Vichy Republicans & Their Big Meh At Trump’s Collusion With The Russians

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

If there is any central event that signifies how fucked the United States is because of the rise of Trumplandia it’s the fact that as we careen towards the very real possibility of proved collusion between the Russians and the 2016 Trump campaign, there’s a growing chorus of people on the Right who shrug and say: So what, no laws were broken.

That’s pretty much the core belief of Trumplandia. There is no shame, no sense of how bad something might look as long as you win and keep power.

This intertwines quiet well with the absolute complete inability to recognize the repeated, staggering hypocrisy that members of the Right have to engage in on a daily basis to maintain their absolute support for their Dear Leader, Donald Trump.

Trumpandia citizens rail about liberal celebrities telling them how to vote, then turn around and vote for a celebrity. They make the use of a private email server on the part of Hillary Clinton a huge campaign issue, then their Dear Leader asks world leaders to call him on his personal insecure cellphone. The list goes on and on.

But the idea that even if we prove collusion that it doesn’t matter because no laws were broken really takes the cake. It seems to me that this is the first step in the defense of Donald Trump down the road once collusion is, in fact, proven.

This brings up an interesting point. The Right acts as if they’re so fucking oppressed and yet they are on a hair trigger to attack any screw up on the part of the Left. President Obama gets caught on a hot mic once that he will have more flexibility with them diplomatically after the election and Right Wing Nut Jobs try to compare that to could have been a wide-ranging, sweeping collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign in 2016.

Let that sink in for a moment.

All of this, of course, gets even more murky when you realize that the Vichy Republicans are so complicit this collusion that it is highly unlikely there would be any consquences even politically for Trump should it be proven beyond a doubt that there was active collusion with the Russians. It goes without saying that had Hillary Clinton’s campaign done anything like that, there would be hell to pay.

So all of this makes the rise of Trumplandia even more dire. It makes even more urgent that Congress flip in 2018. But given the shameless nature of the Republicans and the very methods that they actively use to prevent voting, it is a possible there will be no “Blue Wave.” It could be that we’re no longer a democracy at all. It could be that Trump will be proven to be, on an ethical level a traitor, but on a legal level not so much.

As I keep saying, the only thing I can compare this to is Vichy France. That’s the only time in the last 100 years or so where a nation was prostrate to another nation in such a willful manner. Also, if anything shows how we need to stop falloning Trump everytime he makes a stupid typo on Twitter, this is it.

I know it makes us feel better to get a good laugh from the boorish behavior of the president, but we need to wake up. We need to start taking all of this a lot more seriously. Instead of laughing, we should be figuring out more effective ways to combat Trumplandia.

So, as I keep saying, don’t rage, engage. Think of constructive ways you can engage in the political process to help save this nation that we all hold so dear. We no longer have to worry about the prospect of a dystopian future, we now live in a very dystopian present.

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

Tsar-A-Largo: Trump Is A Quisling

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When people are openly talking about the leader of the free world maybe being a Russian agent, we got a problem. But that’s pretty much what one of my favorite writers, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine, is suggesting this piece at the magazine’s website.

What Chait can’t quite figure out, though, is if Trump is a willful participant in treason, or if he’s just so stupid and easily influenced by flattery that it just seems that way.

The latest huge amount of smoke in this growing scandal, which I refer to as Tsar-a-Largo, is the weird backchannel that Trump’s ever-silent son-in-law Jared Kushner wants to setup with the Russians during the transition. It’s all very weird.

The whole thing is murky and there are no easy answers. It is chilling, however, that Trump is pretty much doing exactly what you would think a quisling would do in this situation: he’s trying to destroy the post WWII liberal order that has kept us from all dying in WWIII.

But now we’re having to brace ourselves for some extraordinary times. Some pretty weird things are going to happen in the coming days and there are no easy answers, in large part because the Vichy Republicans simply refuse to do their Constitutional duty and be a check and balance on the presidency.

It’s just not going to happen anytime soon. We’re all very screwed, it seems.

What Do The Russians Have On Trump?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Well, well, well, this is interesting. CNN is reporting that U.S. intelligence agencies overheard the Russians saying they had “derogatory” information on Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Time to pull out this age old favorite:

The CNN report says, specifically:

One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”

But the sources, privy to the descriptions of the communications written by US intelligence, cautioned the Russian claims to one another “could have been exaggerated or even made up” as part of a disinformation campaign that the Russians did during the election.

