Isaac Asimov’s Foundation & ‘The Mule’ As A Metaphor For Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is eerie how quiet the movie industry has been when it comes to producing metaphor’s for Trumplandia. It’s weird that no major movie — that I know of — is now in production that is supposed to be the Apocalypse Now of the rule of Trump.

Maybe one is in production right now and I just don’t know about it.

But I would like to gently suggestion that of all the stuff out there for potential creative strip mining there remains one motherload left untouched by the movie industry: The Foundation Saga. Specifically, I am thinking of the subset of the Foundation Saga known as The Mule.

The reason why The Mule is perfect to be turned into a movie is it deals with a comic character who turns out to be the villain. In short, The Mule completely destroys the presumed course of history and I think that would resonate with audiences.

I have heard that at one point HBO was working on turning The Foundation Saga into a TV series similar to Game Of Thrones, but I have not heard any more about it recently.

It’s not like I could do anything about this given that I am not very adept at writing screenplays and I definitely don’t own the rights to any part of the series. So, for the time being, this will be just an idle daydream.

But it would be a shame if nothing came of this.

American Civil Society’s Reaction To Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

One of the more crazy aspects of Trumplandia is how it’s completely stirred the pot when it comes to the traditional Left-Right divide, at least online. You have people like me, a center-Left moderate liberal agreeing with people like David Frum when it comes to one subject: Trumplandia.

The United States probably has the strongest civil society of any nation on earth, and so it’s interesting how the rise of Trumplandia has played out. The first shockwave of reaction against Trumplandia has come from comics, specifically late night comics. Stephen Colbert’s monologue has become appointment viewing since Trump became president in large part because there’s not really any other outlet right now for our society to process Trumplandia.

Our first reaction as a civil society to Trumplandia, then, is to laugh. We laugh at all these crazy things happening because they’re happening so fast and it’s all so surreal relative to the eight years of “No Drama Obama” that we enjoyed, that we simply don’t know what else to do.

I have suggested that there needs to be a site devoted specifically to picking apart Trumplandia in a snarky manner, like Spy Magazine, Late Night With David Letterman or Gawker.com, but it could be that the energy that the creative energy that would otherwise be put into that is being done on Twitter. At least, that’s one explanation for what’s going on.

Or it could be that I’m just too impatient. Maybe the media ecosystem that would otherwise on a Darwinian level bring rise to an site devoted to Resistance news and commentary takes a little bit more time to develop than I am giving it credit for.

So, it could be that the instability caused by the rise of Trumplandia is summoning the mythical Kraken, it’s just taking a lot longer than I expect. Maybe a year from now, American civil society will be so upset with Trumplandia that any number of different creative forms will be attacking it. That’s my hope.

If you were a bit more dystopian in your inclinations, you might say that we’re totally fucked. By that I mean, we may be on course for a Russian style “managed democracy.” And, yet, I would like to think that goes against the very nature of the American experience. I would like to think that maybe America is better than that. Americans are really docile by nature.

It takes a whole lot to rile Americans up. Once they get angry, though, watch out. Real change happens in America when the populace gets riled up. It happened in the late 60s and early 70s and it could potentially happen again. People talk about how we’re in a Constitutional crisis, and I am apt to agree. We’re in kind of a chronic Constitutional crisis that flares up occasionally without warning.

At the core of this is the Vichy nature of the Republican Party. As I mentioned, Trumplandia has completely ripped up the traditional Left-Right spectrum. We need to keep an eye on that. That is significant in the context of American civil society. When you have people in the intelligence community agreeing with people on the other end of the political spectrum, something significant is afoot.

The prime question, of course, is where does this all end. How will we look back upon this era of Trumplandia. Is this a blip in the overall history of the United States, or something significantly more important and dire. Is Trumplandia more of a Prohibition mistake or is it the death rattle of the traditional American Republic.

Much of what will determine which one of those it is will be what happens next. If Trump manages to right the ship of state and not only survive but thrive, then we may be in a new epoch in our nations history. All the ingredients are there, at least. We have the supine Vichy Republicans giving Trump all the power he likes and we have Trump himself who has a unique ability to connect to the “common man” while at the same time screwing over that very base by destroying the nation’s safety net.

And, yet, at the same time, a fish rots from its head. So, it’s possible that we’re in for an extended period of instability whereby Trump isn’t able to fully consolidate his power for no other reason than his own gaping character flaws.

Should that happen, the thing we will be able to credit is civil society. The political system has failed us dramatically and now the the we have left is comedy, art, drama, music, what have you. That’s pretty much the only thing protecting us from not a dystopian future, but a very real dystopian present.

