Blaming The Media For The Scalise Incident In Alexandria Is Bonkers

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Bonkers.

Just Bonkers.

Donald Trump specifically and the extreme Right in general has been rhetorically using violence-lace rhetoric for years now and they have the gaul to blame liberals and the media for what happened today in Alexandria to Rep. Scalise.

I don’t want to be outraged. I really don’t. I want to engage. I want to address the people who think like this, I want to engage them. But it’s difficult. It is so very difficult. They are so ardent, so completely bonkers in their surreal determination to have it both ways that it’s nearly impossible to have normal political discussion with them.

The people on the Right who believe the root of all evil comes from liberals and the media are so tightly wound, so quick to believe any insane conspiracy theory that it’s really is nearly impossible to have a rational discussion with them. They are the political equivalent of a cornered cat you’re trying to give a bath to.

It just isn’t going to work out for anyone involved.

The raises the question: is there anything we can do at all? Are we all just doomed?

That is a good and painfully timely question. If we can’t figure out to get passed all the bullshit and address the gaping divide between the two sides then Trump and Trumplandia will not only survive but prosper. We you love America, you’re going to have to face the cold hard fact that those insane Right wing people who won’t listen to you are eventually going to have to be dealt with in a constructive fashion beyond simply blocking them on Twitter.

The two sides can only hold up in their individual “safe spaces” for so long before everything falls apart and we either have an actual civil war or something dystopian and sinister happens, something far worse than what we have right now.

But it’s tough. I understand that. I know it’s tough for me. I don’t really want to do as I suggest. I just want to get mad and rage against every stupid thing the extreme Right says. I wish I could give you some ready answers, but I can’t.

The closest I can give you is some suggestions as to where all this came from. I think three factors, each of which feed on each other, are at work. One, Baby Boomers are turning into old codgers. Two, technology is allowing us to have “safe spaces” so our political skins are really thin. Third, Donald Trump has tapped into a dark, scary aspect of the American psyche that I don’t fully understand.

That’s a beginning. The solution to our problems will be found once we figure out how to address those issues. We can’t get rid of old codger Baby Boomers, but maybe we can do something with technology to address the problems Twitter has introduced.

And then there’s Trump.

His mercurial personality is so difficult to get a hold of, that I just don’t know what to say. He’s really difficult to understand for no other reason than he seems able to hold to contradictory political beliefs in his head quite easily without addressing the underlining hypocrisy and paradox.

Anyway. I guess only time will tell, folks. Just remember to try, at least to engage, not rage.

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

The Struggle Is Real (Redux): How To Address Trump In Art

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I am struggling to write a novel that addresses, head on, this new era of Trumplandia that we live in. It’s kind of a scifi satire, of sorts, and I just when I think I’ve figured out how I’m going to write is, Trump does something so batshit insane that I realize it’s much more difficult than expect to do anything with all of this.

I guess the reason why I’m having trouble grappling with Trumplandia is it seems ever-changing, ever shifting in is exact nature. There’s no set ideology and so it’s difficult to figure out how to satirize it. it’s difficult to take it to its logical extreme when you don’t know what it is in the first place.

But this brings up the broader issue of how art can and should address Trump. As I have written several times before, it seems as though the art world is so busy raging against Trumplandia that it isn’t actually producing much art that helps us process it.

What’s worse, when art does do things to help us process this weird, tragic, bizarre era we are in — like, for instance Shakespeare In The Park — the Right loses its shit. The Right is so absolutely hell bent on establishing an autocracy in the United States, they are so humorless and mean spirited, that nothing less than absolute devotion to the Dear Leader, Donald J. Trump, in all aspects of society can be tolerated.

It’s all very sad.

It’s also kind of unnerving. Art is something that despots of all stripes want to control or destroy and the fact that Donald Trump now that he’s in power can’t handle it is disturbing to say the least. That quality is another aspect of all of this that makes it so difficult to get a grasp on.