This is yet another instance of where they’re smoke there’s fire. There comes a point when you have to believe that there may be, in fact, something to all of this Russia stuff. The true sad aspect of it all is that candidate Trump did not even try to hide his Russophila. He was quiet clear that he had a thing for Russia and yet the residents of Trumplandia still voted for him.

That, if nothing else, says that the waters of Trumplandia run deep in the American psyche and it is going to take a lot more than any of us possibly imagine to get rid of Trump. He’s just not going anywhere, potentially for eight years.

We’re going to have to start figuring out ways to mitigate the damage Trump can inflict personally on the Republic. Really, the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is, again: Don’t rage, engage. In other words, don’t just get mad.

There is going to come a point when we’re going to have to stop thinking every time someone disagrees with you that they’re trying to troll you. If we can’t get past that fallacy, we’re all completely fucked.

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 Fall Of The Fallon Empire & The Rise Of Colbert Nation

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When Jimmy Fallon tussled Donald Trump’s hair in 2016, it marked the fall of a late night ratings empire that everyone expected to last for decades. This example of “Falloning” was one of many during the course of the 2016 campaign. It took a lot longer than it should have for people to take Trump, the demagogue, seriously.

Flash forward to 2017, and we live in a weird world where Stephen Colbert is now the late night campaign. Apparently it comes from time-shifting viewers, but still.

With the rise of Colbert Nation in the wake of Trumplandia, it raises some interesting questions. I know, at least from personal experience, that I only watch The Late Show for the monologue. It’s nice to have a place one a day where you get help processing how insane recent events have been. Colbert’s monologue serves a great purpose for American society as a whole and should Trumplandia prosper for a full eight years, it could produce some pretty high ratings for Colbert for years to come.

As I have mentioned before, comedians are at the forefront of American civil society’s reaction to Trumplandia. That, right now at least, is the primary method through which we process the existence of Trumplandia in the first place.

Some observers, however, see the rise of Colbert Nation — and similar popular anti-Trumplandia comics — to have a dark side. They think by being “too mean” to Trump, it causes people who are conservative, but not Trump supporters, to make the conscious decision to throw their lot in with Trump. I don’t know how much to read into this to be true.

Trumplandia is such a cancer on American civil society, that there has to be a point when eventually such arguments will be see as bullshit. It doesn’t work being nice to Trumplandia, to normalize it and they definitely don’t mind people being assholes, so why can’t we give them a taste of their own medicine?

A lot of this has to do with how “serious” commentators simply don’t know what to do with Trumplandia. They want things to go back to the way they were. Vanity Fair, for instance, at one point all but begged the ratings gods to make Jimmy Fallon number 1 again. This revolution caused by the rise of Trumplandia is something we’re going to have to get used to.

What will be interesting to see is what happens should the Tsar-a-Largo scandal grind on for years and finally produce some sort of result that no one can deny. (Yes, that may still be possible despite tribal politics.) When will we run out of jokes and begin to take Trump a lot more seriously than we have in days past.

I think give the earnest edge of Colbert’s monologue we’re about reaching that point. It seems as though people are beginning to wake up to how serious all of this is and soon enough we’ll stop laughing and get down to the serious business of The Resistance.

Fight The Power: Will Trumplandia Force Millennials To Rock?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It goes without saying, at least relative to where I sit, that pop music is pretty boring these days. The closest we have to rock music, oddly enough is not even rock at all: it’s EDM and Rap. The complete absence of rock music of any sort for about 10 years now is really strange.

Which makes me think back to the last time we had really good mainstream music being churned out on a regular basis — the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. Now, I am not suggesting that even the existential threat to the Republic known as Trumplandia could cause, say, a new Beatles to pop up.

But I am suggesting that “woke pop” as practiced by the likes of Katy Perry, might be the first stirrings of something far more significant — “protest pop.” Woke pop is about as subtle as it comes when it comes to talking about issues of the day. It’s like a tap on the shoulder or a wink, when I want more of bitchslap. I guess what I want is a revival of the type of music that Public Enemy was producing back in the day. That was the last time I can think of where you had politics directly spoken about in music, though Rage Against The Machine had elements of it as well.

Yet, as I keep saying in different ways, really all this boils down to the marketplace. Given how docile Americans are in general, it takes a lot to rile them up. The protest music of the Civil Right Era and Vietnam Era happened gradually as 1967’s Summer Of Love became, well, 1968.

Some of what happened during that period obviously had something to do with demographics. The Baby Boomers were hitting the brick wall of the Great Generation’s power in society and they weren’t having any of it. I keep thinking that the current dearth in good music is also the result of demographics. Eventually, at some point, my logic goes, the people who were born around 2000 — Millennials — will pick up an electric guitar and discover the joys of punk or rock or rap or whatever.