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

Twitter, Trumplandia & The Need For A Gawker-Like Startup Devoted To Trump

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Right now, as best I can tell, there isn’t a site online devoted to snarky take-downs of Trumplandia and its citizens. For serious journalism, you go to The New York Times or The Washington Post, for liberal hand-wringing about Trumplandia, you go to The New Yorker or New York Magazine.

But there isn’t the type of site I want to read. I want to read a Gawker-like site devoted to thoughtful, yet angry and snarky diatribes about Trumplandia. As the days pass, I find the absence of such a site more and more odd. It’s curious, to say the least. Such an absence may say more about the blog industry than it does the the opportunity to serve that market and audience.

In other words, it could be that the blog industry is so dead in some ways because of saturation that it just doesn’t make economic sense to found the type of startup I suggest. It could be that all the energy that would otherwise be devoted to founding a startup to address Trumplandia in a snarky manner is instead finding an outlet on Twitter.

It could be that Twitter, in a sense, killed the blogging star. Maybe people would rather hash out Trumplandia’s near daily scandal explosions in real time on Twitter rather than read a 500 or 1000 word piece about how we’re all going to hell and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Or it could be that I’m just being really impatient. I started The Trumplandia Report for no other reason than I, myself, wanted this content to read and also I just wasn’t able to properly express myself on Twitter using threads. I needed space to stretch out and a traditional blog seemed the way to go.

Having said all that, I wish someone would found the type of site I want. I can write on this blog all I want to, but very few people, in real terms, are reading it and there’s little I can do at the moment to fix that given my limited personal resources.

It will be very interesting to see how all of this works out. It is odd that there is this gaping hole in the media ecosystem that no one, as of yet, has filled. Right now, if you want want I am suggesting, you watch Stephen Colbert’s monologue or listen to something like Pod Save America.

I guess what I want is a Pod Save America in text that comes out on a regular basis during the course of the day. So, in that sense, it may be up to someone like the folks at Crooked Media to make my personal dream a reality.

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

The Rise Of Trumplandia & The Prospects Of WWIII

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, when I suggest that the rise of Trumplandia may lead to World War III, what I am saying is it is very possible that there may be two major regional wars at the same time — Ukraine and North Korea. It doesn’t take much to imagine a scenario whereby Donald Trump would lash out at North Korea as his dumpsterfire of an administration goes through its final death rattles.

As this was happening, it might be the final thing that causes Russian President Putin to make a serious landgrab against Ukraine. His forces are already in Ukraine as it is, and now that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Europe is on its own now because of Trumplandia and Brexit, it may just be too much for him. Putin may feel he has a historic, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make his dreams of Novorussya a reality. Or, put another way, there is a very real chance that due to the unique nature of Trumplandia that two regional wars may occur because of misunderstandings.

The America press would notice this and market it as World War III.

What is the most troubling is the state of NATO. There are no assurances that Putin will go after Ukraine in a big way when for him a more attainable conquest might be the Baltic states. If Trump is slobbing the knob of the Russians so bad that he can’t even garner up the moral fiber to defend the Baltic states, then all bets are off. That would call into question the entire liberal order established as a result of WWII.

Meanwhile, though it is pretty obvious that America and her allies would win a renewed war with North Korea, that doesn’t mean it would go in a straight line. Any number of disasters could occur, especially if there was a regional conflict going on in Europe at the same time.

The crux of all of this is Trumplandia itself. We live in extraordinary times, when the traditional American party that was strongest when it came to wanting America to be the moral leader of the free world is completely co-opted by that rotting political corpse of Trumplandia. Not since Vichy France has something so odd happened politically.
That is something that is so bizarre that I doubt we will fully understand it any time soon. It’s just crazy.

So, in the darkness of of Trumplandia we really don’t have much hope. We’re going to have to make our own hope. We’re going to have to resist as best we can. We can only hope that the DPRK won’t perfect the ability to put a nuclear bomb on an ICBM before this horrific scenario I propose comes anywhere close to a reality.

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

The Nature & Origins Of Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The central question of the day is how a major industrial nation like the United States managed to elect a highly unqualified reality TV star with a conspicuous penchant for thugs and autocrats as its leader. How did this happen and why? And what do we do next to fix the problems all of this causes?

These are very difficult questions to answer, but I will try to do my best to answer them as briefly as possible. Trumplandia, as I call America under Donald Trump, was born, in part, I believe because of a unique set of circumstances.

Among those circumstances are the hysterical nature of the Right’s opposition to President Obama, an general hatred for Hillary Clinton on a personal level because of her gender and maybe a little bit of national boredom from eight years of “No Drama Obama.”

