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

by Shelton Bumgarner

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

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

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

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)

Of The Resistance, Watergate, TrumpRussia & The Coming ‘Pence Pivot’

by Shelton Bumgarner

In some ways, the similarities between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump are spooky and in other ways, they’re just not there. Nixon was actually, like, smart and stuff, while Trump is a pretty big moron. As I have said before, Trump is kind of like the movie Being There’s Chancy Gardner on mushrooms. He’s weirdly politically adept in a horribly divisive way.

I have Watergate on the brain because it’s the 45 anniversary of the weekend the original break-in took place and it’s pretty obvious that we’re not even in the second act of this tragedy. The story started on Nov. 9th, the inciting incident was the firing of Jim Comey and now we’re waiting for something to push the protagonist into the second act. The thing that comes to me off the top of my head would be Trump firing Bob Muller. That seems to make the most sense. But we’ll see.

Remember, Watergate took two full years to play out and that took place in the context of far less partisanship, much different technology and a president who had the good sense to at least keep his bizarre ramblings to himself — if albeit on tape. One thing about TrumpRussia that makes it worse than Watergate is the foreign aspect. But just look at the parts of the scandal we have to wade through in the coming years.

1. Possible collusion between Trump’s “satellites” and Russian hackers
2 What is the deal with Flynn?
3. The firing of Jim Comey.
4. All sorts of weird money issues.
5. Enormous, epic and glaring violations of the emoluments clause.

One thing is for sure, we have at least a year of this bizarre drama ahead of us. I give it a year because about a year from now is when the 2018 mid-term elections will really begin to heat up. So it seems as though there is a real chance — if the Access Hollywood tape is any indication — that Trump may very well apologize to the nation for what happen, admit that his “satellites” did collude with the Russians and then pardon everyone he can think of while firing Bob Muller. That would be one tactic he might use to get himself out of his sticky wicket.

If he doesn’t do something like that, the he may very well just drag Bob Muller’s reputation through the mud to such an extent that in the eyes of the center-Right at least, there won’t be any credibility to anything the says. If something like that can happen to John Kerry, then it can happen to anyone in Washington.

One interesting thing is I have a feel that at the very moment that people like me — the center-Left and people on the other side — the center-Right — can agree that Trump has to go, the center-Right will, without blinking, do a “Pence pivot” and say no matter what, it was all worthwhile to get a President Pence. That is mind boggling and so outrageous — and so easy to imagine to happening — that I have to say it makes me kind of depressed. We won’t have any moment in time when both sides agree that Trump was a tragic mistake that could have been avoided.

Within moments, we’ll go from fighting over Trump to fighting over Pence without the center-Right missing a beat. Some about the “Pence pivot” is so intellectually dishonest that it makes me white hot. People don’t really vote for the veep, they vote for the president. All of this tragedy that we’re wading into could have been avoided if people had just seen Trump at the time for what he is — an existential threat to the Republic.

It is all very sad and unsettling and makes you wonder how history will view TrumpRussia 20 or 40 years from now. Will it be seen as “worse than Watergate,” or something more along the lines of Iran-Contra or Whitewater. If Trump plays his cards right, he definitely go go the Ronald Reagan Iran-Contra route, even though Trump is no Reagan and TrumpRussia is a lot worse than Iran-Contra.

One thing The Resistance really needs to keep its eye on, instead of risking outrage fatigue, is the agenda that Trumplandia is pushing through while we’re all busy being upset over the details of TrumpRussia. We need to keep an eye on how Trump is attempting to pack the Federal bench with insane people. We need to keep an eye on the secret efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare in the Senate. We need to keep and eye on the effort to generally destroy the social welfare state that, ironically enough, many Trump voters desperately need.

Regardless, there are no easy answers. As I have said, history doesn’t go in a straight line. We’re barely in the middle of the TrumpRussia scandal era. We’ve got, at a minimum another year of all of this ahead of us and it could be much longer than that if you through in a major terrorist attack or a wag the dog war with Iran or North Korea.

All I can say is keep your emotional powder dry. Stay energized. Stay engaged. Don’t get overwhelmed. Vote. Be willing to talk to someone you disagree with, even if you think there’s no chance of changing their mind. It’s the only way we’re going to make it through this tragic event.

Some Things The Resistance Needs

by Shelton Bumgarner

As I keep saying, I’m hard at work on a novel about this bizarre era we live in, so I kind of have all of this on the brain right now. Here are two things I’ve mentioned before that The Resistance needs that I will review.

1. A Gawker-Like Website
The Resistance needs a Gawker-Like — or Spy Magazine — for this era. We need a go-to site for woke commentary in blog form about what’s going on in this era. Trump isn’t going anywhere and the sooner we understand that, the better. It seem as though some people think they shouldn’t start anything that would help The Resistance because they think Trump is going to resign or be impeached sometime soon. That just isn’t going to happen. I have suggested Playboy could be the media organization that would most benefit from such a thing, but it doesn’t seem they’re going to pay me any attention or even know that I’m talking about it.

