From The Publisher: Thanks, Twitter, For Screwing Me Over

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, the fact that Twitter is making it more difficult for me to market this site by DMing people on Twitter is probably good for the service in general, but it definitely makes my efforts at building this site a lot more difficult.

I have a pretty good vision for this site, but I simply don’t have the resources to do anything with it to the extent that maybe I otherwise would. I just don’t have the money. There is definitely an audience and a market for what I propose with this site, but the strategy I imagined originally — marketing the site to “thought leaders” on Twitter is now moot.

And, again, while it makes a sense for Twitter to impliment this feature, in a way some of the charm of Twitter is gone. It was fun to think that you might, just might, be able to talk to a powerful person in a direct way using Twitter and those days are now, sadly, over.

I guess it was inevitable that this would happen, but that’s life.

A Vision For Saving Newspapers In The Trumplandia Era

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It appears as though if nothing else, Trumplandia has sparked a fierce newspapers battle between The New York Times and The Washington Post. But the long-term survival of the newspaper business continues to be up in the air. While those two newspapers are well financed, the industry as a whole continues to struggle.

I have written at great length about how I would save the newspaper business and for various reasons, I will try to do a quick recap here. Though, I must note that I know no one listens to me and I’m kind of shouting into the void as things stand.

One thing that is clear is the newspaper business is ripe to be disrupted. But, if I was going to disrupt it, I would disrupt it from within. One of the reasons no one has figured out how to disrupt the newspaper business already is it’s a tough nut to crack give its social component.

But let’s talk a little bit about how you might do it.

To me, to disrupt the newspaper business, you need to re-imagine newspapers altogether. Instead of coming at it from a tech angle and hiring a lot of young reporters on the cheap then throwing algorithms at the problem, I would buy a few regional newspapers — they’re pretty cheap n real terms now — and then go from there.

Now, if you had a big chunk of change to play with — say upwards of a $100 million, I buy a company like Tronc which owns The Chicago Tribune and The LA Times and hook the entire chain up to something that aimed to be a Twitter Killer. Because I think given how desperate things are for the newspaper business, only by embracing social media in a full throated manner can newspapers possibly expect to thrive.

What, exactly, would the feature set of this Twitter Killer look like?

I have go into great detail as to what I think it would look like elsewhere — most notably on my Instagram account — but let’s do it again real quick.

First, you’d have Sections. These would be your typical newspapers sections and would help group content produced by your reporters.

Second, you’d have Groups. This is where things get interesting because only verified account holders could make Groups. Groups would be similar to the old Usenet Newsgroup in that they would contain threads, though in this scenario I call them Discussions.

Discussions would allow your reporters to post articles that people could inline edit in the context of a threaded discussion. It wouldn’t have to be a newspaper article, but that would be one option. There would be a robust live chat feature similar to Slack, but for the masses. It would be archive and searchable.

This concept only works if you buy up a bunch of newspapers and give them something akin to a national footprint. That’s why you might also use this concept with Time Inc., given that it is a national brand.

But, regardless, it’s probably too late to impliment this concept for various reasons. Chief among them being VR and AR are where all the money is these days and it’s doubtful you could get the investment needed to pull this off.

I still think, though, that if you did Twitter one better that something pretty cool could happen. Twitter is the center of the national and global debate these days and yet it has a horrible interface and a sharp learning curve in some respects.

Produce a better mousetrap, if you will, and maybe something cool would happen.

This is more of a general talk about issues of the day, but it’s worth a watch.

Trumplandia Has Caused A Global Leadership Vacuum

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is self-evident that Donald Trump has caused an enormous leadership vacuum globally. For about 70 years, the world has relied upon the United States for moral leadership.

No longer.

Now, there is a mad scramble to find out who is going to fill the void caused by Trump being not only obviously unhinged, but a Russophile and an ardent admirer of autocrats across the planet. The chilling thing is, this has happened in the absence of a major international crisis.

God only knows what might happen should Putin make a major landgrab in Ukraine or the DPRK attack South Korea. And should both things happen at the same time, we’re going to be faced with the very real possibility of something at least marketed at World War III happening.

To put another way, the unprecedented nature of the Trump Administration is now beginning to be not just a domestic crisis, but an international one as well. The election of Trump in conjunction with Brexit means the global liberal order that we’ve come to expect is now unraveling before our very eyes. All of this doesn’t happen in a vacuum, there could be some very real consquences to Trump being completely temperamentally unqualified to be the leader of the free world.

