The Resistance Needs An App To Use Instead Of Twitter

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, I have gone into great detail about my personal vision for a “Twitter killer,” but because I don’t have any money, can’t code and don’t really want to learn, it’s just a daydream. But I can, at least, give some sense of what I think would be effective for The Resistance when it comes to defeating Donald Trump at his own game.

We need a service like Twitter, only better. We need a service that encourages longer, more in depth discussions. Now, I am WELL AWARE that Reddit exists. But I find Reddit too inward looking, difficult to use and from a design standpoint, kind of ugly.

So, I want an app that maybe is a fusion of the old IRC with the old Usenet. That probably makes no sense to most people, but it will to a few people. I have mapped out that vision in great detail on Instagram, but no one has taken me up on it and I should probably just focus on writing my novel.

Anyway.

Snark, Trump Era Zeitgeist & The Resistance’s Need For An Anti-Axios

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Sometimes, the absence of something can oddly be just as noticeable as the presence of something. It wasn’t too long ago — less than 10 years ago — when the nattering nabobs of the New York media world were aflutter over snark, smarm and the the difference between the two.

At the center of this debate was the late, sometimes-not-so-great Gawker Media. It is interesting that Gawker was at its best in the 2003-2004 era when it was new, just starting and was commenting on the early George W. Bush era. It was the age of the Second Iraq War and for people like me, Gawker.com really tapped into the zeitgeist.

It did, at least, for people like me.

In those early years of Gawker as we settled into the long war of Iraq, the site was a place to go and get a good chuckle over the foolishness of it all. In 2004 Wonkette was still under the Gawker Media umbrella at it, too, was really cool. It was really snarky and fun and was talking about stupid shit that the Bush Administration was up to.

But gradually, things changed. Some of it had to do with the loss of focus on the part of Gawker Media founder Nick Denton and some of it had to do with, well, Obama being president. It was difficult to be snarky and mean about how stupid The Powers That Be were when, like, we had a Cool Dad as president. The battle over snark versus smarm was joined and the issue became so muddled that eventually the lights got turned on, the beer drained and the party was definitely over.

Flash forward to now and it seems as though we’ve entered the post-snark era. This is really, really odd because there’s so much to be snarky about. If ever there was something to be unabashedly snarky about, Trumplandia is definitely it. The absence of any real snark as practiced by Gawker.com and before that Spy Magazine and Late Night With David Letterman is a quite a head scratcher.

Some of it, probably has to do with demographics. The people who most likely be the generators of snark — young people — are probably just a little bit too young to reach that 20-25 age era of their life when they want to crack wise at everything. Or not. I don’t know. It is interesting that the closest thing to any kind of protest or snark in pop culture is the pretty bland “woke” pop music you hear every now and again. Pop culture in general really hasn’t changed much since Trump’s victory. There are a few pings here and there of Hollywood getting its act together and helping people process Trump’s ascendance, but not nearly as much as you might think. Some of it is that it takes time to develop scripted material, I know, but still. You’d think they’d fast track that shit or something. Times are kind of desperate.

But there’s no site right now that is tapping into the anger that a lot of people are still feeling from the events of November 2016. What’s weird is, we have Axios. Axios relies upon “access journalism” for its scoops on the Trump Administration and it plays it right down the middle. No snark, no quips, no figurative raised eye brows, no anything. Just plain, boring facts about the insane clown shit-show that is the Trumplandia era. I guess what I’m suggesting is that The Resistance needs it’s own version of Axios. An anti-Axios. Something that does for The Resistance what Axios does for Trumplandia. It would be irreverent, snarky and cool like Spy Magazine was 30 years go.

You’d think that someone, somewhere would see what I see — that there is both an audience and a market for a snarky site like the old Gawker or Wonkette. Something for people like me to read and have the occasional cathartic laugh through. The closest thing we have right now is the podcast company Crooked Media. The only problem with Crooked Media is it always leave me wanting more. I listen to Pod Save America or Pod Save The World and I get so stirred up, so angry that I want to read articles about what they’ve been talking about. But, to date at least, they haven’t started to generate that kind of content. That would be the obvious thing for them to do to take their site to the next level, I must note.

