that it was just, on a historical level, the center-Right’s time to run things and no one was prepared for how hysterical it was. So, in that sense, the real failure of the system happened during the Republican primaries when someone like Trump managed to best 15 professional political opponents. That Republican primary voters fell for such an obvious demagogue is something that should give all of us pause for thought.

So, how do we fix this problem?

First, I continue to think that technology may be one way to end the Trumplandia era. Trump is not only FOX News incarnate, he’s also pretty much just a celebrity Twitter troll. Let that sink in for a moment. Perhaps if a new site, one that serve as a “Twitter Killer” came into existence, maybe we could force our leaders to be a bit more cogent online. If it was expected that they were able to write more than 140 characters at any time, then maybe we could expect more from them.

When it comes to ending Trumplandia, one issue that I simply don’t know the answer to is — does The Resistance embrace the progressive movement, or does it bank more towards the center? It seems as if the most basic answer is to embrace the progressive movement, and, yet, the social aspect of that may be difficult to sell to the Trumplandia voter who obviously is cool with a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue. It is difficult to put the genii back in the bottle, as it were.

Trump gets his power from how divisive he is. He forces people to make decisions on a personal level that they never expected to have to make. It is mind blowing to me that people on the center-Right made the cognitive leap to vote for someone like Trump and that a core 30% of them continue to do so, no matter what. Some of this is a tribute to the stability of the American form of government, in that most people vote in November, then forget what about their vote for several more years.

But this election cycle is obviously different. So much smoke is coming out of the Trump Administration, that there are increasing calls for impeachment, barely over a hundred days into the existence of Trumplandia. That core group of 30% is so potent to the political goings-on of Congressional Republicans, however, that it’s unlikely they will do anything about Trump even if it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or his associates are treasonous.

Additionally, the United States has one of the most vibrant civil societies in the world and it is interesting that the first group within that civil society to address Trumplandia effectively has been comedians. That could be the fact that in middle-school the only person willing to stand up to a bully is the class clown, it could be something else. But the fury that comics have thrown at Trumplandia indicates that the American Republic may be a little bit stronger than I am giving it credit for.

Yet, other aspects of pop culture have been relatively quiet since the Trumplandia era began. I mean, where are the movies and songs that are designed to incite The Resistance to action? The silence of both movie and music industries when it comes to Trumplandia is telling. Some of this may come from their longer creative gestation and some of it may come from the simple fact that the Trumplandia infection has not gotten bad enough to evoke a reaction by the average person who doesn’t really think that much about politics. So my hopes for a return to late 60s, early 70s quality movies and music may be a bit presumptive.

Regardless, all of this is going to be serious food for thought for decades to come. The question, of course, is this just a hickup in our Republic’s life, or is this its death knell? That existential question is something that will only be answered in the years and decades to come. It could be that the only the assurance of an open presidential seat every eight years may keep America from slipping irrevocably into autocracy.

The Vision Thing: We Need A New Startup Blog To Cover Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

No one is reading this blog. No one. Less than 10 people right now read it on any day and it’s unlikely that is going to change anytime soon. I just don’t have the resources to promote it and grow it and, honestly, I’m probably not quite the right guy to do what needs to be done: found a Gawker-like startup devoted to picking apart Trumplandia. This is for no other reason than I didn’t go to an Ivy League school and I don’t live in New York City if no no other reasons.

Given that the system completely failed us over the last 18 months and gave birth to Trumplandia in the first place, it is now up to civil society to pick up the slack. It is interesting that comedy, not journalism — online or otherwise — has not done this as much as you might expect. Yes, The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to be in an old fashion newspaper war, but there really isn’t a site online that sticks out as a place for “real news” and commentary about Trumplandia.

It would be cool if there was a site that generated buzz by eviscerating Trumplandia and its perfectly horrid cast of characters. There obviously is both a market and an audience for that online and it wouldn’t require that much of investment of resources to pull it off if you had enough vision.

My vision for things would be a site a lot like the old Gawker.com that tore into Trumplandia on a regular basis and generated buzz by being the opposite of Axios. But really tearing into Trumplandia in a serious, straight journalistic manner with a bit of wit and snarkiness. That would be really cool and I think it would be an instant hit.

It is interesting how civil society has responded to the rise of Trumplandia. It’s interesting that Twitter seems at the epicenter of the rage a lot of people like me feel towards Trumplandia. But I would suggest that comes more from there not being a Gawker-like site for them to read than anything else.

