V-Log: A Deep Dive Into America’s Political Woes

Some thoughts.

V-Log: Idle, Incoherent Rambling About #Writing A #Novel, #Trump & #Feminism #WritingLife #AmWriting #WritingCommunity

Some thoughts.

What The Tipping Point On Impeachment Might Look Like

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

One thing about impeachment is it’s so alien to how Americans think about their relationship to the president that they just don’t really understand it. A president is elected for four years and that’s that. But if Trump keeps it up, there’s chance we’ll reach a tipping point.

The tipping point can be summed up with people going from, “Oh, why would we get rid of Trump early? The election is next year,” to “You mean we could get rid of Trump immediately?” The would be a macro change in public opinion. It would be how the press frames the debate. It would also mean that Trump’s support among Independents had finally jumped off a precipice.

But it’s debatable as to how likely it is that this would actually happen. Yet, Trump is really bad at his job and he hasn’t actually lost his mind yet. So, maybe?

Sondland Has Given Us A Downlow ‘Holy Shit!’ Moment

Shelton Bumgarner
No QUiD PrO QuO…Oh, nevermind.

by Shelton Bumgarner

Get this — Ambassador Sondland is going to say is going to say that Trump did, in fact dictate to him the “no quid pro quo” text, but that he took it at face value and did not know for a fact that this was the case.

What’s more, he believes that while there may have been a quid pro quot, it was not “criminal” in nature.

There’s a lot to unpack here. This is a very lawyerly way of answering the question. I know this and I’m not even a lawyer. What he wants to do is stake out the idea that lulz, quid pro quo! Or somehow excuse both himself and the president of any criminal wrongdoing. There is a big problem with this thinking, though — it’s easy to call bullshit on it in a single tweet.

This is not a complex thing to explain. Law Twitter could explain how bonkers this defense is very easily — and probably will, over and over and over and over again.

For any other president, this would be a significant blow. But FOX News exists and Blue States and Red States are growing to hate each other with a white hot rage because of, well, fucking Trump, so I dunno what will happen.

Probably nothing.


Imagining An Ivanka Trump Presidency

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Oh, Ivanka. You so crave the presidency so much. Your stringbean husband with a warbling voice, too, craves that position but he has the stage presence of a gnat. But let’s supposed she gets her wish. Let’s look at how she might get it and what might happen.

First, we have to accept that she’s not going anywhere. You can’t be as directly connected to the levers of power as she has without having some serious long-term electoral prospects. She’s barely 35 and has 40 odd years to make her dream a reality. But she’s a member of House Trump, so, of course, she probably wants it now, now, now.

The first possibility that comes to mind is Pence appoints her his veep in a sop to the MAGA base. In fact, the things you have to address in any daydream about her becoming president is how she would be able to get the ignorant mouthbreathers (or plutocrats) of MAGA to accept her as they have her father. A lot depends on Ivanka not having any type of fight with her brother about “who gets the base” once her father is no longer politically viable. Seems to me that Don Jr. is much better positioned to get the base and as such the presidency, but lulz.

Ok, back to her being Veep. There are about a half dozen paths for her to become president should House Trump’s leader find his political prospects imploade. I could see Pence naming her Veep to placate her Daddy as a way to ease him out of office. Or…the list goes on.

But let’s say in early 2020, Ivanka is president. She at least seems to be the most put-together of House Trump. But she is only about 36 or so. To date, she’s had the perfect equation of all the power and none of the responsibility. She would find herself in something of a bind, however. She at least superficially appears somewhat moderate and fact-based, so there’s a real chance that her political honeymoon might be counted in days. The MAGA base will flip out when she doesn’t babble about a fucking wall or isn’t the bonkers orator that her father is.

Meanwhile, the center-Left will despise her on a personal level. They will resent not only how she never spoke up during her father’s presidency, but that she would be the first female president only because of the influence of her hateful father. Her Administration would likely crater so bad that she wouldn’t get the Republican nomination. She would limp politically to Jan. 20, 2021. Republicans would point to her administration as to why women should never be president.

But, remember, she’s not going anywhere. Maybe it’s not immediately. Maybe she simply lurks in Republican Administrations for a decade or two and then pops out when she’s 50 or so. That’s a very real possibility.

I can only get comfort in the fact that being president doesn’t exactly do wonders for your looks. So, honey, get ready to get really, really old really, really fast if you should happen to become president anytime soon.

Downfall, Maybe: The Constitution As Trump’s ‘Operation Barbarossa’

Best case scenario?
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Comparing Trump to Hitler is something I have done a lot of in the past, but let’s look not at his policies, but Trump the tactician. It’s eerie how well one could overlay the progress of Hitler’s career in Europe over that of Trump’s political career to date.