This brings up the interesting idea of what my would be neo-Gawker would be like. In my imagination, it would be a lot like the Gawker.com of 2003-2004, but with a lot more video. Like, I would like most blog posts to have a 2 minute clip from the writer of the post explaining what they have written. I would also like regular video podcasts. Though Trumplandia has caused me to become addicted to podcasts, I think video podcasts are the future. I used to do one on the now defunct Blab platform and it was a lot of fun. If you’re all that interested in what I did, you can samples of my “show” on my YouTube channel.

I have suggested on more than on occasion that of all the existing media companies out there, that Playboy has the biggest vested interest in re-tooling itself as something of a neo-Gawker. I’m sure it’s a lot more difficult for them to do this than I think, but they have the means, motive and opportunity to do as I suggest. They are a legacy brand with a history of progressive leanings and they’re desperate to be relevant again. It would make a lot of sense for them to poach lot of Jezebel.com writers and completely retool Playboy.com to become the site that people like visit to process what is going on with Trumplandia.

Another thing I might suggest is having someone, say, Ilana Glazer, be a roving reporter for the site. I really liked what Gawker did with Julia Allison way back when and it would be fun to recreate that silly experience of having a young, attractive woman running around the streets of New York City having zany hi-jinks. I just think that’s really cool. I really like the concept.

Regardless, maybe the media world has changed to such an extent that what I want simply isn’t possible. It could be that the amount of money needed to start a major blog is now such that the whole endeavor is cost prohibitive. That makes me sad. It would be so much fun to have one site that was the go-to site for The Resistance. Something that really tapped into this anger that many of us are feeling.

I would start such a media company myself — The Trumplandia Report is kind of my vision of what it would look like — but, alas, I don’t have any money and generally no one listens to me. But I need somewhere to vent, so I write here whenever the mood strikes me. I hope that doing my little part for The Resistance helps in some way.

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

It Was Inevitable That Obamacare Was Doomed

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

While Obamacare was a bad bill from the beginning, it was for most people at least a lot better than what existed before. But I’m enough of a student of history to know that it was inevitable that it would be repealed.

Republicans are so surreal in their hatred for everything connected to Obama that once they got power — however long it took — they were going to get rid of the legislation. So, we are on the cusp of just that happening.

So, I don’t know. What will be interesting to see is if once they do repeal it if the pendulum will swing by the other direction and we’ll go to a single payer format. That’s a very real possibility. Though, it’s also very real that we’re just doomed and we’re stuck with this soft dystopia for a few years.

History does not go in a straight line. The good guys don’t always win. So, this could be it. This could be the end of not only Obamacare, but the end of America’s liberal democratic republic. At least, for as long as I live.

When Our Cold Civil War Turns Hot: The Scalise Attack As New Harpers Ferry

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I saw on Twitter that someone out there in the surreal alt-Right echochamber is now openly talking about secession. I have seen several incidences where the bizarre Right that lives beyond InfoWars as suggested that the attack on Rep. Steve Scalise is up there with the Battle of Fort Sumner. That is, at least at this point, kind of grasping at straws. What these people are TRYING to say is that the tragic Scalise incident is something like John Brown’s attack on Harpers Ferry. That makes much more historical sense than the Battle of Fort Sumner, at least at this point.

What’s even more weird is that these bizarre, surreal Right wing nutjobs as blathering about this at a time when they have unprecedented power. There is effectively no check on the presidency and Trump is packing the judiciary with insane, young, whackjobs. So, really, the very people who are so upset with liberals have a vested interest, at least right now, in keeping the Federal government together as-in.

It makes me believe that maybe the only thing stopping open secessionist talk is the fact that Hillary Clinton lost. It makes me think that had Clinton won, one of the first crisis she would have had to address was a honest-to-God secessionist movement. What’s so troublesome is this problem isn’t going away. If you wanted to make a real historical analogy of all this, I might propose that we’re in, say, the 1857 era. We’re in that era of American history where the nation was tearing itself apart. So, should Trump lose in four years, watch out.

