Shakespeare In The Park & Art In The Trump Era

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have addressed this before, but the fact that people are getting all bent out of shape over a modernized version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar makes me reflect on it yet again. To me, art is supposed to be not only provocative but a reflection of its times.

So, it seems in the specific instance of Shakespeare in The Park, we should judge the play on its artistic merits more than how inflammatory it is because of how it portrays Caesar. It is also quite ironic that while the Right accused people like me of “snowflakes” who need “safespaces” so we’re not “triggered,” they, in fact, are the ones who seem so easily upset when it comes to thought provoking art.

But that is becoming a cliche, given how often people like me are forced to make mention of it. So, for me, it’s more an issue of the play is supposed to not be all that good as opposed to how horrible it is that Caesar is portrayed as a Trump like character.

Anyway, what this means to me in the long run is in the culture wars, in this slow moving political Cold Civil War that we’re experiencing, the greater entertainment business has a responsibility to produce quality, through provoking art that helps us process this event.

As I keep saying, I continue to suggest that someone, somewhere use “The Mule” portion of The Foundation Saga to explain Trumplandia. But given that not only do I not have the rights to is, but I’m not a good enough writer to do it, anyway, that is just going to have to stay something of a daydream.

I continue to be puzzled by how quiet Hollywood is on the subject of Trump. It takes time for scripted material to get developed and produced, so maybe that’s the delay, not any kind of “shock and awe.” It will be interesting to see if a year from now there are lots of TV show and movies like the Shakespeare in The Park production or not.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

How Will This Cold Civil War End? Some Scenarios

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is pretty obvious that, as someone on Twitter recently said, we’re in a “Cold Civil War.” So, without further ado, here are some back-of-the-envelope suggestions as to how this clusterfuck will work itself out.

1. Dystopia: The Bad Guys Win
In this scenario, there is no impeachment, no nothing. All the lying works and the United States settles into a Russia like “managed democracy.” The Resistance kind of peters out simply from outrage burnout if nothing else. The States will become not-so-quasi-autocracy and will be so for the foreseeable future. This will all come about when we prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was collusion between Trump’s Campaign and the Russians and the Vichy Republicans just shrug and because of gerrymandering and dark money nothing changes. Nothing changes at all.

2. Things snap back into place
Now, when I say this, I mean it in the context of general trends that have been ebbing and flowing in American history for decades. So, while it’s possible that things will “snap back into place,” it’s not like our gradual march towards a quasi-autocracy in all but name isn’t going to continue. That’s just a problem with late-era empires like ours. But, if we’re lucky, Trump might be a one term president and the next president will pick up the pieces and we’ll just look back at this four year period as a very strange aberration in our history.

3. Progressive Revolution
One intriguing possibility in all of this is the possibility that The Resistance will decisively defeat Trumplandia and the pendulum will swing to the center-Left in a big way. So big, in fact, that a lot progressive goals will be achieved during the heady days after the defeat. Constitutional amendments will be passed, reforms will be enacted. It will be looked back upon as a Second Reconstruction.

4. Hot Civil War
It is very possible that the only way that there will be a end to the Cold Civil War between Trumplandia and The Resistance will an actual, hot Civil War where people die and get hurt. I have my doubts about this possibility, but it’s very real. I don’t know how it would work out. It’s a struggle to imagine how an actual Civil War would play out in modern America.

5. Stalemate / Trumplandia burnout
It could be that this will be a chronic problem for the next eight years. That the lying will work, but only so much. The problems with the system will be just enough to get Trump re-elected, but not enough to allow him to do serious, long-term damage to the Republic. He’ll leave office, a Democrat will come in and everything will gradually just continue as it has been, only with the continuing sector of Trumplandia in the background.

My bet is on a less powerful version of the progressive Second Reconstruction. It would all be on political terms, so it wouldn’t be as effective as the Reconstruction after the Civil War, but I have hope that the base, The Resistance will grow so angry over the next few years that the Blue Wave we all hope will happen, will happen. That’s my hope at least. Maybe.