It doesn’t seem possible that Putin would let the opportunity poised by Trump to go unexploited. I feel like we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Trump is simply unable, on a personal level, to engage in the fine art of diplomacy. He is simply too crass to understand theh nuance that is at the core of international diplomacy. It takes a moral core to be able to stand up to a thug like Putin and Trump has made it painfully clear that he would rather slob Putin’s knob on a geopolitical level, rather than stand up to him.

So, it seems almost inevitable that Putin will either attack Ukraine or attack a Baltic nation. It will be a tragedy of the highest order should this happen because the United States has lost its moral compass. And, yet, unless something drastic happens, something is going to happen. Something big.

With the international order in flux, different great powers are jostling to see how things will fall out. Russia is trying to draw smaller nations away from the herd, while nationals like France and Germany are trying to pick up the banner of the liberal order that the United States has so unfortunately dropped as a part of Trumplandia.

So my only conclusion can be that something that we will in hindsight call World War Three, something that is marketed as such by the American press, at least, is now almost inevitable. You can’t have this much instability in the world order without someone, somewhere — probably Russia in Europe and the DPRK in Asia making a major miscalculation.

Or it could go down something like this — Trump’s Administration, in a spasm of self defense attacks the DPRK just as Russia attacks Ukraine. It just makes too much sense that something like that might happen. I really can’t see any other outcome in the near term with things so much up in the air.

And it’s only going to get worse as long as Trump is in charge in the United States. So when a major American city is vaporized by a DPRK nuclear weapon, you can say a little prayer to yourself and whisper, “But her emails…”

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

Don’t Rage, Engage: How To Save The American Republic

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

What I’m about to articulate is, at least to me, very important. The fate of the American experiment in republican self-rule depends on it. Donald Trump’s power comes from how divisive he is. He also has the ability to evoke unprecedented rage on the part of huge swaths of the America electorate, while at the same time prompting a devoting among other groups not seen since Hitler.

To all of this, I say: Don’t rage, engage.

What I mean by this is, don’t assume that anyone who disagrees with you is trying to troll you. Or, put another way, even if they are trying to troll you don’t feed the troll. Calmly and politely explain why you disagree with them.

Now, let me admit, that I, personally, still haven’t gotten to this point yet. I used to say I had gone from center of the sun hot to center of the earth hot in my personal rage against Trumplandia. Now, I have cool down even farther to a just a blinding fury that only pops up every once in a while when it seems like I’ve entered some surreal fantasy land where words have no meaning and actions have on consquences.

But you can take the “Don’t rage, engage” motto in other ways, as well. You can take it as a call to political action. We need to realize the stakes before us and we need to become politically engaged in a way we’ve not seen sine at least the Civil Rights movement.

If you think you have it in you to run for office, run for office. Vote, especially in special elections. Maybe start a reading group, or hell, even a Committee of Correspondence if you think things are dire enough. Anything, something to help defend the American Republic from the seemingly ever-expanding cancer that is Trumplandia.

Trumplandia wants us to grow burnt out. It wants us to grow so burnt out in our outrage that we eventually succumb to to the forces of Trumplandia that want us to live in a “managed democracy” whereby we no longer live in a liberal democracy, but rather an illiberal one.

Or put even another way, we have to keep the faith. We have to have hope. We have to act on an individual level. American ideals are at stake and if we don’t collectively do something and do something now some very basic America ideals will wither away.

As an aside, it kind of blows my mind that Trumplandia gets so work up over leaks. You know they totally during Watergate would have been more concerned with who Deep Throat was than what he was leaking.

Regardless, use whatever rage Trumplandia evokes in you to stay energized, to stay engaged and, after enough time has elapsed, maybe even cross the political divide and try to understand what makes Trumplandia tick. It will be tough, I know, but it’s something we have to do.

The fate of the nation rests on it.

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.

Axios Of Boring: The Big Meh

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have given myself something of a challenge: find something to write about using the Axios webpage as a writing prompt. I have to say, I find myself stumped.

It’s difficult for me to come up with a point of view at all about anything Axios has to say because it’s so dry and there’s just no there, there. At least with the late Gawker.com, there was an occasionally a juice nugget worth writing about.

Reading Axios, I definitely get the sense they’re so willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt that they’re almost complicit. My vision for this site is to be the exact opposite of Axios, but Axios is so dry and I would never read it otherwise to such an extent that it’s difficult to use it even as a whipping dog for fun.