As I understand it, before Trump went nuts later in life, he was something of a patron of the arts in the New York City area. Weird. Just too weird. Don’t understand what happened. Something happened to Trump over the last 20 years that is inexplicable. He turned from a self-aware celebrity to a ranting, conspiracy theory loving unhinged madman.

Really, I guess I’m trying to do my part with my novel. I’m trying to channel what artistic ability I may have into something productive art-wise. As I have mentioned before, the big dogs seem rather quiet about Trumplandia. Though I am heartened by the notion that there are here and there a few signs that Hollywood and Broadway are beginning to do the art that we need right now.

I still think Hollywood should do something with The Mule part of The Foundation Saga. That is really weirdly timely in this era of Trumplandia. And, as I have mentioned before elsewhere, there are any number of different other works of art that could be used to address Trump. It’s just a matter of someone doing it.

It will be interesting to see when the protest songs will begin to pop up. Though there have been a few “woke” pop songs produced since Trump came to office, none of the has gone full protest. I think it’s going to be one of those things that we may have to wait until Trump — God forbid — wins re-election and everyone is weary of Trumplandia before we’ll get any real protest art.

Anyway, like I said, I’m doing my part. It’s a struggle, but I’m at least trying. In some ways, it’s a lot of fun working on a novel that deals so directly with the zany nature of Trumplandia. We’ll see what happens, I guess.

‘Drain The Swamp’ — Lyrics To A Woke Country Pop Rock Song

These lyrics are meant to be a homage to Lynyrd Skynard’s Swamp Music and Charlie Daniels’ Uneasy Rider. That’s the goal, at least. I don’t really have a beat, but in my imagination it’d be something country rock in its stylings. Maybe a little funky too.

Drain The Swamp
lyrics by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls
please give credit if you produce or perform

ol Trump tells me
tells me all the time
that he’s going to drain the swamp
drain the swamp, drain the swamp

I look all around
all I see is swamp creatures
making their way down D.C. way
got me singing the blues

[chorus]
when are we going to drain the swamp
like I keep being told
when are we going to drain the swamp
am I being played for a fool
all I want is someone to
drain the swamp
drain the swamp
drain the swamp

the people know when they’re being lied to
we know what to do
we know what to do
come election time
we’re going to ride the blue wave
getting in there someone new

[chorus]
when are we going to drain the swamp
like I keep being told
when are we going to drain the swamp
am I being played for a fool
all I want is someone to
drain the swamp
drain the swamp
drain the swamp

[bridge]
people tell just wait and see
give ol Trump a chance
believe me I have
but that time has been had

the swamp is going to be drained
soon enough
soon enough
soon enough
but only once ol Trump is thrown
out on his butt

‘Eve’ — Lyrics To A Woke Pop-Rock Song

I feel inspired because, well, my little summer breeze of a celebrity crush of the moment is Eve Peyser of Vice Magazine. She’s beautiful and she inspires me, and I’m looking for different angles to me complaining about Trumplandia, so you get this. These lyrics are a homage to “Levon” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. I like how it tells a story and this is kind of me trying to tell the story of this tragic day when people seem to be getting shot left and right. This probably has a little bit too much of Levon built into its structure, but that could be fixed with someone serving as co-writer and the light touch of a good composer.

Eve
lyrics by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls
please give credit if you produce or perform

Eve stands in her new apartment’s little room
checking her computer now and then
to see if we’re still standing or not
things seem to be falling down all around

Eve lives in Brooklyn at the center of it all
her thoughts are jarred now and again by the news
we interrupt this breaking news for more breaking news

chorus
Eve is worried about our fate
Eve is worried that we’re on thin ice
Eve hopes we make it through this dark time
maybe wisdom will prevail

things are dire it’s true
but Eve has a plan to make things work out at last
she’s going to do her part
to keep things together
it may be just a walk in the park

now she takes a sip of wine
smiles again at her small little room
the one she fits in so perfectly
wondering at the fate
that brought it to her life

chorus
Eve is worried about our fate
Eve is worried that we’re on thin ice
Eve hopes we make it through this dark time
maybe wisdom will prevail