So, for the next four to eight years, we’ll be in a slow-mo Cold Civil War that will, in fits and starts, grind towards an actual secession of a few states. The actual make up of such a secessionist crisis is kind of puzzling.

Which states would bolt and why? Would it even be states at all, but rather some sort of coup in a few states? The reason why I suggest the latter is it is much more difficult for, say, South Carolina to bolt the Union because of, well, race. I just can’t see African Americans willingly joining disgruntled whites to leave the Union through some sort of secessionist convention. That leads to the idea of something a bit more violent and scary.

If not some Southern state, then which states would want to leave the Union? My guess is some state in the upper West where there aren’t any minorities. They would do it just out of spite. Though Texas is careening towards a bizarre enough Right wing hellscape that maybe they would be the state to do it.

Really, I just can’t see the Right being able to get enough leverage to start a secessionist crisis because Trump has a vested interest in keeping the government together. He’s much more likely to bend over backwards to give the insane, surreal 35% of the population that would be the most interested in secession everything they wanted. That would then make the whole situation moot.

That raises the issue of the center-Left seceding. I just don’t see that happening. While there was talk of California bolting the Union, that has subsided dramatically. That, then, raises the issue of why would the surreal Right be so fixated on leaving the Union despite getting everything they wanted.

That’s a tough one. I don’t have any answer to that. It would be a great historical irony if there was a secessionist crisis under Trump. The most likely scenario of that happening would be if in four or eight years a center-Left presidential candidate won. THEN, I could see Trump presiding over the dissolution of the Union quite easily.

But would there be a Second Civil War at all? Is it possible that we’re so divided that the “wayward sisters” that wished to leave the Union — whichever states they may be — would be allowed to “part in peace?” So, a lot of it would boil down to leadership. It could go either way. Either the Blue states bolt and join Canada or the Red states blot under a center-Left president and there (might) be a “hot” civil war. I’m not suggesting that a center-Left president would be more bloodthirsty, but I do think a center-Left president would be more likely to fight for the survival of the Union.

Regardless, we should all keep an eye on the surreal, bizarre extreme Right. That’s where tomorrow’s talking points for the Republican Party come from and before you know it secessionist talk may be something we all have to deal with.

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

The Struggle Is Real Redux, Yet More Mulling A Novel

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I am now struggling directly to tell the story of the high concept speculative fiction satire I’ve come up with and the specific story of ROKon Magazine. The only reason why ROKon Magazine’s story is important is, well, it’s the only plot I have.

So, I don’t know. I know the more I tell the ROKon Magazine story literally, the easier it is to write the novel. But the more I do that, the more muddled the high concept aspect of the novel becomes. So, there is a balance I have to strike.

But I am really passionate about both aspects of the story, so I am willing to do the work needed to integrate them. It is going to take a while, though. It is going to require some real fancy footwork writing-wise on my part.

The Struggle Is Real: Writing A Novel Is Hard

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I find myself looking at my blank page, struggling to write an outline. I know the general story I want to tell, but the individual scenes are difficult. I have stumbled across a pretty good system for writing an outline — I do it in longhand with a Sharpie — so it’s just a matter, really, of taking the risks needed to get the story down.

As I have written before, I have pretty much only one plot to my name. The rise, and fall, and rise of the magazine I started 10 years ago with a young lady named Annie Shapiro. It has taken me about 10 years to figure out that I probably can’t literally tell the story of the magazine.

But we’ll see. It seems the closer to get to telling the literal story of ROKon Magazine, the easier it will be to tell the story overall. But I have to give it all a huge amount of thought. I have to figure out how to take something that happened on a very small scale and how to make it huge and epic so people will be interested.

It is going to take a lot of thinking, regardless.

The Resistance & Trump’s ‘Malevolence Tempered by Incompetence’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I will admit that I was white hot angry for month after Donald Trump won in November because of the political rhetoric coming out of the Trump campaign. It seemed as though Trumplandia was going to be a fascist state and that was going to be that.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Reichstag Fire.

It turns out, Trump is such an incompetent administrator that in the immortal words of Lawfare Blog, Trumplandia’s political power was “malevolence tempered by incompetence.” So, while Trump definitely has autocratic leanings — he definitely wants to be one, at least — he just doesn’t have the mental wherewithal needed to do it.

