Kirstjen Nielsen And Tom Cotton Are Liars

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I can’t get over that both Kirstjen Nielsen and Tom Cotton, otherwise presumably honorable people, are willing to lie to protect our shithead, scummy racist president. And no one seems to care. No one. I blows my mind. It’s mind boggling that this is the case.

The worse part of all of this is that “normal” people are slouching towards his slimy shitty level for white-knuckled political reasons. It’s really nuts. It’s completely bonkers. All this insane stuff is happening and political gravity continues to be suspended.

Donald Trump is a racist, and people like Kirstjen Nielsen and Tom Cotton are protecting him and it blows my mind. It is an outrage. But there doesn’t seem to be any consequence to it. Is America so fucked up that someone as slimy and ignorant as Donald Trump can cause hopefully honorable people are willing to cover for him.

It’s crazy. Insane. And there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.

TrumpRussia, Iran-Contra And How We’re All Doomed

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It’s growing ever more obvious that we’re doomed. The rabid efforts on the part of the Republicans to discredit the investigation of Robert Mueller into TrumpRussia are largely successful and there’s nothing we can do about it. Even if the “Blue Wave” happens in 2018, things will be so muddled that in real terms it won’t matter. Trump will evade impeachment and or impeachment and conviction and we’re stuck with him until at least 2021, if not longer.

I say longer because there’s a real chance that for various quirky reasons Trump will win re-election and will serve out a full eight years. The question, of course, is what kind of nation will he leave behind him once he finally leaves office.

But having said all that, the closest historical analogy I can find to what I think will happen with TrumpRussia is Iran-Contra. The only reason why I suggest that to dramatically different scandals may endup the same is that in the end, well, nothing really happened. Though Reagan got out of his jam by saying he was sorry, Trump will get out of his jam by muddying the waters to such an extent that even if he’s caught red handed there won’t be any national consensus as to what to do. But the end result of the two scandals will be the same: nothing. Even though Reagan should have been forced out of office, he wasn’t. And, too, Trump should been forced out of office, but he won’t.

We’re doomed. We’re completely doomed and Trump and his MAGA people will ruin the country once and for all. Add to this the implacable dumb beat for a Constitutional Convention and it really does seem that all is lost. I hope this isn’t the case, but as of right now, that seems to be exactly where we are.

That’s why someone like Oprah is such an appealing candidate for me. She inspires hope. She is everything Trump isn’t and yet shares many of his skillset. History is very strange — especially in this era — and maybe, just maybe some sort of hopeful event might pop up when I least expect it.

The Moment Someone Mentions The ‘Pence Pivot,’ I’m Going To Lose My Shit

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It goes without saying that we’ve finally achieved dystopia. This has happened in large part to complete complacency of the “Lulz, nothing matters” conservatives who are too busy raising their children, working hard and paying taxes to care about anything Trump does. They just don’t care. They cared for a few days in late 2016 around the election and they made their decision.

Everyone else, meanwhile, looks around and sees hell. The very things that people like me have been worried about when it comes to Trump have come to pass. We’re careening towards a theocratic, autocratic plutocracy. This has been building for decades and with the advent of Trump has accelerated at light speed. We still have several more years of Trump bad behavior before the “Lulz, nothing matters” conservatives finally begin to care again. In fact, it may be 2020 or 2024 before they stop raising their kids long enough to pause, again, to take an interest in politics.

It is because of the “Lulz, nothing matters” conservatives that Bob Mueller could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with the Russians and nothing will happen. Add to all of this the very real possibility that Trump will wag the dog by starting a war with the DPRK and the future of the United States is pretty dark for the next few decades.

But should Trump finally, finally do something so heinous, so obscene that the “Lulz, nothing matters” conservatives get woke, there is a very real possibility that at the very moment they agree with me that Trump has, at last, gone too far and has to go, they will do the Pence Pivot. The Pence Pivot, at least in my mind, is when a Trump supporter says, in essence, that it was all worth it because they wanted Mike Pence to be president, anyway.

I am not a violent man, but the first time someone uses that argument on line or in person, I’m going to lose my shit. I am going to scream until I’m mute. That someone would just ignore the damage Trump has done with the wave of a hand and say it doesn’t matter Pence is president now is such an affront to everything I believe in I’m going to flip my lid. I’m going to lose my shit.