To me, the core of Trumplandia is how is it that otherwise normal voters bought into the long con of a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue. That’s the crux of this historical moment. And they had their eyes wide open. Trump went out of his way to tell the center-Right who he was. He may have promised them the stars and moon, but he definitely made clear what an asshole he was in the process.

What’s sad is that one a personal level, it’s not like the differences between Trumplandia and The Resistance are going to be fixed anytime soon. Trump has damaged civil discourse on an existential level and it will take many years for it to recover. It’s sad, but true.

Let’s pick apart the different aspects of Trumplandia. We have the racism. Now, I have had more than one conversation with Trumplandia citizens who absolutely refuse to acknowledge that Trump is a fucking racist. They just don’t see it. And it is the racist aspect that is so obvious and yet noting it pretty much shut downs any civil discourse about Trump. But given that Trump was went from being a celebrity to a major politician by peddling a bizarre conspiracy theory about Obama’s land of birth that is central to the existence of Trumplandia.

Then there is the misogyny. Many books are to be written about how America simply wasn’t ready for a woman president, or at least not Hillary Clinton. Clinton was not an ideal candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but she wasn’t an existential threat to the American Republic like Trump is. And, yet, the residents of Trumplandia did not have a problem with that. They made a guttural grunt in Trump’s direction on election day and the rest was history.

The bigotry of Trump against anyone one might consider the “other,” be it Mexicans or Muslims is also a central aspect o the Trumplandia experience. You have to include the word “bigot” when describing Trump because inevitably some Trumplandia person will try to make the case that Trump can’t be a racist because Mexican’s “aren’t a race.” That makes my blood boil, but I add bigot to the litany of charges against Trump to cover that line of reasoning.

Having said all that the case could be made that it was just, on a historical level, the center-Right’s time to run things and no one was prepared for how hysterical it was. So, in that sense, the real failure of the system happened during the Republican primaries when someone like Trump managed to best 15 professional political opponents. That Republican primary voters fell for such an obvious demagogue is something that should give all of us pause for thought.

So, how do we fix this problem?

First, I continue to think that technology may be one way to end the Trumplandia era. Trump is not only FOX News incarnate, he’s also pretty much just a celebrity Twitter troll. Let that sink in for a moment. Perhaps if a new site, one that serve as a “Twitter Killer” came into existence, maybe we could force our leaders to be a bit more cogent online. If it was expected that they were able to write more than 140 characters at any time, then maybe we could expect more from them.

When it comes to ending Trumplandia, one issue that I simply don’t know the answer to is — does The Resistance embrace the progressive movement, or does it bank more towards the center? It seems as if the most basic answer is to embrace the progressive movement, and, yet, the social aspect of that may be difficult to sell to the Trumplandia voter who obviously is cool with a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue. It is difficult to put the genii back in the bottle, as it were.

Trump gets his power from how divisive he is. He forces people to make decisions on a personal level that they never expected to have to make. It is mind blowing to me that people on the center-Right made the cognitive leap to vote for someone like Trump and that a core 30% of them continue to do so, no matter what. Some of this is a tribute to the stability of the American form of government, in that most people vote in November, then forget what about their vote for several more years.

But this election cycle is obviously different. So much smoke is coming out of the Trump Administration, that there are increasing calls for impeachment, barely over a hundred days into the existence of Trumplandia. That core group of 30% is so potent to the political goings-on of Congressional Republicans, however, that it’s unlikely they will do anything about Trump even if it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or his associates are treasonous.

Additionally, the United States has one of the most vibrant civil societies in the world and it is interesting that the first group within that civil society to address Trumplandia effectively has been comedians. That could be the fact that in middle-school the only person willing to stand up to a bully is the class clown, it could be something else. But the fury that comics have thrown at Trumplandia indicates that the American Republic may be a little bit stronger than I am giving it credit for.

Yet, other aspects of pop culture have been relatively quiet since the Trumplandia era began. I mean, where are the movies and songs that are designed to incite The Resistance to action? The silence of both movie and music industries when it comes to Trumplandia is telling. Some of this may come from their longer creative gestation and some of it may come from the simple fact that the Trumplandia infection has not gotten bad enough to evoke a reaction by the average person who doesn’t really think that much about politics. So my hopes for a return to late 60s, early 70s quality movies and music may be a bit presumptive.

Regardless, all of this is going to be serious food for thought for decades to come. The question, of course, is this just a hickup in our Republic’s life, or is this its death knell? That existential question is something that will only be answered in the years and decades to come. It could be that the only the assurance of an open presidential seat every eight years may keep America from slipping irrevocably into autocracy.