[bridge]
the future is never set
maybe we’d defeat hate just yet
she says with a sigh
things might just work out fine

the day isn’t over yet
so maybe it can end well
just yet
just yet
just yet

‘Brooklyn’ — Lyrics To A Woke Folk-Pop Ballad

I saw a picture of Eve Peyser of Vice Magazine in her new apartment on Twitter and she said she fits perfectly in a “strange small room” perfectly. Her obvious beauty and wit has inspired me yet again and given that I am _assuming_ that the apartment is in Brooklyn, I decided to write a poem-meant-to-be-sung about the picture. Given that I have Trumplandia on the brain, it’s “woke” as well. But this is meant to be a homage to Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.” Or that song “Budapest.” It’s supposed to tell a story about a place. That’s the goal, at least. This is, as always a first draft. Like “America,” there’s no traditional chorus. Your vocalist would have to figure out where the emphasis would be.

Brooklyn
lyrics by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls
please give credit if you produce or perform

she fits in a strange small room
in her new Brooklyn apartment
perfectly
her broad smile belies
the reign of the mad king
the one we all think about and wince
though for a moment she’s at peace

Brooklyn is the center of it all
her new apartment with its strange small room
the one she fits in so well
leaves us all to pause
to dwell on the meaning of it all

the streets of Brooklyn hum
with the busy people brooding on vice and sin
their voices can be heard to Montreal
maybe in French if they have the gaul

Eve with the raven hair
with her lovely countenance
makes Helen green with envy
it all happens in her new apartment
it all happens in her new apartment
it all happens in her new apartment
the one with the strange small room

Cold Civil War: Steve Scalise’s Attack & A Possible Future ‘Reichstag Fire’ Event

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is very tragic that apparently a “Burnie Brah” was responsible for the senseless attack today on Rep. Steve Scalise and others. It raises a serious, scary issue though. If the Right is so quick to politicize an event like this where fortunately no one was too terribly hurt, imagine the consquences of an actual dramatic, violent and political event in this age of Trumplandia.

In other words, are we careening towards the conditions being right for the Dear Leader, Donald Trump, using a a major “Reichstag Fire” like event to attack civil liberties in a consequential manner? That is kind of deep. There are any number of possible scenarios one could map out.

It seems as though the weakest part of our modern civil society right now is the Internet. It isn’t too much to imagine Trump might seek to significantly regulate the Internet in an additional manner. Maybe a national PIN code to use it? A national “kill switch?”

And that’s just the high tech things Trump might push through should there be a major terrorist attack or another unhinged Bernie Brah does something tragic. We are in unprecedented times and I fear that anything may be on the table now.

What’s more, it seems as though Trump is baiting with all his might something like that happening. It really seems like he wants a major terrorist attack to take place. He certainly is doing everything in his power to make sure it happens. Important security roles remain unstaffed. He uses the power of the presidential bully pulpit to stoke fear and division in the populace.

All of this may be coming to a head.

And remember, we’re not even in the 2018 mid-term election cycle yet. Given that flipping Congress may be the only way to fix this problem, the forces of fear, paranoia and division than make Trump strong will double, triple their efforts to disrupt civil society and free and fair elections.

There’s just nothing we can do right now, it seems. Just nothing. We’re headed towards a dark and dangerous future and really all we have is our personal ability to engage. We really need to stop raging and begin to engage. We need to exercise our rights of free speech and public assembly while we still have them.

We have a madman as president and things are only going to get worse.

It’s all very tragic and I wish I could give you some quick, simple answer to all of this. But I can’t. We’re just going to have to continue to demand that our civil rights aren’t trampled upon. Once the inevitable Reichstag Fire event does happen, the real work of The Resistance will begin.

That’s when we’re all going to find ourselves having to deal with personal decisions we never imagined we’d have to make. We can’t get the EU to help us out of this bind. It will depend upon The Resistance to work towards justice. I might recommend setting up some snail-mail Committees of Correspondence just in case the worse happens.

