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.

Is 2018 Our 1968? Next Year May Be A Crucial Year In American History #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The thing we have to understand is that because of gerrymandering, The Resistance could win 54% of the popular vote and still lose the House to Republicans. Let that sink in. That’s why if you love the United States as I do, you may have to seriously contemplate getting out of your comfort zone and begin to actively participate in politics in a way you never have.

The 2018 mid-terms are so crucial because House Republicans are so Vichy and callow that if we don’t vote them out of office in a big way, the morphing of the United States into autocracy. Trump is doing real damage to the American Republic and if nothing happens to change the current chronic Constitutional long-jam we’re in, there may be no stopping Trump completely seizing power.

There is an ebb and flow to politics and it was inevitable that Republicans would come back into power. What we didn’t fully appreciate is the hysterical rage caused by the bullshit echo chamber epitomized by FOX News would make the Republicans so bad at governing. So, we have a historical imperative to throw them out of office in at least the House, if not the Senate. If we could flip the Senate, then we could end the appointment of extremely Right wing, extremely unqualified judges to the federal bench. But we’re kind of desperate, so we need the House to flip more than anything else.

A lot of things could go wrong between now and November 2018. Chief amongst them being, Trump could do his failsafe and start a preemptive war against the DPRK. This is a serious possibility that we need to see with clear eyes. We can’t take for granted that Trump will “do the right thing” and not kill a few hundred thousand people by prompting the North Koreans to freak the fuck out. I am of the opinion that they have a vested interest in not starting a war on their own simply for the reason that they know that in the end they will lose, and lose badly.

Regardless, there is a real chance that 2018 will go down as 1968 as a year where the universe changed in a big way. In many ways, 1968 marked the beginning of the modern age and it will be interesting to see of something similar happens in 2018. We face a historical turning point. Either the Republic fails and we become an autocracy, or it bounces back and Trump is destroyed politically.

I am not very sanguine about our prospects. It seems as though the Republic has fallen already and we’re a “managed democracy” like they have in Russia. It’s all over but the shouting, as the say. But we have a small window of opportunity in 2018. It’s possible, just possible that I’m wrong.

One thing is for sure, we need new leadership. We need a new generation of people to fight the good fight. The current crop of leaders is old and out of touch. Trump isn’t going anywhere, but maybe we can mitigate his damage if we manage to flip Congress in 2018.

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.

American Autocracy #Resist

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is too easy to look at the developments of the last year and say, “Lulz, nothing matters!” But that would be a grave injustice to the American experiment in self-governance. We are now in dangerous territory. We like to think only places like Russia and Turkey can succumb to the power of an autocrat and become a “managed democracy.”

At least, that’s what I used to think.

But recent developments make me realize that unless something changes we are slouching towards a new era in American governance. A number of things are coming together at the same time. Dark money, the rise of the Steve Bannon style of populism as well as Donald Trump himself are all shaking the foundations of the American Republic.

If this was an earlier age, historians would say our Republic was gradually slipping into an Empire, with a very specific quirk: the Emperor was elected every four years, but in fact only left office because the Constitution limited him or her to eight years in office. What’s more troublesome is it’s possible America is going to lurch into a “managed democracy” — or already has — and there’s no going back. When a nation has become so divided and partisan that not even accusations of pedophilia can knock a US Senate candidate as Alabama’s Roy Moore out of the race, you know something’s wrong.

All of this leads to the question of what to do. Are we doomed? Is this how the American democratic constitutional Republic ends? Are just one stop away from becoming a quasi-theocratic fascistic state?

Every time I get despondent and assume the worst, I realize I just can’t give up. I just can’t give up on the traditional concept of the United States that I was born to assume was always there. Here are some ideas on how to if not fix, at least ameliorate the problems facing us.

Don’t Enrage, Engage
This is something that the individual can do, regardless of social status or power. Instead of living in your personal political bubble, be willing to engage in cogent political discourse with someone who disagrees with you. Doing so in person is even better. President Obama said something to this effect in his parting speech. Social media — especially how easily it is to for outside forces to influence it — may be what we look back as the deathblow to our American democracy. We have to engage. We have to at least attempt to talk to people we don’t agree with, even if they are angry and think everything we believe is “fake news.” This is really tough and even I find myself not doing it nearly as much as I should.

Liberals Need More Empathy
I’m not suggesting liberals have to compromise everything they believe in. But liberals need to at least attempt to understand why they’re hated so much. Liberals are hated so much that the people who hate them don’t even really understand why they hate them. Liberals too often come off as smug. About half the country is really hurting and is only going to hurt more as technology takes low skill, high wage jobs like truck driver away. It’s a delicate balance given how the Right is full of rage and absolutely refuses to compromise in any way. The Right wants absolute power and absolute victory at all costs and liberals need to take this cold hard fact seriously.

Those are two pretty easy fixes, now let’s move on to some more existential solutions that are probably significantly more difficult to implement.

We Need A New Social Media Platform
We need to burn the village to save it. We need to kill Twitter. Twitter is a real threat to our democracy. I have repeatedly suggested that a new platform designed from the ground up to address the problems of Twitter should be designed. It also might be used to aide and abet people who wanted to protest the Trump Administration should it do something drastic like fire Bob Mueller. A new social media platform designed to fix the problems of Twitter marketed correctly would probably be a success from the get-go for several reasons. A lot of Left leaning celebrities would flock to such a service if they felt more safe. They, in turn, would bring fans and content along with them.

We Need New Leaders
If the rise of Donald Trump has show us anything, it’s that the world of celebrity and entertainment is now completely fused with politics. The center-Left needs to fight fire with fire and recruit leaders from the entertainment industry. I would suggest someone like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would be a great start. But, really, I would even go so far as to say someone like Chelsea Handler might do the trick given how costic our political life has become.

Those solutions, too, don’t even begin to address the deep seated problems with the American Republic. The United States really is two different nations now and it is up to us to prevent a civil war. It is very possible that the Blue States will bolt the United States for no other reason than they feel they are no longer welcome. It will be interesting to see how that exactly plays out.

Should the worse happen and Trump fire Bob Mueller the gauntlet will be thrown down, the Rubicon will be crossed. We get our answer. We will learn once and for all if “American exceptionalism” has at last come to an end.

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

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.