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.

We Must Refuse to Normalize Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I’m of the opinion that Trumplandia is an anomaly in America’s history, much like Vichy France was anomaly in that otherwise proud nation’s history. Americans are too easy to poke fun of the French for Vichy France, when France pretty much ruled much of Europe for 20 years just a hundred years before.

So let’s talk Trumplandia.

First, I keep talking about it, but what is Trumplandia? I first heard the term during the 2016 election cycle when someone said the FBI was “Trumplandia.” I found the term intriguing and as events progressed I gradually came to see Trumplandia as America’s version of Vichy France. Trumplandia is that collection of individuals who support Trump for various reasons and are so blinded by their devotion to him on a personal level that they’ve lost sight of the obvious: this is not normal.

It’s not normal and the sooner those of us who oppose Trumplandia stop being outraged and start being engaged, the better. That’s the crux of the problem of The Resistance, I think. It is way, way too easy to stay angry all the time to such an extent that you get burnt out.

But instead of getting burnt out, I would suggest we, the opposition, get engaged. We have to stay focused. We have to keep our eyes on the prize — at the very least flipping Congress in 2018. The Vichy Republicans who cower in front of Trump are at the center of the bizarre situation we find ourselves in during the Trumplandia Era.

To me, the most startling aspect of Trumplandia, the part of it that could potentially make someone white hot with rage, is that seemingly otherwise normal individuals willfully voted for a bigot, a racist and a misogynist. That such a thing happened at all in this nation that I love continues to blow my mind.

What’s worse, there continues to be an active effort to normalize Trumplandia. There is definitely a disconnect between what a large segment of the population thinks about Trumplandia and what the mainstream media thinks. You see that disconnect in various places like Twitter and the late night comedy shows. It is there that right minded people are openly debating if the President of the United States is a traitor, a quisling.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media is only slowly beginning to realize the gravity of all of this. After facilitating Donald Trump’s rise to power, media outlets like MSNBC’s Morning Joe are just now, reluctantly beginning to see the error of their ways. That doesn’t even begin to address outlets like Axios which are built from the ground up to be complicit in normalizing Trumplandia.

That’s why all of this is so troubling.

We are living in a dystopian present and there doesn’t seem to be anyway out. There doesn’t seem to be any easy answers for the foreseeable future for no other reason than the Vichy Republicans are so complicit in Trumplandia that they wouldn’t do anything to Trump politically, even if it was proven that his 2016 campaign actively colluded with the Russian efforts to hack our election.

So, as I keep saying, we need to put our outrage to work. We need to stop being outraged and we need to start being engaged. That is the path out of this dystopia. That is the path out of surreal political environment that we find ourselves in.

Only by using our outrage in a constructive, meaningful manner can we smite Trumplandia from our political landscape once and for all. The weird thing about Trumplandia is it has completely upended the traditional Left-Right spectrum, at least on social media.

But history does not go in a straight line. There will be setbacks. Maybe even a lot of them. But if we stay engaged, stay focused it is inevitable that at some point we will be victorious.

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

Axios As Complicit In Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I don’t have anything against the folks at Axios, it’s just I guess I am so opposed to Trumplandia that the notion that you would willfully prostrate yourself before Trumplandia in an effort to get a scoop kind of troubles me. That’s why I keep thinking someone, somewhere will found an anti-Axios.

I’m dong my little part with this site, but I simply don’t have the resources to do nearly enough with my vision. Should that change, should I get even the tiniest little bit of traction — most likely in the form of someone helping me — then that would rock.

Or put another way, it just seems pretty obvious that there needs to be a site that does the exact oppose of Axios. Once you normalize Trumplandia by seeing it as just another administration, you kind of facilitate a surreal dystopian future where the once unimaginable is taken for granted.

So, that’s why I’m left scratching my head as to why someone with some resources to back them hasn’t decided to start a site much like the old Gawker devoted to getting people to use their outrage against Trumplandia to become engaged. I keep expecting the guys of Crooked Media to do as I propose, but they seem more interested in doing podasts than a traditional blog.