Hitler believed in the “leadership principle.” He thought as leader he had a near God-like ability to lead the Fatherland to his dystopian vision of Europe free of Jews, Bolsheviks and Slavs. The Arans would turn Pols and the French into little more than slave labor. Most of Russia west of the Urals would be repopulated with the Master Race.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit. Hitler was not insane. He was a very evil person, but he was not insane — which makes him worse. He was very lucky, too. His biggest mistakes were not really strategy, but bending the needs of the war effort to those of his own ideological desires. It was his invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, that was his downfall. He could have gone south east through Turkey into the oil fields of the Middle East and into India. But his kooky ideas about the Jewish-Bolsheviks of the Soviet Union forced his hand in a pretty astonishing fashion.

Now, let’s look at Trump. The interesting thing is Trump is a moron. He’s simply a symptom of some fundimental rot in the American political system. So, you could say that his victory in 2016 was almost like Hitler’s surprise victory over the French in 1940. So, for the last few years, Trump has dominated America much like Hitler did Europe after the fall of the French Third Republic.

This grows even more interesting when you realize that while Hitler had his craven desire to murder people for ideological reasons as an existential flaw, with Trump it’s cheating to win. Combine his stupidity and cluelessness with a deranged 2-year-old’s need to win at any cost and, well, you have him calling up the president of Ukraine 24 hours after Chris Wallace gave him a political pardon after the “bad optics” of Mueller’s testimony.

So, while it’s definitely an extended metaphor, you could argue that the Constitution itself may be Trump’s Russia. It’s not kids in cages. It’s not the 12,000 lies. It’s not the harsh and cruel policies that Trump loves, loves, loves. It’s Trump himself. It’s Trump’s complete inability to uphold his oath of office. His complete, criminal inability to “grow into the office” that might, just might, be his downfall.

And with that, we reach the final question of this gratuitously extended metaphor — what will be Trump’s Stalingrad? What will be the final thing to break his iron hold on the cult that was formerly known as the Republican Party?

Well, as of right now, it doesn’t look like that is ever going to happen. Moscow Mitch will have a 20 minute trial, the Republican line will hold in the Senate and I find myself in a re-education camp just about the time I had hoped to try to sell my spec novel.

But Stalingrad did, in fact, happen. So there’s … hope? All I can think of is Trump again owns himself. But this time he loses his mind. He finally snaps. He goes completely bonkers to such an extent that the normal laws of American politics begin to finally, finally snap back into place. Or maybe after weeks of enormous revelations as part of the House’s impeachment proceedings the sheer absolute pressure of the rage of 60+% of the electorate is enough to wipe the perpetual smug grin off Moscow Mitch’s face.

I just don’t know. I’m not prepared to predict the endgame, either way. All I can say is, though, if we can’t convict Trump in the Senate then that’s all she wrote. Start making contingency plans for hiding in people’s attics if you aren’t MAGA.

Would be pretty funny, though, if both Hitler and Trump were brought down because of shenanigans in the general Ukraine area.

The Misunderstood Legacy Of Watergate

Now what you think.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Watergate gave us a false sense of how easy it might be to shame a president out of office. In a way, we can blame this on Sen. Barry Goldwater. It was he who organized a trip to the White House in August 1974 to tell Nixon it was time to go — he didn’t have the votes.

But, really, the now expected endgame of Watergate in all likelihood was not an example of “the system working” as was often said in post-Watergate America. In fact, it’s the opposite — Nixon resigning short-circuited the Constitutional process. We would have been better off decades later if Nixon had allowed the process of trial to take place. We would have a far more better understanding of how the impeachment process could successfully work.

And now here we are in 2019. Everything is different than 1974. Fox News exists. This is happening as a presidential cycle is reving up, not as midterms approach. Apologists for Trumplandia simply want to run out the clock in the name of “fairness.” They don’t give a shit about fairness, all they care about is getting us so far into 2020 that Trump survives to win re-election corruptly.

Bill Barr hasn’t even done a criminal referral for a sweeping list of notable anti-Trump names. What better way to end an impeachment process than to indict Hillary Clinton for “secretly” being behind the claim that Russians colluded with the Trump campaign. That’s a real possibility at this point. Let that sink in.

As I keep ranting about to anyone who will listen — not only is Trump not some sort of political genius, he’s also his own worst enemy. He has an entire support apparatus at his beck and call and he still may not get impeached but convicted. That’s a pretty astonishing — if cold hard — fact.

But he may still survive.

Of course, purging Trump is just the first step. All the dangers associated with MAGA are still going to be there. Kris Kobach and Tom Cotton have be watching and taking notes about what worked with Trump and what didn’t. So, keep your political powder dry, folks.

Radical Resistance, Beware Conservatives Bringing ‘Gifts’

It’s come to this.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have a lot of respect for some of the more notable “#NeverTrump” Republicans on Twitter. And to a large extent, the following is not about them. This is more about the weird amalgam of “objective” commentators who think if only House Democrats would do this or that thing then everything would work out.

First, let’s get some stuff out of the way — there are a shit ton of people who do not want Trump impeached and or convicted. And, to be honest, there is simply no way they will ever change their minds. They have a vested interest in the MAGA grift on a personal level and, well, fuck you.