It’s one way to at least sow the seeds of justice during a dark time.

‘(I Don’t) Recall’ — Lyrics To A Woke Pop Song

As you may know, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “I don’t recall” and “I don’t remember” a lot during his recent testimony in front of Congress. These lyrics are a reference to that. In my imagination, the music to this would be something akin to Tove Lo’s Habits (Stay High). Her song’s lyrics are much more complex than this, but this is a pretty good beginning.

(I Don’t) Recall
lyrics by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

you’re rush’n ’round town
asking all we know if I’m some kind of clown
you ask me all kinds of questions
looking for the truth
I look at you in the eye
with a sigh
say repeatedly what can be seen
I don’t mean to be mean
but baby leave me be

I don’t remember
I don’t recall
I don’t remember
I don’t recall

we’re all lying to each other
these days
want me to testify to the truth
when at this point
even I don’t know what’s real
did I cheat
when I went rush’n ’round town
up to you decide
’cause I’m going to invoke
my rights
to protect my delights

I don’t remember
I don’t recall
I don’t remember
I don’t recall

[bridge]
we’re all looking for the facts
we hope the truth will arrive
but I promise you I don’t recall
just don’t know what to say

I don’t remember
I don’t recall
I don’t remember
I don’t recall

Civil Cold War: Steve Scalise’s Alexandria Shooting In The Age Of Trump

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The more I think about it, the more it seems pretty obvious that what a growing number of people are seeing as a “Civil Cold War” is really more a president’s era is a reflection of his or her personality. Since Donald Trump is a nut job, we have crazy thing happening on a nearly daily basis.

Let me take a moment to note that apparently Shakespeare In The Park has been doing updated Julius Caesar productions with the president of the moment filling in for the traditional depiction of Caesar for something like a decade and only this time around was there a problem. That’s example of what I’m talking about. When the president and his followers think the world is out to get them, they warp the world around them.

So, let’s address the tragic events in Alexandria. It seems as though there is a lot of “fake news” floating about the event. We don’t know for sure if the shooter asked if the participants in the softball match were Democrats or Republicans yet. We just don’t know.

But that hasn’t stopped people from assuming the worst, from freaking out. Then they turn to the dumb thing Kathy Griffin did with the squatty potty or Shakespeare In The Park and say, “Look, look what those damn liberals did.” It makes you wonder where all that rage is coming from, what existential issue is causing people to hate liberals so much. What do they want, for everyone to be forced to watch Keith Urban videos until the End Times?

I guess I think maybe there are two things at work that are feeding off of each other. On one hand, you have long-term issues in the collective American psyche. People are on the Right have gone beyond the surreal in their rage against liberals and the center-Left. That rage is such that it leaves me scratching my head. Meanwhile, the personality of the Dear Leader, Donald Trump, only feeds into this horrible situation and takes American civil society to the breaking point.

The combination of those two things has resulted in the Cold Civil War we are now in. And, sad to say, this Cold Civil War will grind on for as long as Trump is president. The complete civil meltdown in the United States right now between Trumplandia and The Resistance will go on for as long as Trump is president. And given how insanely conservative Mike Pence is, this era could go on much longer, and have much more devastating consquences than any of us ever imagined.

There’s no easy answer. That combination of general trends in our nation’s political history combined with Trump’s personal quirks will haunt us for decades. These are intractable problems. So, the events in Alexandra are tragic and unfortunate and I regret that they happened. But they could be the tip of the ice burg. We could see a smattering of such events here and there for four or eight more years.

I have suggested before that one way to fix these problem would be through technology. Maybe if Silicon Valley took just enough time to stop funding AR and VR to look into fixing the problems associated with Twitter with a new startup that did just that, maybe we could mitigate some of the issues we’re experiencing now. I have gone into great detail about my vision for such a service using Instagram, but I will give you some general thoughts now because it’s relevant.