But I doubt we’ll ever get to that point. The “Lulz, nothing matters” conservatives are so content with Trump’s insane vision of America that we will never reach the Trump Singularity when the Pence Pivot happens. There’s nothing we can do. Nothing. This is it. The end. The America that I knew growing up is no more and the only reason why I’m not moving back to Seoul is, in real terms, I can’t.

Of The Resistance, #NeverTrump, A United Front, The #2018Midterms & A Flag

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I propose a United Front against Donald Trump in the 2018 election cycle designed with the sole purpose of electing people to Congress willing to vote to impeach and convict Donald Trump. Right now, there are two groups: the Left’s Resistance and the Right’s #NeverTrump. I propose the two formally united the banner of a United Front.

Now, I like to name things and the first name for a united front that comes to mind is the Jackson-Lincoln United Front, uniting the founders of the two major political parties. But, of course, everyone wants to hate on Jackson these days for being a horrible racist, so that would be problematic. So, maybe Washington-Lincoln might be better. Or even the Roosevelt-Reagan United Front. Something symbolic that represents the two sides of the political spectrum. Or, hell, maybe even the Comey United Front. I’d know. Work with me.

I also suggest a flag to go with the United Front. Now, the reaction of many — many nearly all — is we already have a flag, Old Glory, which would be perfect for the job. But to suggest that misses the point. Old Glory is great and all, but we need something specific to a United Front that would help united people in the specific goal of impeaching and convicting Donald J. Trump. There are so many things we could impeach Trump for at this point that the Articles of Impeachment write themselves.

Some Thoughts On How America Gets Out Of This Trump Mess #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The existential question of the day is whether or not Donald Trump is a fluke or the dawn of a new, dystopian era in American history. One thing is fore sure, Trump’s rise to power is the culmination of structural, systemic issues in the American body politic. Not to invoke his name too lightly, but Trump, in a sense, is an American Hitler if you think of history but as the biography of great men.

It is possible that the United States will bounce back, at least momentarily, from this Bad King. I mean, Caligula in all his insanity didn’t manage to bring down the Roman Empire. But I do think Trump is endemic of the end of the American Republic. The entire system is so broken, so built to squash leadership in any meaningful way, that there’s a real chance the United States is fucked.

And, yet, it is at least possible to put a positive spin on things. But it would require some pretty astonishing things to happen. The crux of the issue is — has Trump so fundamentally warped American politics that we can’t go back to traditional politicians? Have we reached Idiotracy at last and from now one, our politicians have to be establish celebrities and our celebrities have to be politicians? The answer to that kind of question will come, probably about November 2018.

When people begin to throw their hats into the presidential ring in earnest in late 2018, that will determine the tempo of things. A lot, unfortunately, depends on one Donald J. Trump. If Trump manages to survive past 2020 and have a second term, it’s really likely that there really will be no turning back. It’s very possible that we will have entered a new era in American political life that really is dark and uncharted. A lot depends who Trump is going to be up against in 2020.

I have long suggested that the only type of person who could defeat Trump, who is nothing more than overgrown middle-school bully, would be the adult equivalent of a middle-school class clown. It seems readily apparent that someone like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert or even Chelsea Handler might be the silver bullet that might be able to slay the political monster that is Trump. Handler, in particular is, in a weird way, perfectly suited to the task at hand. She’s got just the right acerbic wit combined with a tough as nails sensibility that she could effectively deal with whatever horrific vitriol the Right wing managed to throw at her. There is the issue of a sex tape released by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, but I would like to think in this bizarre political world we now live in that wouldn’t be held against her too much, at least by most voters.

Meanwhile, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would be great candidates as well, but it’s highly unlikely that Stewart would leave his petting zoo in New Jersey or that Colbert would leave a successful late night talk show to run for president.

One thing we have to take seriously is how the Russians might try to meddle in the election again. The American political system is so fucked up in a structural way, that it’s very well possible they could throw the election to Trump AGAIN and nothing would happen. Trump really has a near mystical hold on his followers that is difficult to explain or break. It is very well possible that he will not only survive, but thrive and prosper in the coming days and that there really will be nothing to stop him from finishing two complete terms.