I guess my biggest problem with Axios is they don’t generate any content I couldn’t find somewhere else. They may have scoops generated by “access journalism” on a occasion, but the actual content is kind of white noise in my book.

None of the headlines pop out as all that interesting and they don’t seem all that interested in doing anything weird like talking to interesting people with stories to tell. It comes across as really corporate and, well, meh.

I mean, Sen. John McCain attacked Jared Kushner. So what.

Give me personality profiles. Give me great, interesting headlines that draw you in and make you think. Meh. Just meh.

I will keep monitoring Axios just because it gives me something to write about, but otherwise, meh.

So, Why Does Everybody Hate Liberals?

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The idea of the liberal first entered my personal consciousness when I was a young boy in the 1980s. President Ronald Reagan seemed hell bent on ending the reign of “tax and spend,” “big government” liberals who were ruining America and preventing it from enjoy its potential through over regulation.

In rural Virginia in the 1980s, this was quite a popular set of rhetoric. Of course, I was curious why everyone hated liberals and promptly became one, almost out of spite.

Since the 80s, things have grown significantly worst for liberals. Liberals now get it from both sides, with Right wing nut jobs calling for our heads on one side and progressives telling us to get out the way on the other. But before I go into, let’s at least attempt to try to figure out what a liberal is in the first place.

A liberal, at least in my view, is something believes the government has a place in people’s lives, that it can improve the lot of the common man by giving them a hand up when they need it. Liberals, unlike radicals on the extreme Left believe in gradual change in the context of a mixed economy. That’s not a text book definition by any means, but that’s the general one I have in my head when I think of myself as a “liberal.”

The apparent universal hatred for liberals wasn’t always the case. From about 1933 to 1953 America ran on liberal ideas. That was pretty much the center of the action when it came to the American body politic. Liberals would continue to be a powerful force in the post-WWII era for generations to come.

But, gradually, large segments of the population grew disenchanted with the liberal agenda. Just from what I have experience in my personal life of observing politics, it seems a lot of the hatred of liberals was the result of wedge issues like abortion and gay rights. The people those topics did not alienate, liberal being at the forefront of the the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements did.

So, by the time of the Reagan Revolution in 1980, liberals were now the go-to whipping boy for Reagan Conservatives who — unlike Donald Trump — actually had an ideology that they could go to when need-be. Reagan Conservatives wanted small government, lower taxes and “traditional values.” Unlike the mental citizens of today’s Trumplandia, they seemed to have some sense of what, exactly, all that meant in a cogent way they could defend without fear of it all being upended with an early morning tweet.

The interesting thing is that some people really took Reagan’s rhetoric against liberals to heart. And hence, we have the ideological underpinnings of the dire straights we find ourselves in now. A lot of people who don’t even understand what a liberal is, just know they hate them and that they hide under their bed, feasting on the bodies of dead children.

So, now what.

It seems to me that we have kind of come to a dead end. The hatred of liberals among those on the far Right has reached such surreal extremes that really the only way it could get worst is if people started to get physically harmed. Which, of course, we know they already are.

I would idly note that a lot of what Right wing nutjob hate so much and call “liberal” really is more the ideological successor to the “New Left” that was birthed as a result of the Vietnam War. So, all the talk of “safe spaces” an “trigger warnings” is more, at least in my book, more Neo-New Left than it is liberal.

And, I have to note, don’t even consider myself all that liberal in real terms. The Bill Clinton agenda of about 1996 is where I stand politically to this day and that definitely isn’t very liberal.

Now we find ourselves in the era of Trumplandia, where it seems we are all about to OD on “liberal outrage” over this or that obscene thing that Donald Trump has done to the Constitution. As I keep saying, if liberals are going to do anything about this, we’re going to have to stop being enraged and become engaged instead.

That’s the solution to the problem at hand. We have to use our anger constructively. As Baby Boomers grow older, the work of liberals will grow much, much more difficult. If we do manage to survive this Era of Trumplandia, it could be 20 or 30 years before enough Baby Boomers have died off that a new generation of liberals can come forth and clean up the damage.

Or it could go a different way. Either progressives will pick up the baton and do what liberals used to do, or if I may strike a darker, more dystopian tone, this may be it. We may no longer be living in a Republic at all and we’re fucked. We may be now in a “managed democracy” like they have in Russia and the liberal agenda will be squashed for here on out.