2. A Twitter Killer
We need a better mousetrap. Twitter is great in some ways, but a real pain in the but Trump became president, in part, because of his use of Twitter. All of this is insane. We need something that uses the concepts of the old Usenet from 20 years ago in a modern way. At least I thin we do.

Anyway, no one cares. No one is listening to me. We’re going to just suffer as the Trump era grinds on and nothing changes, except for the worst.

Talk To Me Internet: Struggling With My Novel About The Trump Era

by Shelton Bumgarner

I continue to struggle with my novel which is supposed to be a speculative fiction satire of the Trump era. It’s one of those things where I know the general plot, but the specifics are really tough. But I am enjoying writing it out nonetheless.

It will be interesting to see what comes of it all. I have one plot to my name — the rise, fall and rise of ROKon Magazine — so that’s the one I’m trying to intertwine with a satire of this bizarre era we live in. But it is going to take time. I need to look for a job as well as write a novel, so it will be a while. It could be as long as a few years.

Psychological Observation About Trump From Access Hollywood Tape Incident

by Shelton Bumgarner

I hate it, but I’m turning it a one-man Donald Trump truth squad. Anyway, if you remember what happened with the Access Hollywood tape incident, he saved his sorry ass by apologizing in all but name. So what happens from a political stand point if a year from now, just before the 2018 mid-terms, Trump suddenly realizes the gravity of the situation he faces and, well, comes clean to the fullest extent he can?

Then what?

Given the impeachment is a political, not criminal event, it’s possible that would be the thing that would allow him to survive and even prosper. The thing that would allow him to put this whole TrumpRussia thing behind him — admit that his “satellites” did, in fact, collude with the Russians and then say the time for the nation to move on had come.

It definitely seems like that’s how Trump would go about surviving this mess.

What The Resistance Can — And Can’t — Learn From Watergate

by Shelton Bumgarner

I am not saying I’m any historical expert of Watergate, but I have read up on the subject. I know a lot more Iran-Contra for various reasons and I’ll try to work that into this article as best I can. Here are some back-of-the-envelope things I have noticed about Watergate that might come in handy as we grind through this horrible experience now commonly known as TrumpRussia.

1. These things take time
It was a full two years from the June 17th 1972 break in to the resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9th, 1974. Along the way, a lot of shit went down. There were mistakes on everyone’s part, there were dead ends, quirks of fate and the bizarre. We have barely gotten to the end of the beginning of this scandal for various reasons. And, remember, both Iran-Contra and Whitewater took hears and only in the latter was there an impeachment. And even then, the impeachment was over something serious but kind of dumb in the context of what was going on at the time. So, Trump could not only survive, but he could prosper. He could win re-election and we’ll still be talking about this six years from now. But though I talk like this, I refuse to give up hope that maybe, just maybe, the right thing — at least in my book — will happen before, like, 2025.

2. Keep things simple
While I am not an expert, I do know enough about Washington scandals to know that if things are both too dry and complex, people lose interest and nothing happens. That’s what happen with Iran-Contra. The more I think about it, the more I realize in some ways TrumpRussia has more in common with Iran-Contra than it does Watergate. Both TrumpRussia and Iran-Contra dealt with foreign powers and screwing around with things that shouldn’t be fucked with. But the troublesome thing about TrumpRussia is it takes the most nefarious aspects of Iran-Contra and takes it to a whole new level. I mean, at least Reagan was kind of senile and allowed people with at least patriotic intent to go around laws they thought weren’t just.

What Trump’s “satellites” may have done in an effort to win the 2016 election is nearly treasonous at is at least of a quisling nature if nothing else. But the thing we have to remember about Iran-Contra is it didn’t have the drama of Watergate, so it was just too complicated for the average person to understand. And, given that Reagan was popular, people give him an epic, historic pass. If I recall correctly, Reagan also apologized, which though I doubt Trump would do, that would be one way to possibly defuse any impeachment talk a few years down the road.

So, if you consider yourself a member of The Resistance, you need to hone down TrumpRussia to some basic talking points and repeat them until you’re blue in face. Right now, I think TrumpRussia could be boiled down to:

a. Trump or his associates may have colluded with Russian hackers to hurt Hillary Clinton
b. Trump obstructed justice by firing Jim Comey who was investing Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia
c. What does Flynn have on Trump and why?
d. Trump needs to release his tax returns

At this point, the Right wing person you’re talking to will probably start babbling about “fake news” and witch hunts and how the independent council is acting like an unelected fourth branch of government. This is the point when you have to take a deep breath and try to engage, not rage. If you have the time try to stay focused on those four issues to try to get your point across.

3. Only by not allowing outrage burnout to happen will anything happen
If you are a member of The Resistance, you have to stop raging and start engaging. You have to pick your battles and keep focused. You need to stay energized without wearing yourself out. The moment you become numb to the latest horrible the that Trump has done, the moment Trump — and Trumplandia — wins.

Here are some things, though that make TrumpRussia fundamentally different from Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater.