But as I keep saying, Americans are extremely docile. It takes a huge amount to rile us up, but once you do, watch out. The question, of course, is Trumplandia unto itself enough to bring back politically charged protest pop. Right now, the jury is definitely out. I just don’t know.

It’s one of those things that could go either way. If Tsar-A-Largo grinds on for years and it becomes pretty obvious to everyone that Donald Trump is, in fact, compromised by the Russians, then it’s possible what I want to have happen, will happen. But nothing comes of it or if Trump leaves office significantly sooner than any of us expect, then we’ll have to continue to suffer bad music.

Really, what has to happen is people start writing protest songs and throwing them against the wall. Eventually one of them might stick and open the floodgates of great music. I guy can hope, can’t he?

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He is a writer and photographer in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Waiting For The Movie Industry To Strike Against Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It takes time for movies to gestate. From conception to release, it is usual about 18 months as best I can understand. So, the fact that there haven’t been any major movies produced that are meant to serve as metaphors for Trumplandia should not be surprising.

As I have mentioned before, that doesn’t mean there isn’t material out there for some great movies. I’m thinking specifically of The Mule portion of The Foundation Saga. It is just too timely for someone not to do something with it. I can think of at least one scene in the novel that would make audiences gasp with how relevant it is in the age of Trumplandia.

And, yet, maybe I’m expecting too much. The Watergate scandal generated pretty much one movie at the time and that was All The President’s Men. I guess I see Trumplandia as even more serious than Watergate. I see it more existential than Watergate. I see it more along the lines of Prohibition or the Vietnam War. That’s why I keep expecting someone to pull out all the stops and do an epic metaphor for Trumplandia like a modern day Apocalypse Now.

But maybe I am expecting too much. Maybe the eerie silence within much of pop culture when it comes to Trumplandia has more to do with economics than any decline and fall of the Republic. From the perspective of the market, you don’t want to offend have the marketplace by taking a stand against Trumplandia.

So, the Tsar-A-Largo scandal will grind on and we’ll having nothing to show for it other than lasting damage to the American body politic and a few hundred thousand jokes. That’s one possibility. And, yet, because of how strong America’s civil society is, I’d like to think the Kraken will eventually be released.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say we’re in a pretty big existential crisis right now in American history and if things got so bad that movie producers felt comfortable churning out movies that were obviously a wink-and-a-nod to our dire political straights, then maybe that might be the type of thing to subtly influence people to hit the streets.

And, yet, things are really up in the air right now. I think the most likely scenario is a particularly “woke” sleeper movie will be produced and it will be a huge success and that will cause other, similar movies to be produced. At least, that’s typically how things have happened in the past.

But we’ll see. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. It could go either way, I guess.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He is a writer and photographer in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

What Hath Trumplandia Wrought: The Seth Ritch Tragedy

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

While generally I think Olivia Nuzzi, at least on Twitter, is one of the more annoying scribes out there, she does deliver a powerful piece on New York Magazine’s website about the tragic attack on the memory of Seth Rich by the forces of Trumplandia.

It continues to blow my mind that anyone with an IQ above room temperature would give the Seth Rich conspiracy theory any credence. It makes my skin crawl even thinking that otherwise “respected” media and political figures would give the Seth Rich conspiracy any respectability.

As Nuzzi writes:

To Trump supporters, Rich came to represent their belief that the president was innocent and the Russia narrative was a creation of the media-deep state industrial complex. Adding fuel to this bewildering fire were claims that Rich had been a secret, devout Bernie Sanders supporter — this, based on curious edits made to Reddit posts from an account belonging to Rich made after he died, and the existence of another Reddit account called “pandas4bernie” (recall the panda suit) that became inactive around the time he died. The people behind “pandas4bernie,” who are also behind a similar Bernie-themed Twitter account, denied Rich was connected to their Reddit, and a coworker of Rich’s told me that although he’d never openly expressed a preference for Sanders, he thought it would be unlikely that Rich was a fan, since the Sanders campaign feuded so publicly with the DNC, something that aggravated everyone there. What’s more, when Rich died, he was planning to move to Brooklyn to work for the Clinton campaign.

If anything gives you insight into the mentality of the typical citizen of that nation of the mind known as Trumplandia, it is the Seth Rich conspiracy. I have spoken to more than one Trumplandia person and they are quick to jump on any conspiracy. One person Trump supporter I’ve spoken to was absolutely sure that the Access Hollywood tape was an elaborate conspiracy on the part of evil liberals to end the Trump campaign.