Cold Civil War:The Demise Of Blogging, & The Rise Of Trump In The Twitter Era

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

That a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue such as Donald Trump would become president in the wake of traditional blogging’s demise is an interesting and telling occurence. It raises some powerful questions for no other reason than we’re now in something of a Cold Civil War as America’s civil society struggles to understand what the fuck is going on.

For instance, when the president tweets, what is it? Is it “just social media” or is it an official statement from the President of the United States that should be treated as such. I lean hard on the latter. If the president writes it and it’s meant to be seen in public, then it’s an official statement.

But what’s interesting is Trump and his vile ideology prospers in a very narrow subset of social media. Twitter is kind of an interactive discussion between people’s bumper stickers. What’s even more interesting is you can, if you wish, block someone’s messages to you on Twitter.

The result of this is powerful. We come to expect that if we don’t like what someone is communicating to us, that we can eliminate that communication for good. That leads to a warping of the traditional communication cycle because people suddenly feel entitled to “safe spaces” because they’re afraid they’re going to get “triggered.” If they didn’t have the option of eliminating communication they didn’t like, maybe they would develop tougher skin and we wouldn’t be in half of the trouble we’re in currently.

Meanwhile, Twitter’s face pace and pithy style of communication has led to a Darwinian struggle of ideas. Instead of a marketplace of ideas, we have a jungle. Now only the strongest, more virulent strains of memes manage to grow in the Twitter jungle. There is a reason why we say a meme has gone “viral.”

So what does all of this mean in the context of Trump’s rise and the demise of blogging. Well, I am suggesting that if we still were talking about the once-powerful “blogsophere” that Donald Trump would not be president right now. Way back only a few years ago, before the rise of Twitter, you had the option of long, well thought out blogs that forced not only the reader but the writer to engage in something more than a bumper sticker’s wroth of communication. Instead of 140 characters, you had to wade through 500 or more words to fully process what was going on.

Is there any solution to all of this? Well, in my opinion, yes. I feel as though if Silicon Valley stopped being so obsessed with AR and VR long enough to revisit the issue of social media, maybe we might be able to dig ourselves out of this Cold Civil War. Silicon Valley made this problem, I feel it’s at least partially their responsibility to solve it.

I have gone into great depth on my Instagram account about how I, personally, would fix this problem but because I have no money, can’t code and don’t won’t to learn, I’m really just shouting out into the void. But let me briefly recap my concept. It’s very timely now, to say the least.

It seems to me that if you gave Verified Account holders a sense of stakeholdership in platform, then maybe they would generate better content and it would be less likely that celebrity trolls like Donald Trump would rise to prominence. So, I would give them the ability to create “Groups” in a service. The “Groups” would be given names devoted to any subject that a Verified account holder might feel their followers might find interesting. These “Groups” would be sub-divided into “Discussions.” These “Discussions” would be thread discussions made up of full pages posts about the topic of the “Group.” So, in a sense, you would kind of update the Usenet concept of 20 years ago. There are any number of concepts from that era that we’ve lost weirdly enough over the last few decades.

All of this would be even cooler if you had a newspaper chain like, say, Tronc, fund such a startup in the first place in an effort to self-disrupt the newspaper business. It’s a really intriguing concept to say the least.

The point of all of this would be that not only would it encourage better content, but given that the medium is the message, maybe if you had a full webpage to discuss a subject in the context of a threaded discussion, maybe it would be less likely that stupid, hateful, and loaded concepts like “Make America Great Again” would go viral and infect the body politic.

But, of course, none of this would happen in a vacuum. You’d have to design such a service from the ground up as something of a “Twitter Killer.” And it’s possible that Twitter isn’t going anywhere and all of this is pointless. Yet it is, at least, interesting to talk about.

I guess what I hope is if we somehow killed Twitter, provided a better, similar product that forced us to write in more than 140 characters, then then next adept politician who was adept at using social media might be a little less crazy. Of course, maybe I’m missing the bigger picture. It could be that we’re just going to have to wait until VR and AR get to the proper penetration in society before we have another shot at fixing the problems caused by existing social media. Or maybe social media video like Facebook Live or Periscope might be what we’re all talking about in four years during the next election cycle.