It just makes too much sense. All the ingredients are there for an anti-Axios to explode. You have a lot of people like me who want a go-to site to bone up on resisting Trumplandia and given that over half the population voted for Hillary Clinton, there obviously is a market for it as well.

As I keep saying, I think probably some of what I want is being served by Twitter. That may be, in fact, what is going on. People like me are simply going to Twitter to get what I suggest they may want in an anti-Axios website. Websites are kind of passe these days for various reasons, so it may be difficult to get the funding to do it at all.

I’m no media expert, I simply don’t know.

I guess all of this boils down to my personal belief that something cool could be afoot if someone with a little vision — ie, me — was given the resources to start a site devoted to being an anti-Axios. After some thought, I realize what about Axios makes me uncomfortable — it’s complicit and it normalizes Trumplandia, which in my mind is something akin to Vichy France.

So, Axios is kind of a news organisation devoted to getting scoops from Vichy France by being complicit in the hole endeavor.

I’m sure they’re great folks and I have nothing personal against them, but I am of the opinion that sites like the one I would like to build need something to pick on and Axios would be a perfect target. But, as I keep saying, no one is probably going to help me and I’ll get bored of all of this soon enough.

But I still have a little bit of hope.

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

The Vision Thing: ‘Be Engaged, Not Outraged’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have given it some though and it seems as though for all this talk of not being outraged, there is an easy response: “Be engaged, not outraged.”

In other words, instead of getting angry all the time over the latest bigoted, misogynist, racist thing that has happened in Trumplandia, use whatever talent you have to combat it. For me, that’s doing this site. I am a pretty good writer, photographer and organizer. I am good at articulating a vision.

As Trumplandia and Tsar-a-Largo grinds on, the only way we can effectively prevent ourselves from being burnt out is to engage. Push the urge to be angry all the time aside and be energized and engaged in an effort to make the world a better place, to defeat Trumplandia once and for all.

If that means leaving your online cocoon and talking to someone who disagrees with you, so be it. That is probably one of the major problems we have a society right now. People simply refuse to talk to someone who disagrees with them because they think they’re trolling them.

At least in my personal experience, I think maybe that’s a scar from the Russian hacking of our election last year. We were mentally violated by a deluge of paid trolls and bots that were designed to make us fell unsafe online. It’s really tough after such an experience not to retreat to a “safe place” and avoid anyone who disagrees with you. But the crux of civil society is debate between people who disagree, so we can’t give up hope just yet. If we do, then our foe Russia has won even more than just the election of Donald Trump.

So, this site’s vision is to be a place to inform you, entertain you and maybe get you engaged instead of outraged. I have all kinds of cool daydreams that could become a reality with a little help. I really like what the folks of Crooked Media are going, but they aren’t doing enough in my opinion. All they do are weekly podcasts and I need and want something that happens significantly more often. Like on a daily, hourly basis if not even more than that. News seems to break so much these days, it would be nice to have a site that you immedately went to read up on it. Now, of course, Twitter pretty much serves that purpose to some extent, but I guess I’d like something a bit more long form. And since nothing really exists, I guess I feel like creating it myself.

On a personal note, I can’t do this alone if my vision is to become a reality. I need someone to help me. I can’t pay — at least right now — but I do have a decent amount of publishing experience and you could probably leverage your work on this site to get a paying job down the road. At least, that’s the delusion I tell myself when I think it’s possible someone might help me.

Yet, I would like to think maybe someone, somewhere might be willing to put in a minimal amount of effort to help me. All I really need is someone willing to write a little bit to supplement the writing that I do. More importantly, should this site take off — which I seriously doubt it will — I am going to need some donations of some sort for bandwidth, marketing and improving site appearance.

Yet I have very low expectations. Very low indeed. Unless something dramatic happens, I’ll get bored of this soon enough and move on to something else. But it’s definitely fun while it lasts.

