The Atlantic Talks Of Our Dark, Darwinian Global Present.

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarl

I am really impressed by The Atlantic’s use of video, though I think it would make a little bit more sense to have the author’s of articles talk about the article in an inline video, as opposed to having a separate place for video. But maybe they know something about how people interact with content that I don’t.

Regardless, I really liked this video that Atlantic staff writer Uri Friedman did about how Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord is a really dangerous sign of his world view because it means Trump embraces a dark, Darwinian view of international relations.

This, of course, is in step with my own personal view of things. I have long held that we’re in unprecedented times and it doesn’t take much to imagine a scenario whereby we might have two regional wars — Ukraine and Korea — that would be marketed as “World War III.”

Despite how much nerds like me may be aghast at Trump’s decision, the base of Trumplandia probably is pretty pleased with Trump’s decision. There political views typically barely make it beyond a guttural grunt and it makes total sense that they wouldn’t understand the subtle symbolic importance of the United States pulling out of the Paris Accord.

It is all too easy to just say we’re fucked, but, alas, that seems to be where things stand right now: we’re fucked. My only hope, and at this point it isn’t much of one, is that maybe eventually there will be some sort of political cost that Trump will have to pay for his behavior.

It’s unlikely that is going to happen anytime soon for various reasons, chief among them being that the Vichy Republicans are so obsessed with tax cuts for the wealthy and making abortion illegal that they’re totally cool with being callow in the face of Trump’s tyrannical madness.

The sooner we stop laughing at Trump, the sooner we take Trump as a serious threat to the Republic, the sooner The Resistance can figure out what makes Trumplandia tick and prevent the World War III that I suggested might happen.

The Surprisingly Hot Julia Ioffe Talks Trump As ‘Captain Chaos’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I’m quiet impressed with The Atlantic’s Website, which I think recently got a major revamp. When I was growing up The Atlantic and Harper’s were to magazine that only nerds read because they really didn’t seem to have much point, though I always did like Harper’s Index. That was cool.

Well, things have changed.

Now, The Atlantic is kicking ass and taking names and they’re doing a lot of the things that I think a site that would purport to be the “Voice of the Resistance” would do. Great articles dealing with how to address the rise of Trumplandia and content that would help you make sense of it all. I think either a startup or a retooled Playboy be ideal to do be such a site, but if it turns out to be The Atlantic, that’s great.

I am impressed by The Atlantic’s embrace of video. In the below video the surprisingly hot — and smart — Julia Ioffe talks about Donald Trump as “Captain Chaos” who is giving Russian President Putin exactly what he wanted when he meddled in America’s election in 2016 to begin with: someone who would royally screw up America’s position as the leader of the free world.

The only reason why I even mention Ms. Ioffe’s appearance is I don’t see her on TV that much and her Twitter avi isn’t of her, so each time I do see her actual appearance it takes a moment for me to realize that someone so hot is also really smart and witty, at least on Twitter.

Dystopia Watch: We’ve Gone From Pax Americana To FOX Americana

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I am not the person who thought the phrase found in the title of this post up — that inspired word choice goes to someone on Twitter — but it does seem to sum up where we are right now. Not only is FOX News state media, the president seems to be the editorial vision of FOX News squeezed out of a TV in an old folks home and turned into a living, breathing, pussy-grabbing person.

It seems as though the United States has decided to end its moral leadership in the for the sake of, what, ratings? Pandering to a few thousand coal miners in West Virginia? It is all rather staggering. It is enough to knock the wind out of you if you give it too much thought.

Of course, what I’m noticing is the power of Baby Boomers. They are so wrapped up saving for the Apocalypse that FOX News says is about to come, so fearful that the first black president might take their guns, that they are totally cool with a racist, misogynist, bigot being president and ruining the country in the name of MAGA.