So, while Trump is like a bizarre version of Chancy Gardner in Being There, he simply doesn’t have the mental focus to actually make himself a quasi-autocrat. So, what’s happening is American civil society, while put off balance by Trump’s victory, is slowly, every so slowly beginning to figure out how to address the Trumplandia conundrum.

Thus, to draw upon a World War II analogy, Hitler would have probably have taken over the world, but for his own personality quirks, foibles and failings. Trump’s efforts to co-op the Establishment in a weird Vichy America scenario only got as far as the Republicans who are pretty much completely complicit at this point.

Now, there we can’t take too much comfort in Trump’s sheer incompetence. Trump really wants to do serious damage and from what I can tell, he’s well on his way to doing just that by packing the Federal bench with complete nut jobs. The way things are going, within 20 years, all those young insane Federal judges will make A Handmaid’s Tale look like a documentary. And that doesn’t begin to address other factors. A major terrorist attack on US soil, or a disastrous weather event or a wag the dog war with Iran or North Korea would allow Trumplandia to grow and expand in power virtually overnight. No amount of incompetence on Trump’s part would save us then. We would really be on our own then.

I would then suggest that The Resistance use the breathing room afford by Trump’s complete inability to seal the deal when it comes to establishing Trumplandia to organize, organize, organize. We need to stay engaged and we need to use whatever personal skills we may have to help the cause. We have to stay forever vigilant. If you’re a good writer, then write a screenplay about Trumplandia. If you have money, contribute to a the campaign of a Democrat in a flip-able district or State.

One thing I worry about is the possibility that should there be a major terrorist attack on American soil that the Internet will be the first victim. I’m concerned that something we take for granted now — ready access to the Internet, will end. Things like a national PIN service for using the Internet is something I’m sure Trump might think up.

If you really want to get paranoid there is the chance that Trump might use a terrorist attack or a wag the dog war as an excuse to do something otherwise unimaginable — change the Constitution itself. There is already a move afoot to call a Constitutional Convention it just seems to much like something Trump might latch on, given the opportunity.

We just can’t be lulled into a false sense of security. The Resistance has to be creative in the ways it holds the line against creeping fascism. Being innovative with technology and the arts seems like something that would really help the situation. Someone designing a “Twitter Killer” might be a way to starve Trumplandia of media oxygen.

But I don’t know. We have to be careful. We have to stay engaged. We can’t allow ourselves to get burnt out in our outrage. This is going to be a long struggle, one that could take the better part of a decade to complete.

Why ‘Fake News’ Is A Danger To The Republic

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

At the center of any republic is the idea that the center-Left and the center-Right can agree on our sources of information. The notion of “fake news,” which is really just old fashion propaganda re-purposed for a modern age, is so corrosive and destructive because is makes it so we can’t agree on our sources of information.

While I try to engage as best I can with people who disagree with me, if you call The New York Times “fake news,” I really see no need to continue to talk to you. You are not being intellectually honest. If you rely solely upon the Right Wing bullshit echo chamber for you new and see that as “real news,” then there really isn’t much point in us discussing anything political.

Thus, fake news strikes at the heart of political debate. If I say Donald Trump is a racist and use to back up my point news from The New York Times and you think The New York Times is fake news, it takes a lot for me not to tell you to just fuck off.

That’s not what I should do at all. I should press the person to engage me more, but it’s difficult. When someone is so delusional that they think a publication as prestigious as The New York Times is “fake news,” I honestly don’t know what to say.

That, really, is why this New Normal of Trumplandia of so horrible. The damage of Trump to the republic may be significantly more long-lasting that any of us dare imagine.

Trump As A Celebrity, Redux

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It really gets on my nerves that some people refuse to accept and acknowledge that Donald Trump was a celebrity under both the most narrow and the most broad use of that word. These center-Right people can’t do it, they try to downplay it, because if they don’t they then have to accept that Left-leaning celebrities had a right to give their opinion in the 2016 election.