If we can’t kill Twitter, then it seems as though Twitter as a company has a responsibility to better handle its abuse by Russian-paid trolls and bots in four years. The Russians learned a valuable lesson in 2016, and they’re only going to come back worse and more determined in four years.

I just hope there’s something left in four years. There are no assurances that the Good Guys will win the Cold Civil War and it may still be raging yet in four or six or eight years.

Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com. He is always looking for people to write for him, though he can’t, at this point, pay.

Dig In For The Long Haul, Folks, This Cold Civil War Isn’t Going Anywhere

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

We really have to stop the constant outrage when it comes to Trumplandia. If you’re a member of The Resistance, you need to take a huge, deep breath and realize this is going to be a long haul. This isn’t going to be finished anytime soon. This is a epic power struggle that will be so heated that at times it will seem like it will careen into outright violence, much like the global Cold War did from time to time.

So, as I keep saying, don’t rage, engage. Use what Constitutional rights you have to make a difference on an local and individual level. The great irony of all of this is the only political solution may, in fact, be four years from now. That’s right, we may gnash our teeth, yell at the top of our lungs, and the only thing that actually fixes the problem is Donald Trump is voted out of office FOUR YEARS FROM NOW. Let that sink in. Think of all the damage he and the Vichy Republicans will be able to do.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the fact that should The Resistance be split into liberal and progressive wings or if Trump wags the dog by starting a war with North Korea or Iran, then it may be eight years before Trumplandia ends.

These are just cold hard facts. We just have to stop being constantly outraged. We need to address the more important issues of what Trumplandia wants to do to the liberal national social safety net, or whatever. Those cold hard issues are what we need to be thinking about in the forefront of our mind, not mentally masturbating about how Trump should be impeached sooner rather than later.

That just isn’t going to happen. So, get over it. Deal with the cards we’re given right now and move forward. This is a political problem with enormous consquences and not until we’re given another opportunity to vote will it matter.

So, just cool it. Save your strength. We haven’t even reached the end of the beginning yet. We’re getting there, but not yet. This is still about 1940 when it comes to a World War II analogy. We still have years and years of struggle ahead of us.

Talk To Me Internet: We Don’t Need No (Cold) Civil War

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It’s telling how we’ve reached this period of a long, drawn out scandal with no end in sight. Someone one Twitter called it a “Cold Civil War” and I totally agree. That’s exactly what it is. This is going to go on for a long, long, long time — like four, or six or even eight years. If The Resistance is split in 2020 and the economy is doing ok, then Trump could very well win re-election.

In other words, we really need to stop being outraged over every little thing Trump does that is, well, outrageous. We need to hunker down for a really long war of politics that we may, or may not win. At the end of all of this, Trump may end a complete eight year administration and position Pence to be his replacement.

In that case, it could be that the only thing that ends this hell we’re is people simply grow so weary of all the exciting news — and Republicans in general — that they eventually vote for The Resistance for no other reason than the same one that got us into this problem in the first place: it will just be the Democrats’ time to be in office again.

Of course, given how callow the Vichy Republicans are, the Russians could hack our election again or they could wag the dog and we’re just going to be fucked. This could be a new epoch in our history. We could be in a long-term dystpian nightmare with no way out at least as long as I’m alive.

Trumplandia: Life During A ‘Cold Civil War’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Someone on Twitter mentioned that the United States is in the middle of a “Cold Civil War,” and I am apt to agree. I say this because I have been mulling how similar what is going on right now resembles a civil war in all but name and blood.

We have heroes, we have factions, we have shifting alliances. It’s weird how at this point there is little to distinguish the center-Right NeverTrump movement from the center-Left Resistance movement. Those two concepts now have common cause against Trump and the broader Trumplandia concept.

This works well with my personal belief that we really need to adjust to the new normal of Trumplandia. This is going to be a long, hard political fight and it may last about the same amount of time of a World War — four to six years. Let that sink in.