If such a site was started, I would definitely suggest it lean on video a lot. I think the modern media consumer expects video to be a part of any offering.

Anyway, it pains me that I won’t be able to be the guy to do it. I just don’t have any money. I have the experience and talent — to some extent — and I definitely have the vision to do it. But, as I just said — no money. I can have all the vision I want, but if I can’t pay people to help me out, squat is going to happen.

So, I am going to just keep writing on this blog for my own enjoyment.

Trumplandia As The Ultimate Expression Of The Post-Gawker Era

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, let me get some things out of the way. By the time Gawker.com closed its doors on August 22, 2016 because of the vengeful machinations of billionaire Peter Thiel, it wasn’t very good. In fact, I kind of hated it. I hated it because it committed that worst of media sins: being boring.

I could never quite tell the origin of this existential malaise. What it because its founder, Nick Denton, was married and wealthy now and did not want the trouble or was what? There just didn’t seem to be much vision as to what, exactly, Gawker was. And, it had gone from being snarky to just being nasty for no reason than it could be. It just wasn’t cool anymore.

Having said all that, all I can say is we sorely need Gawker now in this era of Trumplandia. We need a snarky Website that tears down the bizarre characters that Trumplandia seems to generate on a nearly daily basis.
The Gawker of, say, 2004 or 2005 would have really dug in deep into the glaring foibles of Eric Trump, for instance. I know I would have loved to have read some of the better writers of Gawker’s Gold Age mull what the significance of Trumplandia was. And given that it was felled by a member of Trumplandia itself is also interesting.

The fact that Trumplandia came into being just about the time Gawker folded is telling. We lost Gawker and now we have Axios, which is generally regarded by the media industry as the Trump Administration’s lap dog. They trade their self-worth for “access journalism” is the conventional wisdom as best I can ascertain.

The old Gawker, the Gawker of its prime when it was more snarky than nasty, would have had a filed day attacking the Trump Administration. It’s weird how not only did we lose Gawker right before Trumplandia, but we lost Jon Stewart’s version of the Daily Show as well. Maybe Bernie would have won the Democratic Primaries had there been Jon Stewart to egg on progressives.

Regardless, I really miss Gawker now as virtually ever day seems to bring with it new, insane revelations from Trumplandia. Gawker was well known for its investigative journalism, so maybe they would have managed to dig up the “pee tape” that everyone wants to see.

Instead of Gawker, now we have Fusion. Which I never read, but seems the bi-lingual corpse of Gawker in some respects, with many of Gawker’s old writers working there. It is telling that right now there is no go-to Website for Trumplandia coverage. Also there are any number of podcasts which are really interesting that cover Trumplandia, but that’s about it. Though there’s New York Magazine and The New Yorker, but really these days it seems TV — and Twitter itself — is where all the interesting Trumplandia coverage is to be had. I suspect if Nick Denton was actually engaged in the Gawker product, that maybe the hypothetical modern Gawker would really be an interesting read again.

There certainly is enough to write about when it comes to Trumplandia, no one wish the resources of Gawker exists right now that I find all that interesting. I wish someone would fill that void. I am doing my little part, but no one is reading this blog and generally no one cares what I have to say. But I find writing relaxing and I am writing this for no one but myself right now.

Having said all that, Gawker, I miss you. I really do. We need you right now.

Welcome To The Trumplandia Report

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I don’t really know what I hope to do with this site. All I know is I have been, in the past, a journalist and there seems to be so much news streaming out of Trumplandia that it seemed like a fun thing to do, to try to a site devoted to giving people my take on things.

I can’t promise that this site will be updated as nearly as much as it should, but I will try. Really, I would turn this simply the Website of a email tip-sheet if I had my way, but it’d doubtful I will be able to manage to get anyoe to give me their email address for that.

One thing I can say is, I will probably update this site mostly in the mornings and late at night because that is when I feel like writing the most. And also when I have the most time. Should this site become a success and bandwidth become an issue, I’m really going to be desperate for some contributions. Don’t know exactly how that will work out.

Regardless, this site, at this point, is more about me enjoying writing than it is anything else. I have zero expectations and I don’t even know if I will continue it beyond the first few days. But, like I said, there is a huge amount of news coming out of Trumplandia and I am a writer, so this is a excuse to flex my reporting skills, if just in a minor way.

Shelton Bumgarner
Editor and Publisher
The Trumplandia Report
@bumgarls