You can debate all you like the merits of Hillary Clinton as a candidate, but to her defeat means center-Left celebrities should keep their political views to themselves — WHEN YOU VOTED FOR A CELEBRITY — really blows my mind.

I guess the reason why this is such a pet peeve for me is it is such a obvious ignoring of some cold hard facts that I, myself, experience, that it causes some serious cognitive dissidence on my part. I want these people to admit that they are being hypocrites. I don’t want them to say it’s ironic, I want them to actually say what is so glaringly obvious: to suggest that center-Left celebrities shouldn’t give their opinion is hypocrisy.

It’s all very tragic. I will never get what I want and so this pet peeve simmers in my mental juices. I just want to hear that word, hypocracy, so bad. But I really need to accept that I will never hear it. I just have to give up on that particular issue.

The Resistance Has To Accept The New Normal Of Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is too easy for members of The Resistance to get caught up in the moment and think that Donald Trump is going to resign or be impeached and convicted anytime soon. If the Washington scandals of the past are any indication, we have, at least, a year of this imbroglio ahead of us, if not far longer.

The American system of government is such that it really is nearly impossible to impeach and convict a president. It just doesn’t happen. And, really, given how partisan things are and how complicit the Vichy Republicans are in TrumpRussia, even if collusion is proven between Trump “satellites” and the Russians, there is a real chance that the Vichy Republicans will just shrug and tell us that the truth is now known and we should just move on.

That doesn’t begin to address the very real possibility that a year from now when the mythical “blue wave” seems about to come crashing down on Congress, that Trump may address the nation, apologize and admit to what happen then pardon and fire everyone involved and ask the nation to move on. He did something similar during the Access Hollywood tape incident and there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again. When he knows he’s trapped, when he knows there is absolutely no way out other than apologize, he has no problem doing just that. A lot of people on the center-Right would be appeased and because of gerrymandering, it’s possible that would be enough to prevent the Congress from flipping. That doesn’t even begin to address a major terrorist attack or a wag the dog type war with Iran or North Korea.

One thing that really bothers me is how some on the Right say they want to vote for Trump again even more whenever people like me get upset and outraged over something Trump has done. It makes it very difficult for us to have any type of discussion at all.

Another thing that really bothers me is that even if I should get what I want — which is Trump’s impeachment and conviction — the very moment it becomes obvious that that, in fact, will happen, there will be the “Pence pivot” on the part of Republicans and they will say they wanted Mike Pence to be president all along. It is a very sad commentary on how things are these days that we have to deal with such surreal partisan ways of thinking.

At this point, we just don’t know how history will look at this point in time. It could be that it will be seen as a hiccup like Iran-Contra, or it could be see as something significantly more important like Watergate. We just don’t know. We are in the middle of a bizarre and unprecedented era. This new normal is taking some getting used to because the center-Right wants to keep re-litigating the 2016 election and the Obama years, while the center-Left just stays apoplectic over the latest incredibly bonkers thing that Trump has done.

As such, it is very possible that Trump will not only survive, but prosper. The Resistance could be split in 2020 and he could walk right through the middle of it. Trump is a moron, but he’s strangely politically adept in a ways that I don’t fully understand. So The Resistance really, really needs to stop getting outraged so quickly and so often and focus on the real issues at hand, not the scandal outburst of the moment. It’s too easy to get distracted from the horrific things Trump is doing policy wise because of the latest shiny bauble of an outrage.

Having said all of this, The Resistance as part of this New Normal needs to keep an eye on what’s really at stake. Trump is forcing through completely bonkers people to be put on the Federal bench, Obamacare is being replaced with secret legislation and overall it seems as though 20 years from now the consquences of Trumplandia will only slowly be understood.

All I can say is what I always say at this point — stay engaged. Don’t get worn down by Trumplandia. Don’t tune out. Don’t let it all become white background noise. Stay focused. We’re going to have to suffer for a few years, but hopefully, despite everything, we can eventually get things to swing back to some sort of normal situation again.

But maybe not. It could be, like Watergate, that TrumpRussia will usher in a new, dark period in our political history that will reverberate for decades to come. That is something we really need to take into consideration. It’s very possible that that is what is going to happen. That is painful to think about, but it’s very real possibility.

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