This, of course, begs the question — what happened? What happened to all those hippies 50 years ago who wanted to save the world? How is it that the very generation that thought they could levitate the Pentagon with chill vibes, now are hell bent on using the Pentagon to destroy peace and inflict as much damage on the global order as possible

I know that everyone grows more conservative as they grow older, but the bizarre transformation of Baby Boomers into red cap wearing MAGA supporters is pushing it. It does seem as though the late Roger Ailes saw all this coming and realized he could make money and weld enormous power along the way. It does make you wonder who is zooming whom, though. How much of what we’re seeing with FOX Americana is Ailes’ fault and how much of was inevitable given demographic trends.

It’s all very puzzling. There don’t seem to be any answers.

If ever there was a sign of FOX Americana, it’s the fact that Trump allegedly called a FOX News on-air talent to discuss his decision to pull out of the agreement. It seems to be every old codgers wish come true, to be able to talk to the hotties on the teevee about scary things like that damgum Paris Accord.

It’s way too easy to get depressed. It’s way too easy to just want to hide. But we can’t do that. Only by staying engaged can we possible make the difference we need to make to get rid of Trump, even though even if we try with all our might, there is still a decent chance Trump simply isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

But we have to believe, we have to hope. To do otherwise is madness.

An Idle Shout Into The Void: Playboy Should Be The Voice Of The Resistance

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have talked about this at length before, but I figure if I talk about this enough maybe someone, somewhere connected to Playboy Enterprises might at least humor me. I am doing my part for my little corner of the media world with The Trumplandia Report, but I don’t really have the resources to do it right.

In my mind, however, I can see that there is a niche in the media ecosystem that is not be served. That niche is a site that would serve as the effective voice of The Resistance. There are any number of sites right now that I go to, The Atlantic, New York Magazine and The New Yorker to name a few. But none of them have the biting snarkiness of the late Gawker.com.

That’s what I want, I want a site that is snarky, edgy and informative. And, given Playboy’s history of progressive values, it would make a lot of sense if it positioned itself to do as I suggest. It seems inevitable that if an established media company like Playboy doesn’t do what I suggest, then a scrappy startup may do it.

But of all the media outlets out there, it seems Playboy is sufficiently desperate for relevance and buzz that it might be willing to do as I suggest. Doing following the vision I am trying to articulate comes with a certain amount of risk.

There is a very real possibility that you would turn off a lot of readers. But I am of the belief for every reader you’d turn off, you’d pick up two or three more who, like me, are energized in their opposition to Trumplandia and they want quality content that would help them make sense of it all.

But let me stress, no one listens to me and so all of this is an enormous waste of time. Yet is is fun to articulate a vision. It is fun to see if I can catch the attention of someone at Playboy Enterprises, see if I can get someone to listen.

This video goes into a little bit more detail, and I suggest you watch it.

Today Was Surreal, Even In The Age Of Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

We have grown accustomed to surreal things happening in this Age of Trumplandia, but today was even more surreal than usual. The big news, of course, was Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. In a Rose Garden address, he gave a pretty bullshit filled explanation for why he did it. It’s my impression that he, as usual, use the opportunity to explain how great and wonderful his administration has been to date. I don’t know this for a fact because I couldn’t bear to watch the address and so I got my information about it second hand from Twitter.

Generally, Twitter was aghast at Trump’s decision. One thing I’ve been reminded over and over again of late, however, is that just because Trump’s lost Twitter — at least the portion of it I follow — doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have a lot of hardcore followers — Trumplandia, if you will.

So the people of The Resistance on Twitter can circle jerk their anger at Trump all they want to, if they want to effect change, if they want to do anything about Trumplandia, they’re going to have go outside their comfort zone and wade into the surreal crazy waters where Trump is still popular. I say that to myself as much as I do anyone else. It’s tough though, really tough.

Meanwhile, in other surreal news, Devin Nunes, who allegedly had recused himself from leading the House investigation into Tsar-a-Largo, apparently issued some subpoenas not to get to the bottom of that problem, but of another problem dear to his heart — the notion that there was some evil “unmasking” that took place on the part of the Obama Administration. It really is enough to make you say, “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

Put these two events together and you really have a surreal day. We can laugh all we want to at covfefe, but the time for laugher or rage is over. We need to start getting a lot more serious about how we act towards Trumplandia. We need to realize that there is a very real chance that Trump will eventually manage to mitigate, if not overcome his staggering malfeasance to such an extent that he is able to take the damage he’s inflicting on the nation at home and abroad to the next level.