Outrage In The Trumplandia Era

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is easy to get outraged by the malfeasance and autocratic nature of Trump. It’s really easy. And, yet, we’ve reached the point where we can no longer be angry all the time. It’s what they want. They want to wear us out to such an extent that the United States becomes a “managed democracy” like Russia.

What I suggest is instead of being outraged, by energized.

Channel all that outrage into constructive means of political engagement. It doesn’t have to be a lot — it could be simply having an intelligent debate — in real life! — with someone who disagrees with you. It could be voting in a special election. Just stay engaged. Don’t tune out and let Trumplandia spread even farther across the land.

But it’s difficult to do this, I know. I was angry for a long, long time and alienated numerous people that in hindsight I regret having alienated. Or not. I guess now that I’ve calmed down some, I see how only by bridging the divide between myself and members of Trumplandia will anything change.

So, people like me need to stop blaming Trumplandia voters and we need to begin to figure out how to get to the root of the problem. Hell, we need to figure out what the root of the problem is to begin with. It’s still a mystery to me.

Every explanation people have given me for why Trumplandia exists at all simply doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it boils down to something even more basic than any of us dare contemplate — the great man theory of history. It could be that Donald Trump through sheer force of will exploited deep, dark things in the American psyche that none of us realized still existed.

It didn’t help that not only was Hillary Clinton a horrible candidate, she faced the headwinds of misogyny and Russian meddling. Throw in the traditional ebb and flow of American politics and once Trump got past the primaries, it was pretty much inevitable he would win the general election.

But let’s go back to outrage. At least one Trump voter has told me that everytime I expressed outrage on Facebook Live, it only made them want to vote for Trump more. I find that to be a puzzling, to say the least, line of reasoning. It seems as though Trumplandia is a guttural grunt in the general direction of a mythical time in America’s recent past when it was “great.”

I still can’t figure out when, exactly, that was and why we would want to go back to it given my belief that America is great now. Or, at least, was, until Trump grabbed it by the genitals.

So, don’t get angry. Whatever you do, don’t get angry. Get engaged. Try to bridge the divide between The Resistance and Trumplandia. We have a long, long, long road ahead of us and the sooner we trade in our outrage for engagment, the sooner maybe we can go back to normal.

Axios Watch: Axios Of Dullness

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Welcome to the first installment of my effort to document Axios’ cover of Trumplandia. Now, let me stress, I have no idea if this is going to last more than one issue. I may grow bored of it — and this blog in general — and all of this will be moot.

But if the late Gawker can do 500 days of coverage for a z list celebrity, then I can at least attempt to occasionally pick on Axios.

So, let’s look at what’s going on at our polar opposite. Axios makes it name, at least according to the sense I get from Twitter, for getting great scoops because it is something of a lapdog that uses access journalism to make a name for itself. Given that I have no money and have no access, it makes sense that I would see my self on the other end of the spectrum from Axios.

The site itself looks great. It’s got a clean, sleek design that is inviting and enjoyable. Having said that, the actual content — at least on the surface — seems pretty meh. I don’t know enough context yet to know how right I am on that.

Anyway, today, Axios the site leads with a story about Sec. of State Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic work relative to Jared Kushner. Dull. I don’t care. Boring. Give me something interesting about Trumplandia. Give me more detail about, like, why doesn’t Kushner speak in public? What is up with that, yo?

I guess I’m not the audience, because I am struggling to find one sold story that catches my interest. One that is interesting, however, is their article about Angela Merkel talking about the sorry state of Europe-American relations these days because of Trump. It’ an important story…and yet…it seems to me they could spin it with a little bit more pizzazz.

But, like I said, I have a feeling I’m not the audience. The audience is wonky people in D.C. not some broke ass writer in the middle of a fly over state.

I have to give them credit, they have at least one sold headline — ‘Raging Bull’ Trump shifts back into 2016 campaign mode That is at least a mildly interesting headline.