That, of course, would leave the issue of where will America be once he finally has to step down. I would, again, suggest that that will be settled by who his successor is. If Trump’s successor, after eight years in office, is another celebrity, then that would be a definitely different spin on things than if it was a career politician. At this point, it’s too early to tell which it will be. Right now, it seems as though Trump is going to plow his way through the American political system, doing as much damage as possible.

And, yet, if, say, someone like James Comey were to succeed Trump at some point in the future, the American Republic might bounce back a lot quicker than you might think. But that is being really optimistic. It is difficult for me to say in good faith that the United States is even a Republic at all anymore. We are careening towards a theocratic, autocratic plutocracy of sorts. No amount of leadership will fix such long term trends. Effective leadership might manage it, mitigate it or ameliorate it but it won’t eliminate it altogether.

Having said all that, I would also like to say that as an American, I have hope that American exceptionalism still burns in the hearts and minds of its citizens and we ultimately will reject the “managed democracy” of Russia. I’d like to think that at some point people power will kick in and we’ll take back our government from the kleptocracy that it’s succumb to for the time being. But I don’t know, I just don’t know. I can’t predict the future and it could go either way, it really could.

At this point, we’re just going to have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune until November 2018. If the “Blue Wave” really does wash down on the shores of Washington, then we can talk. Then there is a real chance that this Trumpian nightmare will end sooner rather than later and we can put it behind us. But every day Trump is in office, we risk bigger and worse disasters.

A real chance exists that Trump will try to save his sorry ass politically by pulling the biggest “wag the dog” in American history by initiating a “preemptive war” against the DPRK. I could totally see him doing it by, say July 2018, so in about November 2018 his approval rating will be in the high 80s as TV and social media are awash with the spectacular images of the long-oppressed people of North Korea at last being liberated. We could all wake up in 2021 to a truly distopian future.

One fear I have is Trump is, really, the only thing keeping the United States away from a civil war. The peace of mind that Trump gives the insane Right wing may be a weird firebreak that we won’t realize we enjoy until it’s gone. The United States is, right now, effectively two different nations and it could tear itself apart if we don’t find some effective leadership in years ahead. But sometimes you don’t get leadership until there’s a reason for people to rise to the occasion, so who knows what will happen.

Trump’s Campaign Colluded With Russians. Now What. #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It’s pretty obvious that we now have proof that the 2016 Trump Campaign knowingly and in a systematic manner colluded with the Russian government to rig the election in their favor.

The question, of course, is now what?

I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait and hope that Congress is flipped in 2018. That’s all I got. I say that because, well, the Republican Party is so surreal in its partisanship that they would rather protect treasonous behavior on the part of Trump than potentially risk the passage of an enormous tax cut for the wealthiest amongst us.

So, in short, we’re fucked. We are so completely fucked that this lurch towards authoritarianism will grind on for at least another year. In the end, I think this scandal will be a lot like Iran-Contra. We’ll know the facts, the president might even admit what happened and say something akin to “I’m sorry,” but ultimately we won’t get rid of the fucker in any meaningful way.

I fear that even if we do flip Congress and impeach Trump, he won’t be convicted by the Senate. Or if he is convicted by the Senate, I worry he won’t see the vote as legitimate and we’ll have shoot out on the West Lawn between the FBI and the Secret Service.

The prospects of things going back to normal are extremely dim. We’ve entered a new age and the future is dark for the American Republic. I think when we look back upon this period 20 years from now, we’ll see it as the period where the United States finally transitioned from a constitutional democratic republic to an theocratic, autocratic quasi-fascist state.

Talk To Me Internet: #Feminism, #TrumpRussia #Startup #Romance

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Talk to Me Internet
In this one, I talk about middle aged #romance, #feminism, #feminist theory, not having a crush anymore and #Trump and #TrumpRussia. I also talk a little bit about #writing a #novel and a #startup to “kill” Twitter.

A Modest Proposal: Chelsea Handler Should Run For President

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

While I frequently suggest that someone like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert run for president, given the crisis we’re in and the current political climate, it seems as though center-Left people should go for broke and get Chelsea Handler to run for office.

I say this because any candidate that any candidate that the Democratic Party fields will be attacked in such a manner that whomever the candidate is would needs to be tough as nails. The only person I think of who could give as good as she got is Chelsea Handler. She has a rapier whit and she could eviscerate the dogs of rhetorical war that would be let loose against anyone in her position.