There are alarming signs that he may be able to do just that sooner rather than later. No enormous bombshells have gone off for a few days and he continues to mull a major shake up of White House staff. As people keep saying, a fish rots from its head, so there is also the possibility that Trump can shake things all he wants and his personal inability to be a good president will get in the way.

One thing we can not assume, and that’s the Trump is going anywhere anytime soon. He’s not quitting and he’s not getting impeached. And even if he did get impeached, he’s probably not going to be convicted. We’re stuck with him. We’re stuck with him for at least a sold two years, and I only mention that because the 2018 mid-terms are the first opportunity The Resistance has to do anything about Trump.

But history does not go in a straight line. Russians could hack into the election system again. Trump could wag the dog in the DPRK or Iran. Any number of different things could happen would allow Trump to ease on past the 2018 mid-terms and sprint to 2020 and beyond. That’s why we have to stop raging and start engaging. That’s why we have to stop laughing at Trump and start taking his policies seriously.

The sooner we do these things, the sooner we can put Trumplandia behind us and get to work making America great again, the greatest it had before January 20, 2017.

Complicit: Jesus, Jared & Ivanka Can Suck It

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The fact that the Trump Administration announced that it’s pulling out of the Paris Accord is a death blow to the notion that Ivanka and Jared will be some sort of moderating or mitigating influence on this dumpster fire of a would-be autocracy.

In hindsight, it was all very naive of us to think that just because the couple was apparently, well, sane and urban that they could single-handedly prevent their racist, bigoted, misogynist, nativist relative from swerving the greatest nation in the world into a geopolitical ditch.

I have to admit that I had hope. I had hope that, for no other reason, a woman as smart and attractive as Ivanka wouldn’t allow her dear old dad monumentally fuck things up. And yet today’s announcement lays waste to any hope that that might be the case.

We officially have our answer. Either Ivanka and Jared are completely complicit in the worst aspects of Trumplandia, or they have zero real power. Neither one of these possibilities put the couple in a good light. If they’re complicit, then we have to see them as a part of the problem. If they’re powerless, then we can sit around hoping they will prevent, well, prevent events like pulling out of the Paris Accord from happening.

This tweet doesn’t really make me feel any better.

If that tweet is accurate, then I guess we have our answer: they’re complicit. When the history books of this time are written, hopefully this mystery of how it is that people like Ivanka and Jared could allow themselves to be sucked into the black void of Trumplandia. How did this happen?

What is even more of a struggle to understand is how in Trumplandia a Jewish holiday can be so significant to policy making…and yet Donald Trump is best buds with an avowed anti-Semite like Steve Bannon. It is a struggle for me to grapple with this paradox. It seems as though in the world of Trumplandia you really can have it both ways.

Your daughter can be Jewish and you can associate closely with anti-Semites. That is one of the many ways Trumplandia is ideologically perplexing and slippery. It is easy for Trumplandia apologists to say both things that I just suggested can’t be true. And, yet, it is self evident that they are, in fact, true.

If all of this means anything, it’s that there will be no secret saviors in the Trumplandia Era. Our only hope is to engage, to organize, to fight and to have hope that despite everything, despite the obstacles, that the moral arc of history does, in fact, bend towards justice.

If we assume that anything else is the case, then we’re deluding ourselves. We have to fight the good fight. We have to, on an individual level do what we can to make sure that in 2018 we flip Congress. There are no assurances this will happen, but we have to have hope. We have to.

Don’t Rage, Engage: Who Are The People Of Trumplandia?

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

As I have mentioned before, I am looking for to help me write this blog.I have very low expectations for various reasons and at this point, I don’t even know how much longer I will find the energy to continue such a seemingly meaningless exercise.

But this blog still a little bit fun despite virtually no one reading it, and I posted to Craig’s List recently, hoping to find someone willing to write for free while I grew the product. Well, all I can say is apparently only Trump supporters are willing to write for free.