It is pretty obvious that the Vichy Republicans see Trump as a political gravy train and they’re not going to stop supporting him until long, long, long, long after we reach a devastatingly surreal moment in our nation’s political history. We’ve already reached that, but we’ve barely gotten to the end of the beginning of this political crisis.

It makes a lot of sense to see this as a Cold Civil War, at least in political terms. A war is easy to start and difficult to finish. And so, really, not until the base of the Democrat Party is as hysterical as the base of the Republican Party was in 2016 will anything change. We haven’t gotten there yet, I’m afraid. It’s going to take time. Probably four to six years. Let that sink in.

Remember, the only reason why Nixon was forced out of office was that there literally were tapes of him obstructing justice. Even if the pee-pee tape was real and we all saw it on FOX News, Trump would not be removed from office. And that doesn’t even begin to address the likelihood that The Resistance will be politically divided in 2020 and Trump will be re-elected.

There is just too much that could go wrong at this point when it comes to efforts to get rid of Trump through impeachment. In short, he’s not going anywhere for years. This really is a Cold Civil War and there are no assurances that the Good Guys will win.

All we can do is continue to fight the good fight.

Don’t Rage, Engage: Cool It On Trump Impeachment Talk For Right Now

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The more I think about it, the more I realize that all the energy people like me are spending on how we’re going to impeach Donald Trump is just wasted time and energy. For the time being, it’s just not going to happen.

There just isn’t anything that Trump could do at this point that would lead to his immediate impeachment. Nothing. Nothing at all. Whatever you can come up with, that would not do it. The Vichy Republicans are so callow, so Vichy that even if Trump really did strangle someone on 5th Avenue, nothing would come of it. There is some doubt as to if you can actually try a sitting president for criminal offenses at all.

The issue is, impeachment is a political process. And, really, that’s the only way to address any sort of malfeasance on the part of the president. So, there’s just nothing we can do right now. We are going to just suffer Trumplandia. We’re just going to have to deal with whatever horrible thing Trumplandia manages to produce between now and fall 2018.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you consider yourself a member of The Resistance, stay energized and vigilant, but for the time being spend the energy you would exert on outrage and planning your impeachment parties on staying engaged not only politically but in your efforts to cross the political divide.

Now, roughly a year from now, things will be different. The issue will be The Resistance will have to be just as pumped when it comes to voting as Trumplandia is. Trumplandia won in 2016, in part because they were just so hysterical about eight years of Obama that they were willing to eat at any of the bullshit that a demagogue like Trump managed to feed them.

I guess one way to look at this is — the base may have to make its own leaders. It may come down to the base deciding if we ever get rid of Trump at all. It’s possible that there will be no “Blue Wave” in 2018 and Trump will not only survive but prosper. That’s a real possibility. Let that sink in.

Regardless, we have about a year before things will look up. Given that the current news cycle is about 5 minutes, that’s a long, long, long, long time to have to bide our time. And that doesn’t even begin to address Trump trying to wag the dog or new Russian interference.

It could be that we might have Trumplandia for eight or 12 years. Remember, Reagan / Bush lasted for 12 years and the Democratic Party made a lot of mistakes a long the way. It all came down to fate, luck and the historical quirk of Bill Clinton.

Something similar may happen again. It’s kind of scary at this point, but better to realize the gravity of the situation instead of burning ourselves out.

The Fire Next Time: How To Prevent The Russians From Hacking The Next Election

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have already proposed some fanciful Constitutional fixes when it comes to how to prevent a foreign power, namely the Russians, from hacking into our election system. But is there any more practical manner to do that? One issue is that our system is so open that it’s difficult to come up with any fix that wouldn’t cause more harm than good.

In other words, just like building a wall is applying a sledge hammer to a social issue unnecessarily, so, too, the most obvious way to fix the issue of the Russians hacking into our election system: significant increase in regulation of the Internet would too easily be abused or other purposes. And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of how it probably wouldn’t stand up to Constitutional scrutiny.

So, it seems like we’re fucked.