Now, there are some obvious issues: like Donald Trump, she has no governing experience. There is also a sex tape of her released by a vengeful ex-boyfriend to deal with. But given how batshit insane it is that Trump became president, that probably wouldn’t be as big a deal as you may think.

A lot depends on the state of affairs in 2020. If Trump has managed to plow through all the scandals and the Democratic Party is completely prone, it seems that things will be so desperate that people will be willing to give her a chance.

Also, a lot depends on the state of politics in 2020. Will we be tired of celebrities being president, or will we have fallen off the cliff and now that’s what we expect. That’s something I just can’t answer at this point.

Is It Even Possible To Engage Trump Supporters At This Point? #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Something I struggle with is engaging Trump supporters. I struggle to understand their psychology. I worry that if people like me dismiss Trumpist out of hand, that will lead to some very bad things down the road. Like, actual violence in the United States as the county finally tears itself apart like a sinking Titanic.

It is really easy — intellectually lazy, even — to do just that. To simply wince, wave your hand and assume that because Trump supporters continue to be sycophants for a racist, misogynistic bigot that they aren’t worth talking to.

I have struggled to talk to them since Trump got elected and more often than not, I just got angry. One of the more difficult issues to address when it comes to Trump supporters is their America First isolationism. For a “globalist cuck” like myself, it’s difficult for me to grok someone who completely rejects something that seems pretty self-evident: that the United States having a proactive foreign policy is a force for good across the globe. How do you engage someone who rejects 70 years of conventional wisdom? That particular issue is so difficult for me to process that I simply don’t know where to begin.

I don’t know if I’m not smart enough or what when it comes to this particular issue. How do you address the world view of someone who rejects the basis of Pax Americana? They want America to turn inward in a way not seen since before World War II. I just don’t have a ready argument for people who reject any source of facts I might produce on the matter as “fake news.”

But I think some of it all boils down to the absolute rage and feeling of disenfranchisement that that core group of 37% of the electorate that supports Trump no matter what feels. It now, in hindsight, is obvious that because of technological and economic changes that someone like Trump was inevitable. Someone was going to see an obvious political opportunity and strike. Little did we ever imagine that it would be a celebrity TV gameshow host who would do it. And with the help of the Russians, no less! But it happened.

That Russian interference is something that should give all patriots pause for thought. That American conservatives are so detached from the world I know and love, that they feel so disenfranchised that they would willingly ignore what is tantamount to treason on the part of the Trump campaign simply because they want to turn back the policies of the first African American president is pretty mind boggling. The only thing I can compare it to is Vichy France.

We need a national conversation between the rural Trump supporting world and the urban progressive world. We can’t just give up. If we give up we’re doomed. We’re doomed to a civil war. Any student of history will tall you that in the late 1850s, a similar dynamic was afoot in the American body politic as the industrial North with free labor grew increasingly distant from the slave based South.

I love America and I don’t want a civil war. So, that’s why myself and people like me who consider themselves center-Left have an obligation to try to engage Trumpists. We have to figure out how to engage them without compromising to such an extent that we give up everything we believe in. It’s extremely difficult, however.

The crux of the problem we face is just that. Technology has made is so easy to live in our own little bubble that that we aren’t forced to come up with arguments to use against people who disagree with us the most. Bac 30 years ago, we all had a common reality and could agree on the facts. Now, too often, at least with Trumpists, anything they don’t agree with is “fake news.”

When I’m feeling in a particularly bleak mood, I think a civil war is inevitable. It definitely seems that way right now. But if the right leadership arises maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong. We need leaders willing to unite us, not divide us. But it could be we’re doomed and we’ll look back at this era in our history as the precursor to a civil war or worse.

#Trump, A Reassessment: Mulling The Long Con #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

For about six months after Trump’s election, I was so angry that I seethed with rage. Now that I have calmed down considerably, I find myself struggling to understand why Trump won and what is continued appeal is for roughly 37% of the American electorate.