Everyone who has answered my call for writers have in very eager, earnest ways explained that they’re only interested in attacking, well, people like me. I feel like shooting off an email telling them, “You’re everything wrong with America right now,” but that wouldn’t be cool and would only make things worse.

So, I am quiet.

But it does make me a little bit uneasy. It reminds me that just because all the people I follow on Twitter agree with me, doesn’t mean there is any universal consensus about Donald Trump. In fact, it’s abundantly clear that Trumplandia is a live and well.

There continue to be a surprisingly large number of people who really support Trump to this day and they are eager to say so. People like me got burned during the 2016 campaign cycle by bots and paid trolls, so we have come to assume that anyone who disagrees with us is one of those two options.

Yet, obviously, that is not the case. Obviously, there are, in fact, actual live human beings who continue to support Trump despite everything. Despite all the cold hard facts that would seemingly make it impossible for any right minded person to continue to support Trump, there are, in fact, people who do.

This is the point where I scratch my head and don’t know what to say. We have reached a level of polarization in the United States body politic, a level of tribal politics that I can’t even grasp the logic behind someone supporting Trump. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t empathize with a Trump supporter because I can’t grasp their world view in all its surreal glory.

Given that civil discourse in a liberal democracy requires that the center-Left and the center-Right be able to talk to each other at least to the extent necessary to come to some sort of synthesis, some sort of compromise, this is a dangerous realization. If a person like me — who strives to attain some sort of understanding of people I disagree with can’t understand the reasoning of people on the other end of the political spectrum, we’re all completely fucked.

And, really, that’s where Donald Trump gets his power. You can tell me all you want to about how mean liberals like me cause “Trump curious” people decide to throw their lot with Trump completely, but the people of Trumplandia have to, at some point, take responsibility for this problem as well. It would be a lot easier for me if Trumplandia people would, like, chill out and at least attempt to form an opinion based in fact, not some sort of guttural opposition to progress.

But it doesn’t seem like this is going to happen anytime soon. Trump isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the sooner people like me understand that, the better. It’s going to be tough, though. People like me too easily assume Trump will quit or be impeached and convicted and all of this will go away like a bad nightmare.

That, sadly, isn’t going to happen. This is a nightmare that we can’t shake. I wish there was an easy answer to these problems that we face, these difference of opinions that divide The Resistance from Trumplandia, but that is just not going to happen anytime soon.

We’re going to have to find a way to meet the residents of Trumplandia halfway. Only by doing that will we be able to mitigate the tribal politics that give Trump his power. If we don’t crack this nut soon, we may wake up eight years from now with Trump doing a victory tour and someone even worse than Trump by his side, accepting the Republican nomination.

If that doesn’t clear the mind, I don’t know what will.

Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He is always looking for new writers. He can’t pay, but you’ll get experience. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

The Damage Wrought By The Trump Administration May Be Irrevocable

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The truly frightening thing about the Trump Administration is the damage it inflicts upon the United States both domestically and internationally may be irrevocable. The damage might have been mitigated if Congress wasn’t run by Vichy Republicans, but, alas, that’s just not the case.

With Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Accords, the United States has now begun a dangerous, unprecedented journey into unprecedented and turbulent waters. What’s worse, for the residents of Trumplandia, they see Trump’s decision to pull out of the accords as yet another campaign promise kept.

All of this is pretty surreal to me. The very people who 20 or 30 years ago would have called for the head of anyone who so willfully played into the strategic aims of the Russians, now applaud someone who seems hell bent on completely upending some pretty core beliefs that the people we once considered the Part of Reagan were supposed to hold so dear.

Again, I have to reflect on how similar all of this is to Vichy France. This is a truly bizarre situation politically and it’s even more bizarre given that it takes four years to get out of the Paris Accords and we won’t be officially out of them until the day after election day in 2020.

What concerns me the most is that while we’re all so busy falloning over the latest comical screw up on the part of Donald Trump, we’re going to totally miss the significant, long-term damage Trump is going to inflict upon us. The only thing I can compare this to is a even more damaging version of the Reagan Revolution of 1981 that caused so much harm to the American middle class.