So, when they passionately articulate for thousands of words this or that bullshit reason that Democrats are doing it all wrong, I suggest you take it with a grain of salt. They wrap up their strategic goal — keeping Trump in office for a full eight years — in what seem to be logical tactical moves to impeach and convict Trump.

A big talking point among these assholes is Democrats need to “slow down.” This is taking a playbook from the gun lobby. What they really want is there to be no momentum. By that point it will be mid-2020 and, lulz, let the people decide sucker! They also get really bent out of shape about the impeachment drive coming off as “political.” This is a lulz given that the entire process is meant to be a political punishment.

And, really, the key thing is — they want to give Republicans, who are already asymmetrically radicalized — an absolute veto over any decision to impeach and convict Trump. They simply don’t see any successful political effort to end the cancerous Trump Administration early as a win for anyone but Democrats. That it might be a win for the nation doesn’t even enter their minds.

A key issue is that the clock is ticking. And, to date, House Democrats have actually done the things they should be doing. I think they should lean into “inherent contempt” now, but that’s just me. That is kind of a nuclear option that would likely have fucktwit MAGA people reaching for their AR-15s.

What happens next? I dunno. But I might gently suggest that some of the hack political talking head on cable news stop bickering about the 2020 race and start to prepare the nation for what was unthinkable just a few weeks ago — Trump could actually be convicted in the Senate. What’s more, we’re just at the beginning of this clusterfuck. There might be a cascading effect whereby Pence, too, leaves office pretty abruptly.

I worry that at the end of all of this we wake up to a President Ivanka, but that’s more me simply always assuming the absolute worst than anything else.

I hope.

Why Has Ambassador Gordon Sondland Agreed To Testify?

Hold your horses…
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

As I understand it, it’s Ambassador Sondland who is the guy who made it CLEAR in the released text messages that Trump did not want a quid pro quo. He’s testifying against the direction of State, so there are some on Twitter who are oohing and ahhing that this some sort of crack in the case.

Sadly, no.


He’s not releasing any documents.
He’s already had a tet-a-tet with Sec. Pompeo.
He’s on the record saying no quid pro quo.

All he has to do is show up, make it clear there was — at least in his mind — no quid pro quo and it’s a win for House Trump. Or at least the optics will be. We won’t know what he said to Trump in the time leading up to the “No quid quo pro!” text.

Thus, theoretically, Ambassador Sondland could lie, or bob and weave, and give Chris Wallace all the bad-optics-for-impeachment he wants and the air will leave the impeachment proceedings as quickly as they arrived. The only reason why I still have any hope is that the House Democrats are interviewing other people involved in quick succession, so…I dunno?

Pacing Out Pence’s Political Strategy

Pence, Yeah You Know Me.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

On a surface level, VP Mike Pence is sitting pretty. He’s a Constitutional officer and all he has to do is not get fired from the ticket in 2020. That’s it. That’s all he has to do. As long he can swat Ivanka and Jared away long enough to be on the ticket again, he’s got a straight shot to the presidency in 2024.

And, yet.

There’s a problem. A big problem — Trump.

So, this makes things more complicated. If Trump gets both impeached and convicted, then Pence, in a sense, is the ultimate winner. But this “winning” brings with it some serious, complex problems. Pence if he wants to win as a conventional pol will have to at least attempt to reach out to the 60 odd percent of the electorate who are likely to hate his guts by the time Trump is finally removed from office by the Senate. At the same time, he has to worry about alienating the MAGA base of whom he really only has a solid claim to a subset of, the Evangelical vote. Compared to the always entertaining in a bonkers way Trump, Pence is actually just a very conservative traditional Republican.

A President Pence going into the 2020 election cycle would have half a dozen challengers coming at him from the MAGA right. All of them willing to be just a nuts as Trump, but also younger and more passionate in their hatred of brown people.

And, then, there’s the existential issue of giving Trump a Nixon-level pardon post presidency. That’s a question I simply can’t answer knowing what I know superficially. Logically, Pence would given Trump a full pardon and then simply try to tell it in a more articulate manner than Ford did. Or he could try to dodge the question until after the election and turn around and do just that. His thinking would be people would be luzling his pardon by the time he ran again in 2024. If he doesn’t pardon Trump and he is convicted by, say, the SDNY or New York State then, wow. That would be a pretty out-of-character and, relative to the base, dick move.

Pence wants it both ways. He wants to show absolute fealty to The Dear Leader while at the same time having the option of using his traditional pol skillset to hoodwink more moderate independants. The only problem for him there is, well, he’s so astonishingly conservative relative to the practical center of modern American politics that him trying to pull a fast one on enough middle aged center-Left women to get re-elected is debatable.

What’s more, there are some serious landmines lurking out there in the near future. Roe could be overturned. ObamaCare could be overturned. Or both of them could be overturned. If anything like that happened, it would roll the American political system in some unprecedented ways.

But, in general, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have some hunches, but we’ll know more when Trump’s political fate is ultimately decided.