In desperation, if there was real political willpower to fix this problem, we might get the government to work in tandem with Twitter to lightly regulate bots and trolls from, say, six months out from election day. Something whereby we at least made it more difficult for Russian bots to fuck with people’s minds. But given that the Republicans are so completely Vichy when it comes to Donald Trump and the Russians, there simply is no willpower to do anything at all.

I honestly can’t think of any scenario where the issue of how to prevent Russians from hacking into our election cycle will be fixed anytime soon for any reason. It’s only going to get worse. It seems as though for the foreseeable future something we take for granted — free and fair elections — are, in fact, in danger and for once the problem isn’t even self-inflicted.

It’s all deep. It’s all very deep.

A Hot Take On James Comey’s Testimony

by Shelton Bumgarer
@bumgarls

While in some ways today lived up to the hype, in other, more fundamental ways I found it rather underwhelming. I found it underwhelming because the thing I had hoped for — some sort of iconic statement that would prove the final death knell of the Trumplandia experience simply did not happen.

And, alas, it seems as though it just isn’t going to happen.

What is really beginning to sink in — yet again — is how difficult it is to get rid of an American president once he’s in office. So, as long as there are no tapes — be they of a pee nature or otherwise — I have a growing fear that Trumplandia will be a fixture of the American political landscape for at least two years, if not much, much longer.

It seems to me that we’re in for a chronic case of Constitutional Crisis that will flair up every once in a while for the forseeable future. We’ve entered the age of tribal politics and the Republicans are so Vichy, so callow, so complicit in the rise of Trumplandia that they simply won’t do anything to ameliorate the situation until they are absolutely forced. It will nearly take the hand of God himself for Vichy Republicans to look past the base and put country over party.

It’s a sad fact, but given how it seems as though the GOP is hellbent on dragging James Comey’s reputation through the mud that that is exactly what is going to happen. There just aren’t any easy answers to how to fix the problems associated with Trumplandia. We’re stuck with it.

So, while the Comey hearing was dramatic and riveting, it did not really give me the political release that I was looking for. I didn’t get that perfect moment that could be used to end the cancer that is the Trump Administration.

If anything, it reminded me that we’re barely at the end of the beginning when it comes to this scandal. And, remember, to date, most of the damage inflicted on the Trump Administration has been self-inflicted. So, even though a fish rots from its head, it is almost inevitable that Trump will eventually untangle this clusterfuck of a presidency enough to survive, if not prosper.

Really, all we need is a war with the DPRK or Iran and suddenly everything will have worked itself out and the Tsar-a-Largo problem will be put on the backburner to such an extent that we won’t even remember it. And, remember, if a hayseed rube like me out in the sticks and see that possible out, then definitely Steve Bannon sitting in the White House can see it.

Thus anyone who is getting all excited about the prospect of getting Trump anytime soon should chill out. It’s just not going to happen for at least two years. That is the bare minimum. He could be around a lot longer than that. Much longer.

Therefore, all I can say is if you really want to end the Trumplandia Era, you need to engage, not rage against people who disagree with you politically. That’s it. That’s the only way it’s going to happen. It will be tough and you’ll be called a cuck and much worse by members of Trumplandia, but in the end it will be worth it. I swear.

Vichy Republicans & The Fall Of The American Republic

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Someone said on Twitter that it felt like Trumplandia was “cratering” tonight. I would strongly say the opposite. Because of the callow, craven nature of the Vichy Republicans that have essentially given absolute control to Donald J. Trump, things are only going to get worse for the foreseeable future.

Only if something really, really telling happen, like a Jeremy Corbyn win in Great Britain would I sit back, rub my beard and mull the possibility that maybe that things have gone to far. Something like that would give me some hope that maybe the pendulum is swinging back toward some form of sanity. I say that as someone who fears if Corbyn won you’d have to que the Benny Hill music when it comes to British politics. It’d be kind of nuts, if fun, if it happened.

Sorry for the noise in the background on this one.

Regardless, domestically, at least we can only take solace in the fact that it appears as though Trump has lost Twitter. Or, maybe, the Russian hackers that manipulated Twitter aren’t getting paid anymore so they’ve moved on. It used to be that you couldn’t have an actual serious conversation about Trump without whack jobs popping out of the woodwork all but demanding you bow down before Trump as Lord Zood. But that has changed in a weird way. It’s the silence that’s really weird. Trump hasn’t lost Periscope yet, so I guess he has that to be thankful for. Periscope users are still completely nuts.