We may very look back at this period as the moment when not only did America grow sicker, poorer and less educated, but we lurched towards an semi-imperial autocratic form of government, with the Constitutionally mandated open presidential seat every eight years being the only thing the only thing that prevent us from conspicuously no longer being a republic.

The truly horrific quality to all of this is there a slow-moving train crash quality to it all. We can see what is happening, but because of the callow, complicit nature of the Vichy Republicans, there is little, if nothing, we can do in real terms to stop what we’re seeing and experiencing.

With America in retreat, there now exists a moral power vacuum. A land rush is now happening as different regional powers struggle and jostle to figure out where they stand in this new reality. Even if the United States at some point in the future came roaring back through effective leadership, the damage is already done. And that doesn’t even begin to address the chaos we’ll have to live through should the DPRK attack South Korea or Russia attack Ukraine in a general war.

So, this has stopped being funny to me. I’m not saying I won’t laugh when Stephen Colbert tears into Trump during his monologue, but we’ve reached the point where there is officially a serious edge to things. We have a mad, tyrannical emperor on our hands whose only check is his own egregious incompetence and active malfeasance.

If there’s anything we can do to fix this situation, it is to actively use our rights while we still have them. Don’t rage, engage. Keep fighting the good fight. Don’t lose hope. I would like to think that the American spirit is stronger even than a president with unchecked power because of the surreal obsequiousness of his party.

Americans aren’t Russians, so you can spout all the political theory you like at me about how easy it will be for Trump to inflict a “managed democracy” on the United States through the tried and true methods of a modern autocracy, I just don’t buy it.

I’m not saying that Trump will be impeached. Nor am I saying that even if he is impeached that he will be convicted. I am saying, however, that while I honesty do fear for the fate of the Republic, that I fear my long-standing worry that Trump is an existential threat to its continued success is being realized, I also have an innate hope that we’ll bounce back a lot quicker than anyone might expect.

I just don’t see the American people standing for the dystopian reality that is too easy for me to project. It just seems like something’s gotta give eventually. I don’t know what it will be, but it seems like even if we’re living in an autocracy now, that the traditional ebb and flow of American politics will simply be too great for it to last.

We survived the Civil War, we survived Prohibition and we’ll survive this.

I hope.

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

Let’s Face It, Trump Probably Isn’t Going To Get Impeached

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

A cold hard fact of modern American politics is the Republicans are so complicit, so Vichy in their support for the possibly treasonous administration of Donald Trump that we’re stuck with Trump for a solid two years, if not longer.

The conditions that have brought us to this point are so complex that they probably would require a few fairly long books to fully detail. The United States is so politically polarized — and the Right so well organized when it comes to a culture of faux victimization — that even if it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump personally colluded with the Russians, he just ain’t getting impeached anytime soon.

And I am not one who believes there is any assurance that there will be a “Blue Wave” in 2018. It could be that there will be a lot talk but for various reasons nothing will happen. That two, four, six years from now we’ll still be talking about how if only this or that thing happened Trump will be impeached.

What’s more, remember that even if Trump was impeached by the House, it doesn’t mean he would be convicted by the Senate. That’s something that’s never happened in our nation’s history and since Trump will never resign, his conviction would be the only way to get rid of him.

We’re entering a surreal time in our nation’s political history where we’re so polarized that while about half the nation is openly talking about collusion, treason and impeachment then conviction, the other half think it’s just an evil plot by unpatriotic loser liberals who are looking for a reason to explain their unexpected Electoral College loss.

It’s all enough to leave you bewildered.

Even worse from my point of view, there’s no reason to believe Trump won’t right his personal ship of state and not only survive, but prosper. He may very well serve out his term and manage to use his weirdly adroit political skill to get Mike Pence elected as his successor.

A lot of my worry about this possible scenario comes from the division and weakness of The Resistance. The Democratic Party is split between the liberal Hillary Clinton wing and the social democratic Bernie Sanders wing and it’s easy to imagine that rift opening up to such an extent that a major center-Left independent candidate would run in 2020 and we’d really be fucked.

History rarely goes in a straight line, so there are any number of different ways things might play out. An unexpected strong candidate out of left field like Jon Stewart might throw a lot of my personal assumptions out the window.