Overall, the content of the site is kind of like that scene in Wayne’s World where they end up in Delaware.

The Time Is Ripe For The Founding Of An Anti-Axios Startup

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

This is one of those instances where I can articulate a vision quite well, but given that I simply don’t have the resources, it’s not like anything is going to happen with it. In fact, absolutely nothing is going to happen with my vision for an “anti-Axios” of sorts.

As you may know, from what I can gather from Twitter, Axios is considered a prime example of lapdog “access journalism” in the age of Trumplandia. Off the top of my head, I honestly can’t think of a site that does the opposite online right now.

I can’t think of a site that attacks Trumplandia mercilessly with wit and snarkiness. I am writing this blog in large part because I want to get a lot of things about Trumplandia off my chest and I can’t do it in 140 characters.

I propose that if someone who did have resources were to follow the vision I wish to articulate, that there would be both the audience and the market for the site to be successful. All the ingredients for a site as I propose exist for it to be successful.

You have both a market and an audience that, as of right now, isn’t really being served. If someone like me can’t think of a single go-to blog to read about how horrible Trumplandia is, then obviously it doesn’t exist in any meaningful manner.

What I want is spread across several sites, most of which I don’t read. Vice, Wonkette and a few others do some of what I want, but really the site that as of right now does it is Twitter itself. So, maybe that’s why the site I want doesn’t exist.

I just get it from Twitter.

But it would be cool for a site such as I suggest to exist. Maybe it will eventually, but, alas, I doubt I will be involved in any way.

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

The Fall Of The Fallon Empire & The Rise Of Colbert Nation

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When Jimmy Fallon tussled Donald Trump’s hair in 2016, it marked the fall of a late night ratings empire that everyone expected to last for decades. This example of “Falloning” was one of many during the course of the 2016 campaign. It took a lot longer than it should have for people to take Trump, the demagogue, seriously.

Flash forward to 2017, and we live in a weird world where Stephen Colbert is now the late night campaign. Apparently it comes from time-shifting viewers, but still.

With the rise of Colbert Nation in the wake of Trumplandia, it raises some interesting questions. I know, at least from personal experience, that I only watch The Late Show for the monologue. It’s nice to have a place one a day where you get help processing how insane recent events have been. Colbert’s monologue serves a great purpose for American society as a whole and should Trumplandia prosper for a full eight years, it could produce some pretty high ratings for Colbert for years to come.

As I have mentioned before, comedians are at the forefront of American civil society’s reaction to Trumplandia. That, right now at least, is the primary method through which we process the existence of Trumplandia in the first place.

Some observers, however, see the rise of Colbert Nation — and similar popular anti-Trumplandia comics — to have a dark side. They think by being “too mean” to Trump, it causes people who are conservative, but not Trump supporters, to make the conscious decision to throw their lot in with Trump. I don’t know how much to read into this to be true.

Trumplandia is such a cancer on American civil society, that there has to be a point when eventually such arguments will be see as bullshit. It doesn’t work being nice to Trumplandia, to normalize it and they definitely don’t mind people being assholes, so why can’t we give them a taste of their own medicine?

A lot of this has to do with how “serious” commentators simply don’t know what to do with Trumplandia. They want things to go back to the way they were. Vanity Fair, for instance, at one point all but begged the ratings gods to make Jimmy Fallon number 1 again. This revolution caused by the rise of Trumplandia is something we’re going to have to get used to.

What will be interesting to see is what happens should the Tsar-a-Largo scandal grind on for years and finally produce some sort of result that no one can deny. (Yes, that may still be possible despite tribal politics.) When will we run out of jokes and begin to take Trump a lot more seriously than we have in days past.

I think give the earnest edge of Colbert’s monologue we’re about reaching that point. It seems as though people are beginning to wake up to how serious all of this is and soon enough we’ll stop laughing and get down to the serious business of The Resistance.