We need a service that helps give content providers the feeling that they have a vested interest in using the service. So, in that sense, I could see this as an opportunity to disrupt the newspaper business as well as ameliorate some of the titanic issues facing the American Republic right now. Meanwhile, you would make at the core of such a service threaded discussion based on full pages posts. This may sound just like Reddit, but the vision I have is more an update of the old Usenet form of online discussion than anything else.

I propose this because maybe if a social media start up assumed you would write more than just 140 characters, and you did so in the context of a threaded discussion, maybe, just maybe, things would be a little bit better than they are now. A man can hope, right?

But we really need to address the origin of this Cold Civil War we’re in. If we engage each other instead of throwing rhetorical shit at each other, then maybe we can rise above this horrible situation we’re in. But, alas, I fear not until Trumplandia is defeated politically will that happen. Trump is simply too powerful right now and that power grows every time there is something outrageous that happens that divides people. Trump was voted in because he promised change and he’s doing just that.

But not for the better. Not at all for the better.

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

Playboy Should Position Itself As The Anti-Axios

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have spoken at length about this before, but I really enjoy this topic, so I will come at it from a slightly different angle. I have written about how I think a startup blog should try to be the Spy Magazine-like Anti-Axios of our day. A neo-Gawker, if you will.

And, yet, I suspect that due to the changing nature of the broader Internet, that’s just not going to happen. No one with the means, motive and opportunity is going to invest in such an idea simply because Twitter exists and the blog universe has become so large and saturated that it would be difficult for such a person to see any immediate ROI. Or something like that.

So I turn my attention, again, to Playboy.

It just makes too much sense for Playboy to throw everything up in the air and completely switch gears. It makes too much sense for it to hire a bunch of Jezebel writers and turn Playboy.com into the biting political site that we’ve all been looking for. I really enjoy what The Atlantic has been producing and Crooked Media does a good job, but it is, to date, a podcasting company. It just doesn’t seem all that interested in doing what I want.

But Playboy not only has an existing audience, it has a name brand that is already associated with liberal progressive causes. And it’s really, really desperate to be relevant again. Doing as I suggest would do just that. It would really get people buzzing again about the brand and I feel the market would be there, as well.

It’s possible, though, that what I want is not something a legacy brand can provide. It could be that only a startup could do it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for someone to see what I see. Maybe they never will.

Meh.

In This Cold Civil War, The Firing Of Bob Mueller Would Be Fort Sumter

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

While I think a lot of the talk about the potential firing of Bob Mueller is simply white noise to distract us from the numerous ways that Donald Trump is facilitating some pretty horrible things happening to the Republic, it’s pretty clear that it could happen.

If it did happen, it would take my personal engagement in all of this to the next level. I would go back to the white hot rage that I felt on Nov. 9th. In practical terms, that means I would figure out some way to use what few talents I have to do my part to help The Resistance. I might even actually protest instead of just take pictures of people protesting.

The significance of Trump firing Mueller would be it would be the moment that this Cold Civil War lurched into the battle royale of a full fledged Cold Civil War. It would be the end of the beginning, if you will. I compare it to the firing on Fort Sumter by Confederate Forces. Or maybe The Battle of Britain. It would be the moment when everyone stood up and took notice that the two sides weren’t playing games anymore.

If anything, the fact that we’re talking about this at all is a sign everyone realizes we’ve entered a new, dangerous phase of this chronic, slow moving Constitutional Crisis. We just don’t honestly know one way or another if Trump would fire Mueller and that’s exactly what he wants. He wants to keep us on edge and in an state of uncertainty to such an extent that we can’t land a punch.

But remember, the Vichy Republicans won’t do anything if Trump fires Mueller. And that’s what this is all about. Trump is sounding out the Vichy Republicans to see if they’ll object and….I just don’t know. I just don’t know what will happen.

I have my doubts that Trump will fire Mueller. I really do. I think it’s possible, but unlikely. But we’ll see I guess. In hindsight it might seem obvious that he would and the battle will, at last, be enjoined.