Germany No Longer Trusts America Because Of Trump: What Could Go Wrong?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The news out of Europe today is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe can no longer rely upon the United States and that it must go it alone from now on.

This is pretty earth shattering stuff in the context of the last 70 years or so. Of all the possible outcomes of Trumplandia, this is got to be up there with worse case. So not only is Donald Trump trying to establish something of an autocracy domestically, internationally he’s managing to fuck things up pretty well, too.

I always thought that things would go down like this: Trump would meet with Russian President Putin at some point and Trump would lift sanctions on Russia while giving Putin the go-ahead to make a major landgrab in Ukraine, if not elsewhere.

While that’s still a possible outcome, it looks as though there was another possibility that I did not imagine: our allies themselves would get fed up with Trump and decide that they could no longer trust the US to back them up on a strategic level.

This may be looked back upon as the moment when Trumplandia force some serious shifts in public policy in ways that none of us could have expect. There is now the very real possibility that there will be no need for Putin to meet Trump face-to-face. Putin could challenge NATO in a major way — first in Ukraine, then elsewhere — knowing Trump will be so busy talking about crowd sizes and leaks that he won’t have the time, nor the inclination, to do anything about it.

Not to get too bombastic, but the entire liberal post-WWII order is beginning to have a few bolts pop off. This is the first real demonstrative sign that the world is now a lot less safe in the age of Trumpandia. It is possible that Putin will feel so embolden by all this that NATO states in the Baltics may be gobbled up without the United States blinking an eye.

I really don’t what to make of all this. This is one of those events that is so heady and potentially significant that we can’t fully comprehend what it all means right now. We’re going to need some time to digest all of this, see how it plays out.

And, remember, we still haven’t had a major international crisis during the age of Trumplandia. It will interesting to see what Trump does — or doesn’t do — when he actually has to be the leader of the free world. My fear is he will totally not be up to the task and what could otherwise be managed with some proactive diplomacy will devolve into something significantly more serious.

Right now, Ukraine and North Korea are the places I am most concerned about. Ukraine, in particular, is a place where the conditions are now ripe for a major land grab by Russian forces. Maybe I’m being too alarmist about that, but history would suggest otherwise.

Oh, Come On: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Is Bullshitting Us

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said today on one of the morning talk shows that some of the leaks coming out of the White House could be considered, “darn close to treason.”

I call bullshit on that.

I do so because while yes some of the leaks have caused damage, most of them were the result of people deep inside the government so completely freaked out by the bad behavior of high level Trump officials — I’m looking at you Jared Kushner — that they were willing to risk it.

If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, I don’t know what will.

It will be interesting to see if there are any consquences to all these leaks, in the sense of if any of the people doing them will be found and prosecuted. But we’re all looking at each other and worried that maybe there are traitors working in the White House, I think some pointed leaks are worth it.

These are desperate times, and we may look back at this era of Trumplandia with no little amount of regret if you don’t do something and something quick.

Trumplandia Eats Its Own: H.R. McMaster’s Reputation Edition

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The Twitter world is abuzz today with the publishing of a Politico Magazine piece by Thomas E. Ricks. The crux of the article is Ricks no longer believes reputable people like H.R. McMaster can faithfully perform their duties respectfully.

To me, this is kind of a “No duh” moment.

Of course this is the case and the notion that “adults in the room” could get baby man Donald Trump to do anything of note other than talk about the size of his hands or his crowds is pretty crazy. It just isn’t going to happen. Here is one of the more telling moments in the article.

But I have watched and waited, and I don’t see McMaster improving Trump. Rather, what I have seen so far is Trump degrading McMaster. In fact, nothing seems to change Trump. He continues to stumble through his foreign policy—embracing autocrats, alienating allies and embarrassing Americans who understand that NATO has helped keep peace in Europe for more than 65 years.

Thinking over this, I worry that having people like McMaster around Trump simply enables Trump. Mature national security specialists seasoned in the ways of Washington simply lend an air of occasional competence to an otherwise shambolic White House. By appearing before the cameras, looking serious and speaking rationally, they add a veneer of normality to this administration. In the process, they tarnish their own good names.

It’s pretty obvious that Trump is a lost case. No amount of baby sitting is going to get that man to act presidential and if you hang around him he’s only going to inevitably through you — and your reputation — under the bus.

Of course, things would really get serious if Gen. Mattis at Defense were to stepdown. It’s odd that he has been quite quiet during the turbulent birth of Trumplandia. I doubt he will ever resign, though. He’s too good a solider and he would have to be pushed the breaking point for that to happen.

But he a person to keep an eye on.

