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.

Short Story Draft: Trumplandia

This is a rough first draft of a short story that I hope to turn into a novel about Trumplandia. It’s a decent start, but I continue to struggle with a plot of the scope needed for a novel.
Continue reading “Short Story Draft: Trumplandia”

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.

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation & ‘The Mule’ As A Metaphor For Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is eerie how quiet the movie industry has been when it comes to producing metaphor’s for Trumplandia. It’s weird that no major movie — that I know of — is now in production that is supposed to be the Apocalypse Now of the rule of Trump.

Maybe one is in production right now and I just don’t know about it.

But I would like to gently suggestion that of all the stuff out there for potential creative strip mining there remains one motherload left untouched by the movie industry: The Foundation Saga. Specifically, I am thinking of the subset of the Foundation Saga known as The Mule.

The reason why The Mule is perfect to be turned into a movie is it deals with a comic character who turns out to be the villain. In short, The Mule completely destroys the presumed course of history and I think that would resonate with audiences.

I have heard that at one point HBO was working on turning The Foundation Saga into a TV series similar to Game Of Thrones, but I have not heard any more about it recently.

It’s not like I could do anything about this given that I am not very adept at writing screenplays and I definitely don’t own the rights to any part of the series. So, for the time being, this will be just an idle daydream.

But it would be a shame if nothing came of this.

American Civil Society’s Reaction To Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rise Of Trumplandia & The Prospects Of WWIII

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, when I suggest that the rise of Trumplandia may lead to World War III, what I am saying is it is very possible that there may be two major regional wars at the same time — Ukraine and North Korea. It doesn’t take much to imagine a scenario whereby Donald Trump would lash out at North Korea as his dumpsterfire of an administration goes through its final death rattles.

As this was happening, it might be the final thing that causes Russian President Putin to make a serious landgrab against Ukraine. His forces are already in Ukraine as it is, and now that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Europe is on its own now because of Trumplandia and Brexit, it may just be too much for him. Putin may feel he has a historic, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make his dreams of Novorussya a reality. Or, put another way, there is a very real chance that due to the unique nature of Trumplandia that two regional wars may occur because of misunderstandings.

The America press would notice this and market it as World War III.

What is the most troubling is the state of NATO. There are no assurances that Putin will go after Ukraine in a big way when for him a more attainable conquest might be the Baltic states. If Trump is slobbing the knob of the Russians so bad that he can’t even garner up the moral fiber to defend the Baltic states, then all bets are off. That would call into question the entire liberal order established as a result of WWII.

Meanwhile, though it is pretty obvious that America and her allies would win a renewed war with North Korea, that doesn’t mean it would go in a straight line. Any number of disasters could occur, especially if there was a regional conflict going on in Europe at the same time.

The crux of all of this is Trumplandia itself. We live in extraordinary times, when the traditional American party that was strongest when it came to wanting America to be the moral leader of the free world is completely co-opted by that rotting political corpse of Trumplandia. Not since Vichy France has something so odd happened politically.
That is something that is so bizarre that I doubt we will fully understand it any time soon. It’s just crazy.

So, in the darkness of of Trumplandia we really don’t have much hope. We’re going to have to make our own hope. We’re going to have to resist as best we can. We can only hope that the DPRK won’t perfect the ability to put a nuclear bomb on an ICBM before this horrific scenario I propose comes anywhere close to a reality.

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

The Nature & Origins Of Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, how do we fix this problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germany No Longer Trusts America Because Of Trump: What Could Go Wrong?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The news out of Europe today is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe can no longer rely upon the United States and that it must go it alone from now on.

This is pretty earth shattering stuff in the context of the last 70 years or so. Of all the possible outcomes of Trumplandia, this is got to be up there with worse case. So not only is Donald Trump trying to establish something of an autocracy domestically, internationally he’s managing to fuck things up pretty well, too.

I always thought that things would go down like this: Trump would meet with Russian President Putin at some point and Trump would lift sanctions on Russia while giving Putin the go-ahead to make a major landgrab in Ukraine, if not elsewhere.

While that’s still a possible outcome, it looks as though there was another possibility that I did not imagine: our allies themselves would get fed up with Trump and decide that they could no longer trust the US to back them up on a strategic level.

This may be looked back upon as the moment when Trumplandia force some serious shifts in public policy in ways that none of us could have expect. There is now the very real possibility that there will be no need for Putin to meet Trump face-to-face. Putin could challenge NATO in a major way — first in Ukraine, then elsewhere — knowing Trump will be so busy talking about crowd sizes and leaks that he won’t have the time, nor the inclination, to do anything about it.

Not to get too bombastic, but the entire liberal post-WWII order is beginning to have a few bolts pop off. This is the first real demonstrative sign that the world is now a lot less safe in the age of Trumpandia. It is possible that Putin will feel so embolden by all this that NATO states in the Baltics may be gobbled up without the United States blinking an eye.

I really don’t what to make of all this. This is one of those events that is so heady and potentially significant that we can’t fully comprehend what it all means right now. We’re going to need some time to digest all of this, see how it plays out.

And, remember, we still haven’t had a major international crisis during the age of Trumplandia. It will interesting to see what Trump does — or doesn’t do — when he actually has to be the leader of the free world. My fear is he will totally not be up to the task and what could otherwise be managed with some proactive diplomacy will devolve into something significantly more serious.

Right now, Ukraine and North Korea are the places I am most concerned about. Ukraine, in particular, is a place where the conditions are now ripe for a major land grab by Russian forces. Maybe I’m being too alarmist about that, but history would suggest otherwise.