And, given that Donald Trump himself loves nothing more than a good conspiracy, such bizarre thinking is at the core of the Trumplandia mythos. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest you can’t understand Trumplandia without understanding the psychological underpinnings of the appeal of conspiracy theories. I am no shrink, but obviously Trump has tapped into something by being so ready to believe random conspiracy theories. It obviously helped him politically. Got him the presidency, if nothing else.

One of the interesting takeaways from the article is that Rich wasn’t even all that technologically proficient. As the New York Magazine article puts it:

And for some coworkers, an irony of the entire conspiracy – which hinges on Rich being the one who leaked the DNC documents to Assange’s organization — is that Rich wasn’t much of a tech whiz. “One of the hilarious things about this whole thing was the idea that he was somehow the master hacker behind Wikileaks, is that he was fundamentally, like, not that great of a programmer,” a coworker told me. “He’s like a very smart guy, but he was not — that wasn’t his thing. He wasn’t a computer person first and foremost, he was really interested in politics and solving problems but he came to the computer part as a tool.” Another friend noted on a memorial page that her funny memory of Rich was having to explain to him that his Twitter account, which he used often to complain to companies, was private—which is why those companies never responded to his gripes

But the greatest tragedy of Seth Rich is people like Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich trying to use it as leverage to defend Trump on charges of collusion — or worse collaboration — with the Russians during their meddling in the 2016 election cycle.

I wonder, perhaps, that when it comes to Hannity, this is all an effort to get fired from FOX News so he becomes a martyr for Trumplandia and ends up as Communications Director at the White House, or an anchor for InfoWars. Something like that. Anything, at this point, seems possible.

What I fear is two things. One, I fear that as the Tsar-A-Largo scandal grinds on over the next few months and years, that we will pretty much hear about poor Seth Rich on a constant level until Trump’s fate is decided one way or another.

Additionally, I fear for the safety of John Podesta. I really worry that Trump will pick up on the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and some nutjob will come after Podesta in a physical manner. I really hope I’m being spooked for no reason, but it is something to worry about, given that a crackpot went to Rocket Pizza looking for proof of a conspiracy there.

Anyway, this is not over by a long shot. The stakes are too high and Trumplandia is too deluded for them not to cling on to the Seth Rich conspiracy with all their might, hoping to score as many points and gain as may votes as possible.

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

Keeping Receipts In The Age Of Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

In a sense, we may mark the beginning of the Age of Trump, or Trumplandia as I call it, with the firing of FBI Director James Comey. That marked the moment when Donald Trump used his executive power in a manner we had feared and been warned about.

It was the worse case scenario become reality.

Soon enough, however, we learned that Comey had “kept receipts” of his interactions with Trump and, in a sense, had proof of what Trump had actually done. As Trumplandia continues to morph and expand its reach across the American experience, it’s possible that the notion of “keeping receipts” will grow to have heavy historical import.

What else can you say in this situation, given that we have a president who seems completely disconnected from reality. People who are actually good at their job are now forced to prove that they’re telling the truth, and the only way to do that is to keep receipts.

As an aside, it is interesting the difference between where Twitter is and where the mainstream media is when it comes to Trumplandia. Twitter is like a mob with pitchforks, while most mainstream media outlets take a significantly more measured approach.

If I wanted to get all nerdy and wonky on you, I might suggest that we’ve reached a creeping Singularity of sorts, with the more measured mainstream media simply unable to cope with the speed at which news is breaking. Or maybe I’m overthinking things, it’s something to ponder.

But to go back to the subject at hand, 2017 could eventually be seen as the Year of Receipts. Things have gotten so bad that we now can’t trust anyone in power. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s the world we live in.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He welcomes your comments at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Oh, Come On: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Is Bullshitting Us

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said today on one of the morning talk shows that some of the leaks coming out of the White House could be considered, “darn close to treason.”

I call bullshit on that.

I do so because while yes some of the leaks have caused damage, most of them were the result of people deep inside the government so completely freaked out by the bad behavior of high level Trump officials — I’m looking at you Jared Kushner — that they were willing to risk it.

If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, I don’t know what will.

It will be interesting to see if there are any consquences to all these leaks, in the sense of if any of the people doing them will be found and prosecuted. But we’re all looking at each other and worried that maybe there are traitors working in the White House, I think some pointed leaks are worth it.

These are desperate times, and we may look back at this era of Trumplandia with no little amount of regret if you don’t do something and something quick.