1. Trump is a moron, but a weirdly politically astute racist, bigoted, misogynist moron
Trump is, politically, like Chancy Gardner of the Peter Sellers’ movie Being There on mushrooms. He taps into something deep and dark in the American psyche in ways I don’t fully understand. Not to invoke his name unduly, but Trump really is, in his own incompetent manner, an American Hitler. The only thing stopping him from doing real damage is his sheer incompetence as an administrator. If you managed to put Bill Clinton’s mind in Trump’s poisonous vat of a persona, something scary really would be happening. I only mention this because Trump has gotten otherwise normal Americans to tacitly approve of things that they, themselves don’t personally condone. Thus, it becomes difficult to engage with them when the first thing you want to do is yell at them for being a racist, bigoted, misogynist moron. That only makes them mad and ends the debate with the two of you telling each other to fuck off.

2. America is polarized in an unprecedented fashion
We are in a 1968 era right now and I worry that it’s only going to get worse in large part because of, well, Trump. Trump as our Dear Leader sets the tone of his era and as such some pretty zany things are happening. Bonkers. People on the Right are beyond hysterical and it doesn’t help that FOX New’s bullshit mountain keeps having avalanches of partisan bullshit. So, one of the key things from Watergate — bi-partisanship — is completely gone. Poof. The two sides are at each other’s throats — in large part because of gerrymandering, dark money and general changes in technology — and hence we find ourselves in something of a pickle. So even if it’s proven that TrumpRussia combines the worst of Watergate AND Iran-Contra, there is a pretty good chance that nothing will happen. Nothing. Nada. Effectively, there’s no check on the executive branch of the United States. A fundamental principal of the American experiment in self-governance isn’t working right now and there doesn’t seem to be any chance of it coming back for years. Let that sink in for a moment. Add to this the fake news that people on the center-Right devour on a daily basis, and things grow complicated quite quickly.

3. Technology has changed
The media world is a lot different now than it was in the early 70s, the mid 80s or the late 90s. The media universe is not only enormous, but it’s news cycle can be counted in seconds, not hours or days. So a lot of people are overwhelmed and they feel like tuning out because it all becomes white background noise. What’s worse, then they do feel like engaging, because of the insane nature of online discourse, it’s almost impossible not be trolled or hated on or whatever. People either consume news they agree with, or they go out of their way to attack people they disagree with. A basic aspect of our democracy, civil discourse, simply doesn’t happen anymore. It doesn’t happen like it once did 45 years go.

I honestly don’t have any ready answers for the problems and questions I’ve raised. All I can say is try to engage, not rage. Try. Be patient. Be energized. Don’t let Trumplandia wear you down. I wish I could promise you that it was obvious that Trump will either resign or be impeached and convicted. But, alas, that is an assurance I’m unable to give. We just have to be ever watchful and ready to fight the battles we need to fight at strategic times — and know when those moments are to begin with.

Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor & Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He may be reached at migukin (at)

Why TrumpRussia Is Worse Than Watergate, But May Not End The Same

by Shelton Bumgarner

For decades now, Republicans have screamed at the top of their lungs that any transgression that Democrats may, or may not, have committed is “worse than Watergate.” This has become such a common theme among the center-Right in this era of hyper-polarization that it’s something of a cliche.

And, yet, now that we’ve reached the 45 anniversary of the Watergate break in while we’re in the middle of yet another epic Washington scandal, it’s pretty obvious that TrumpRussia really IS worse than Watergate for any number of reasons.

The one that comes to the top of my mind is the foreign power quality of it. Say what you will about Watergate, at least it was Americans who broke into the Democratic HQ, not Russians who did so with the knowledge and collusion of quisling Americans.

That’s just the tip of the ice burg. There is a huge amount of smoke coming off of this scandal and once we finally wade through the smoke and get to the bottom of it, we could be pretty astonished at what we find. We will then be further astonished that nothing happens, at least until the mythical “Blue Wave” rips through Congress. (That’s very unlikely to happen, sadly, because of gerrymandering, but oh well.)

Regardless, the fact that we could reach a point in the near future where we have the single worst scandal in post-Civil War America…and nothing happen…could cause a few bolts to pop off of our civil society. Vichy Republicans are so…Vichy…that we’re stuck with Trump for at least roughly 18 more months. That’s being optimistic.

So, we are quickly lurching towards a very dark, very uncertain future. There is no easy way out and there won’t be any sense of closure unless something really dramatic happens politically and that’s just not going to happen given current conditions.

I’m pretty pessimistic about all of this. Trump isn’t going anywhere unless there really are tapes. And even then, well, he is something of a Dear Leader to the faithful. So we’re stuck with Trump. We’re stuck with Trump in ways that we never imagined we would be.

TrumpRussia is worse than Watergate, and the ending will be tragic, but not in the way we expect. It will likely be tragic because it won’t be the end of All The President’s Men, but something closer to Deliverance. We will have gone through all this horrible mess and…nothing. Nothing, really, will change.