But I have hope. I have hope that the American spirit is stronger than that and maybe, just maybe, thing will work out for the best for everyone involved…eventually.

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

Here Come The French To Save The Day

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is a sad day when the United States has so abrogated its role as the moral leader of the free world that other nations find themselves scrambling to fill the void. It is really sad and there are no easy answer. But it was bound to happen. It was bound to happen given Donald Trump’s love of autocrats and his belief in “American carnage.”

The question, of course, is if America can ever dig itself out of this whole. We are in unprecedented times this is the type of uncertainty on the world stage that in the past has caused world wars to happen. So, if yo consider more than one regional war happening at the same time a world war, then we definitely may see that happening in the days and weeks ahead.

Eyes Wide Cuck: Trumplandia & The Origins Of The Vichy Republicans

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When the history of Trumplandia is written, more than one chapter — hell, maybe a few books — will be devoted to how, exactly, an otherwise normal major party in a liberal democracy managed to succumb to the machinations of a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue.

Unlike, say, Hitler, Trump did not grow a small hateful party to dominance due to economic turmoil. On the contrary, Donald Trump like some sort of alien parasite exploded full grown out of the chest of a major party during relative property.

So, what the fuck happened?

One key issue we have address is that during eight years of “No Drama Obama” the center-Right in the United States grew hysterical. It grew hysterical for various reasons, including technologically facilitated bullshit bubbles found online as well as the biggest generator of bullshit out there, FOX News. One can not ignore some basic facts, as well — something about having the first African American president really evoked a visceral hatred on the part of the Republican base. Add to this the tax increases on the wealthy associated with Obamacare and the near light-speed pace of social change in the form of gay marriage, and you have the makings of a very volatile political situation indeed.

But just because the elements were there, doesn’t mean anything had to happen with it. It took a major global depression for Hitler to take over Germany and Donald Trump managed to do it during a time of relative prosperity. What’s more, he managed to take over the Republican Party from the inside and turn the establishment into Vichy stooges.

Personally, I lay the blame on the primary system. There were 16 Republican candidates and Trump managed to best 15 of them through sheer force of will, rhetoric and an unexpected adept political touch. If you wanted an example of the Great Man Theory of political history at work, Donald Trump is it. But for Trump personally, we probably would now have President Marco Rubio and Vice President Ted Cruz. You can almost see how Trump warped history. It’s not difficult. Rubio, but for being bested by Trump in the primaries had all the apparent characteristics needed to win. He was young, articulate and of Hispanic background. And he blew it. He totally blew it. He blew it because once middle school bully Trump called him “Lil Rubio,” and Rubio could not come back with an effective rebuttal, he was doomed.

So, Trump, personally, managed to completely fuck up everything because he understood the base better than anyone else. He understood them because, in a sense, he _was_ the base. He was wealthy, but crass. He seemed to “get” the needs of the common man, even though unlike all the other professional Republican candidates he had no ideology at all. His only ideology was whatever he happen to tweet that day.

And don’t ignore one basic fact: the base of the Republican Party, after having consumed epic, delusional amounts of bullshit, were hysterical. They wanted to shake things up in Washington in a big way and that one one of the reasons why they latched on to Trump, became of a part of Trumplandia: he had his weaknesses, but he was definitely going to be a change agent, no matter what.

So, I suggest that Trump’s ultimate victory came in large part from the particular quirks of the American primary system. If there were national primaries, it’s far less likely Trump would have won. I keep going back to this comparison because it seems so obvious to me: Trump’s winning of the primaries was biggest co-opting of an established political order since the Fall of France in 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy France government.

The effects of that fall of the Republican Party continue to echo to this day in enormous ways. But more about that in a moment.

The second part of this historical clusterfuck is Trump’s actual winning of the general election. It goes without saying, at least in my view, that Hillary Clinton was a historically weak candidate. One of the complaints by center-Right people was that she saw it as “her time” to be president. That was a little bit too close to a monarchy for a lot of people and they got turned off. So, given the choice between electing a perceived quasi-queen and a Russophile autocrat, they picked the latter. Let that sink in for a moment.

Additionally, it is pretty obvious that Trump’s win was aided by the Russians. That didn’t help Hillary Clinton’s chances any. Neither did then FBI Director James Comey’s letter regarding e-mails just a few days before the election. And all of THAT doesn’t even begin to address the wide-spread misogyny directed against Clinton on a personal basis. A lot of center-Right people had already gotten burnt out from having the first African American president and the first female president was just a bridge too far for them at that particular historical moment.