I continue to be really unhappy with where things are going with Trumplandia. The Vichy Republicans are to blame for this and nothing is going to change as long as they’re in power. So, we’re stuck with Trump for a solid 18 months, at least, and that doesn’t even begin to factor in the errant power grab on his part caused by a major crisis that may happen with, or without, his approval and goading.

The Vichy Republicans are allowing Trump to sow division both at home and abroad. They are completely complicit n all of this and I pretty much think we’re on track for the fall of the American Republic. By that, I mean, like the frog in the slowly boiling pot, we may very well wake up one day soon and some pretty basic right will be gone. I don’t know how exactly it will all happen, but it will happen.

Why am I so sure? Well, the silence on the part of the Vichy Republicans is so loud and the cancer on the American body politic that is Trumplandia seems to be metastasizing so quickly that what other inevitability could there possibly be? Not to sound too much like a Debby Downer, but I really need some hope. I need something to latch on to — like a Corbyn win — to give me some indication that there will be a happy end to this dark period.

I place all our problems at the feet of the Vichy Republicans. If they would put country over party, then the system of Constitutional checks and balances put in place by the Founding Fathers would actually, like, work and stuff. But as it stands, we have a tyrannical, would-be autocratic madman at the center of the nation’s political universe. What’s worse, he keeps alienating everyone but is base through erratic tweets, pulling out of important international agreements, and generally being a monumental dick.

But because the Vichy Republicans are addicted to power above all else, and the Republican base that elected Trump and continues to support him has absolute sway over them politically, there is nothing that might induce them to have anything resembling a backbone. It’s just not going to happen until they’re kicked out of office. I’d like to think that a Blue Wave of The Resistance might do the trick, but may be deluding myself. Given that people are dropping out of Congressional races due to death threats, that pot may be a lot closer to boiling than
I would like to admit.

Really, it seems as though if power is the only thing that the Vichy Republicans care about, then the only time they may get a backbone is about a year from now should it appear as though they are going to lose “bigly” in the 2018 mid-terms. If that doesn’t seem to be the case, they won’t say a peep. But if things take a dramatic turn for the worse between now and, say, July 2018, there might, just might, be an unprecedented series of events where by the Vichy Republicans finally grow a pair and demand some accountability from the Trump Administration.

Even more interesting, as I have mentioned before elsewhere, if the Vichy Republicans lose Congress in November 2018, there might be a battle during the lame duck session of Congress between Republicans and Democrats to see who gets to impeach Trump first. The reason being, the Republicans would want the right to approve now President Mike Pence’s replacement.

And that doesn’t even begin to address my true nightmare scenario for 2019 whereby Trump would simply pardon everyone involved in Tsar-a-Largo — including himself — and hold up on the White House with the nuclear codes and dare anyone to come after him. A shoot out between the Secret Service and FBI on the White House lawn would be, uh, unique from a historical standpoint.

I guess all of this comes back to the point that we shouldn’t assume history goes in a straight line. We could very well be at the end of the road for the American Republic as we have conceived of it for about 240 years now. This could be it. The end. We could be, from now on, a semi-autocratic quasi-religious imperial system with only the assurance of an open presidential seat every eight years being our last foot hold to our republican past.

It pains me to suggest such a thing, but we can’t delude ourselves into thinking the Vichy Republicans will ever grow a backbone. We could be stuck with Trumplandia for four or eight more years and then we really would need someone to make America great again.

All I can say is what I’ve been saying — stay engaged. Don’t rage, engage is the catch phrase I’ve come up with. It’s a pithy explanation for my personal vision for how we dig ourselves out of this hole. There are no easy answers when it comes to Trumplandia.

We just have to have hope that the American spirit is stronger than a despot who would aim to inflict a “managed democracy” on us from above. Don’t take anything for granted, folks. This party has just begun.

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