But my main concern is that the United States isn’t a liberal democracy anymore. That we’ve entered a new epoch in our history where the only thing that prevents us from being a semi-imperial autocracy is the fact that there’s an assured open presidential seat every eight years. When the final political history of the United States is written that quirk of our Constitutional system may be seen as the thing that made it more difficult for us to realize that we had finally evolved out of our traditional republican roots.

The really scary thing about the Trump Administration is there is a real risk that it will do irrevocable harm to the country in ways that may take generations to fix. Our decades old reputation as the moral leader of the free world may be gone for good. It might require some exceptional leadership on the part of future presidents to bring that back and the system we have now is so corrupt that it’s unlikely that is going to happen anytime soon.

If it weren’t for that particular aspect, the Trump Administration wouldn’t be so scary. The thing about Trump is it’s too easy to fall into the trap of falloning him when he tweets something like covfefe to such an extent that we totally lose sight of him leaving the Paris Accords or appointing psychopathic Federal judges or whatever. The amount of damage Trump can inflict on the republic is so wide and deep that it is breathtaking.

What’s even more disheartening is there is really no recourse other than being politically engaged. As I have begun to say at every opportunity: Don’t rage, engage. Do your civic duty on an individual level to help, even in a small way, the continuance of our civil society. Don’t assume that just because someone disagrees with you that they are trolling you. Vote. Protest. Speak out when given the opportunity. Call your Representative and Senator on a regular basis.

The strength of American civil society is pretty much all we got at this point. It may take generations for the full impact of the Trump Administration to be fully understood. But don’t have any regrets. Don’t look back and realize you didn’t do your part to prevent a dystopia from being not just the thing of fanciful dreams, but a very cold, hard reality.

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

Like, What The Fuck Is Wrong With Sean Hannity?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I am growing more and more troubled by the completely meltdown freakout taking place at FOX News, specifically as typified by one Sean Hannity. The man has lost it. He’s growing unhinged. And none of it seems to make any sense.

It all started a few weeks ago when Hannity started to tout the bizarre conspiracy theory associated with the tragic death of Seth Rich. According to this completely boners conspiracy theory, Rich was murdered at the behest of John Podesta because he was the source of all the emails that Wikileaks kept pumping out during the campaign. It’s all really horrible and makes me wince even having to explain what it is that Hannity is babbling on about.

Because of his talking up this conspiracy theory, he has begun to lose advertisers and rightfully so. He’s destroying any credibility he may have had and I fear he’s putting the lives of people like John Podesta at risk. It’s almost as if he’s baiting our conspiracy-loving president into picking up the cause.

Now, as his show begins its seemingly inevitable death rattles, Hannity has vowed to go after the advertisers of the Left leaning Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert. Such hysterical vindictiveness does no one any good, especially Hannity himself.

This, of course, brings up a more potent issue: what is the origin of this surreal behavior on the party of Hannity and his ilk in the first place? What drives them to go so far into a surreal netherworld of Rightwing fantasies that they completely lose touch with reality and start to seem as though they want to cause trouble just for the sake of causing trouble.

I know a few people like Hannity and even though they’re guy won, you wouldn’t know it from talking to them. Even though Trump seems intent destroying the post World War II global liberal order and has the means to do it, they act like caged rats. They rhetoric and ideology — such as it is — would make you think they had to worry about the state police coming after them in the middle of the night.

If anything explains what I mean by the term “Trumplandia” it’s Hannity’s current behavior. It has no place in public discourse, much less TV news and his complete Howard Beal meltdown is a real risk to civil society. But I am at a loss to explain where it all comes from. I’m at a loss to explain the origin of it all. The source of all this batshit behavior is so mysterious that if we could finally pin it down, we might be able to get a huge step closer to fixing the enormous political mess we find ourselves in as a Republic.

Anyway, I just don’t know. It’s all so weird, and the thinking is so nonsensical relative to my world view that it feels like some sort of weird meta-troll. But, alas, it’s not. It’s all very serious and we’re all going to have to deal with the consequences regardless if we want to or not.