But, really, there remains a very specific group of the electorate whose reasoning for voting for Trump remains elusive to me. Let’s call them “the Good Americans.” These are your traditional establishment Republicans who historically have been the kingmakers in American politics. They go under different names. Sometimes they’re called Reagan Democrats. I am probably stumbling across a well known segment of the political spectrum that I just don’t known the proper nomenclature for.

Regardless, I just don’t get how it is they voted for Trump. How is it that these otherwise sane people voted for someone as ill-suited for the job of president, especially against someone as well qualified — at least on paper — as Hillary Clinton. The only thing I can think of is they “came home” when push came to shove and they held their nose simply because they couldn’t bear to see the Clinton’s come back into office. But I still feel that doesn’t really explain things.

Having said all that, the issue now is what does The Resistance do? How can The Resistance defeat Trumplandia in the various elections to come. That is a very difficult question for a number of reasons, chief amongst them being is I fear the United States isn’t really a democracy anymore. We’ve lurched towards something akin to the “managed democracy” found in Russia.

We haven’t completely gotten there, but we’re working on it. Really, the only reason why the process hasn’t been completed is the United States’ strong civil society. That’s it. So, really, if you don’t want to live in an true autocracy, thank late night comics, or a song writer or a movie producer. They’re our last hope to maybe organize some sort of collective rejection of Trumplandia’s final consumption of the American Republic.

But another thing I would suggest is, be engaged, not outraged. The Resistance has to figure out how to bridge the gap between itself and Trumplandia. Just assuming that someone who disagrees with you in a trolling you just plays into Trump’s hands.

This is very difficult for me to accept, myself. I really just want to ignore anyone who disagrees with me, but that way lies political failure for what I feel is important. Eventually, maybe not immediately, I am going to force myself to engage people who disagree with me online. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve got to do it.

And I would suggest you do the same. We’ve got a lot riding on it.

Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. You may reach him at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Hindsight Is 2020: Why Trump Won A Second Term

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I am not one of those who assumes that either Donald Trump will quit, or be impeached because there is a “Blue Wave” in 2018. There are no assurances in life, and Trump has proven himself to be a surprisingly good demagogue when it comes to conning that 30% of the electorate that seems completely unwilling to realize what he’s up to.

So, if a time traveler were to magically pop up in front of me and tell me that Trump had won a second term, I wouldn’t be all that surprised. I will be sad and disappointed in my fellow Americans…again…but it wouldn’t really surprise me.

But suppose the time traveler in question did not tell me why Trump won a second term. What would be my guesses as to how we managed to repeat the same mistake twice?

1. A split opposition
There is a very real chance that The Resistance will be split between Mark Zuckerberg and Al Franken. Or, in other words, between the tech business friendly liberal side and the progressive side. This has been an age-old problem for the Democratic Party and typical only when a relatively conservative Democrat pops up does the party win. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama being the mot notable examples. So, that would be my first guess.

2. We’re no longer a Republic
In this thinking, the sheer fact that Trump was a sitting president would mean it was simply impossible to get rid of him. Hence, America would go to a quasi-elected dictatorship of sorts, with only the historical quirk of an open seat sealing the deal altogether.

3. Yet more Russian meddling
This is a very real possibility. Given that the Vichy Republicans are completely indifferent to how the Russians hacked the 2016 election, it would make a lot of sense that they would do it again. So, pretty much the Republican Party would win AGAIN in 2020 for no other reason that they weren’t playing fair.

4. A wag the dog situation
If Trump were to start a major regional war with either North Korea or Iran at just the right time, he could probably ride a wave of popularity to a second term. If some hayseed rube like me a fly over state can think this up, then Mr. Bannon surely can.

5. A very weak Democratic candidate.
The worst case scenario is Hillary Clinton runs again in 2020. She has proven herself to be a horrible candidate and if she ran again, she would screw everything up…again. She has way too much baggage and she should let someone else run. It is possible that by 2020 Trump will have managed to churn out so many liberal martyrs that one of them will be good enough to defeat him.

6. People just got mad and didn’t engaged
If people don’t actually turn all their rage into actually political engagement, Trump will keep winning.

Regardless, I am cautiously optimistic that it’s at least possible that Trump will be defeated in 2020. Maybe. Hopefully.

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