We have to understand that Trump is a product of social media. Something about the rise of social media has made people extremely partisan. Some of it has to do, I think, with how easy it is to block or otherwise avoid people who disagree with you. So, both sides simply wallow in an echo chamber of things they agree with, leading to the breakdown of the traditional basic need of democracy to have consensus, compromise and synthesis. Throw in dark money, gerrymandering and Russian meddling through bots and paid trolls and you have us where we are today.

And, yet, we have one significant thing to be thankful for: Trump has no political ideology. He has no strategy. He’s all about the tactical win. He’s all about winning the moment. If Trump had the rock-hard ideology of, say, Pat Buchanan, we would be in serious trouble indeed.

But, as it stands, there is no Trumpism without Trump. Whatever magical mystery power Trump has over a sizable chunk of the electorate is attached to him personally. So, really, the only way to get rid of Trumpism is to completely vanquish Trump personally as a political force. That is quite tricky because the American Republic is on such shaky legs for various reasons that the core problems that allowed the Trump caner to fester will remain for many years to come.

One issue is people like me are too quick to enrage and not engage Trump supporters because, well, we’re at a loss as to where to begin. Where do we begin to engage people who we feel support a racist, misogynist bigoted nativist? I struggle to do that for various reasons. I closest I can come is seeing that the blind rage of people in rural areas about the modern liberal order was so great in 2016 that they were willing to overlook any flaw on Trump’s part because they thought he would, in fact “drain the swamp.”

That’s the thing that I think people like me have the most difficulty understanding: that core group of people who support Trump really do support the authoritarian chaos that he has caused since he came to power. That’s what they wanted. It’s difficult for secular humanists like me understand why “values voters” could possibly support the thrice married Trump. But they do. They do because they know that while he’s using them for his own political needs, he will, in fact give them the reach around that they have longed for so desperately. He gives them a sense of power that they haven’t felt in decades, if ever. The fact that it’s all a gross political ploy doesn’t phase them.

Another thing people like me struggle to understand is that fact that rock hard core group of Trump supporters that aren’t going anywhere really do think a Hillary Clinton administration would have been worse. They actually, to this day, really think that. They may be a lot more quiet than they were election day night, but they still think it.

Which raises an interesting counter-factual. What if Clinton had won? What would the world look like a year after the election? Probably something like this: instead of Trump’s tweets causing chaos from the White House, they would incite the Republican Congress to look for any number of different reasons to impeach Clinton and they probably would have gotten pretty damn close.

But Trump won. So we have to deal with the consequences. One of the crucial unknowns is will things snap back into place once Trump finally leaves the public sphere, or are we doomed. Are we going to suffer a Russian-style autocracy from now on because of the damage that Trump has inflicted on our body politic, or will we go back to some semblance of normalcy once he’s gone?

The answer to this question lies, in great part, to who succeeds Trump. If it’s Mike Pence, probably things will be more likely to snap back into some semblance of being normal. However, if Trump manages to last a full term, or even get re-elected, all bets are off. It is possible, probably probable, that we’ve reached some sort of event horizon whereby the realms of celebrity and politics are so muddle that they are indistinguishable.

It may be that the person who manages to heal the divides caused by Trump — and they are many — won’t be a traditional politician at all, but a liberal celebrity who manages to bridge the gaping wound that Trump has caused in our national psyche. The longer Trump stays president, the more likely it will be, say a Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart who succeeds him. I like to think that the only person who stands up to the middle school bully is the middle school class clown and it would make a lot of sense if someone like them took up the challenge of bringing down Trumpism. Though of late I’ve begun to think that the only person who could handle the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune any Democrat would suffer at the hands of FOX News’ bullshit would be someone tough as nails like Chelsea Handler.

The most ominous aspect of all of this is it’s possible we’re doomed. It really is possible that the United States is now a failed state and the only thing keeping it together is Trump himself. It’s possible that Trumpists are so completely deluded and brainwashed by their bullshit bubble that once he’s no longer in power things will grow dire indeed. And that doesn’t even begin to address the possibility that someone really dangerous — a charismatic Right-wing nutjob with an ideology — may learn from the mistakes of Trump and inflict the final death blow to the American Republic. That we really may fall of the precipitous into a dystopia.

I would like to think I have some hope that that worse case scenario won’t happen, but I don’t. History doesn’t go in a straight line and there are absolutely no assurances that the good guys will win. All we can hope is that some sort of sanity will return to American political discussion sooner rather than later.

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