Regardless, we’ll see. It’ll be interesting to see if McMasters actually does step down or if he remain to try to steady the ship of state. I am not one of those who think Trump will ever be impeached or resign without a huge, epic battle. So, we’re fucked.

We’re all totally fucked and we’re just going to have to make the best of the situation.

Can The Resistance Ever Bridge The Gap With Trumplandia?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

In this age of The Resistance and Trumplandia, it begs the question: can these two sides ever come to some agreement? Is it even possible that The Resistance could woo over enough of Trumplandia to actually win in 2020? Because of a personal history quirk or two, I find myself knowing a few more residents of Trumplandia than perhaps you might expect.

The issue is — Trumplandia is not nearly as a united front as you may expect. Trumplandia contains different factions and ideologies that for various reasons are united by one thing: Donald Trump. The problem The Resistance faces is because of technology (at least in my opinion) the most partisan views are the only ones that thrive. It’s kind of like how because of people not taking their antibiotics properly, there are increasingly resistant strains of major diseases floating around.

Technology causes us to think anyone who doesn’t agree with us is trolling us, when, in fact, the ability to have a cogent conversation with someone who disagrees with you is actually the crux of civil discourse in a democratic Constitutional republic such as ours. This is a problem I’ve seen with both sides. Both sides are at fault on this one.

Each side seems so repulsed by the notion of talking to someone they disagree with that the United States has become almost impossible to govern. The question, of course, is how to fix that? How to bridge that gap? Is there anyway out?

I believe a two prong approach might be right. On one hand, The Resistance really needs to listen to the issues that face the individuals who make up Trumplandia. We can’t dismiss coal miners, or anyone else who serves as Trumplandia’s core. How exactly to go about that is something I find very difficult to understand. The Resistance rightly opposes the racism and bigotry and misogyny that Trump managed to fed upon. Yet we have to stop being so mad about it all that we don’t actually try to talk to the residents of Trumplandia. They aren’t going anywhere and only by trying to understand them can we ever hope to regain power.

Meanwhile, I am still intrigued by the concept of a startup to challenge Twitter. A “Twitter Killer,” if you will. Maybe if we change the question, then the answer will be so fundamentally different that the problem will be fixed a lot easier. This presupposes a lot — no startup is an assured success. And, besides, most VC people are interested in VR and AR now, not social media. So, in the end, we may be talking more about UBI forced upon us because of automation than we will any hypothetical startup.

But let me stress, if we allow our blind fury over the many horrible things that Trumplandia voters have accepted to blind us to them altogether, we’re doomed to failure. Something has to be done. Only after we solve the problem of getting Trumplandia voters to leave their country of the mind will anything happen to end this tragic era in American political life.

The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Where Are All The Protest Songs?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is interesting that in the shock and awe that the birth of Trumplandia has brought, one aspect of civil society that has not really responded much, if at all, is pop music.

While The New York Times and The Washington Post are having a newspaper war to see who can bring the Trump White House down, and the late night talk shows have joke after joke about the surreal nature of Trumplandia, the music business has been rather mum about all of this.

The closest we’ve got to what I suggest we need is “woke pop” as championed by Katy Perry. But where are our protest anthems to chant during massive protests? It is odd that for the most part pop music is rather aggressively apolitical. It’s all very puzzling.

Maybe I’m just being to impatient. Maybe there are marketing reasons for this. Much of the entertainment business is in shock over the triumphant of Trumplandia and so maybe the creative braintrust responsible for pop hits are taking a wait-and-see approach to all of this. I have heard of the occasional protest song being written here and there by some major names, but none of them have punctured my little media bubble.

So, what is likely going to happen is at some point in the near future, a well written and produced protest song will come out of left field and surprise us all. What it will take for this to happen eludes me. Music is a crucial aspect of American political life and it could be that the very forces that have drained all quality out of pop music are the very ones that are preventing us to go from “woke” pop to “protest pop.”

I mean, imagine the cultural consequence of Taylor Swift going rock and performing a cover of “Fortune Son” or something. Something of that magnitude would fundamentally change the music business and potentially force us into an era of good music not seen since the late 60s or early 70s.

But maybe I am being delusional. Maybe the Kraken of pop music jumping into the political fray is something happens only in extreme times when the youth of the nation feel as though they have a vested interest in politics. As you may recall, once the draft was ended by Nixon, much of the wind left the anti-Vietnam War protest movement.

Or maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe it just is going to take some time. Maybe this time next year, we’ll be in a regular pop music Renaissance. But I am not expecting much. Surprise me, Ms. Perry. Excite me, Ms. Swift.