Strangers In The Night

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

By pretty much every metric a “normal” person would use on me, I’m a delusional weirdo currently living one of the more rural corners of a purple fly over state. That’s my reality.

So, as I proceed, keep in mind that I am well aware that I am probably just imagining things. It could all just be me jumping to huge conclusions. I’m using pretty prosaic datapoints and then weaving something out of the ordinary from them.

Anyway, I’ve been contacting a few well-known women the last few days for various reasons connected — and not connected — to the novel I’m developing. Jodi Kantor of the NYT gave me a polite one-line sentence email indicating that I wasn’t worth her time. That’s fair. I am going to exact my revenge, however, by doing everything in my power to have a character who’s professional life is greatly inspired by hers fall in love with a proxy me. Take that, successful investigative journalist!

Then someone obviously using a burner account on Instagram contacted me out of the blue tonight. Given that 99.99999999% of the time anyone who contacts me out of the blue on Instagram is either a troll or absolutely, completely insane, I blocked the account without even thinking about it. No point in wasting my time by engaging the person, whomever they may be.

But the event lingered in my mind. I have an extremely over-active imagination and I started to muse that it might be someone famous who wanted to talk to me, but just not via their official account. The rest of this bit of the post is more about me weighing what famous woman thinks about when contacting someone like me than any notion that that is at all what was going on.

I guess if you were a famous woman intrigued by a weirdo like me and you wanted to contact me you would check out my Instagram and then maybe setup a burner account simply to chat for a moment? Why they wouldn’t be willing say hey with their real account eludes me. But I don’t think that’s what happened. It was probably just my usual insane people trying to bother me. Shrug.

Anyway, enough of that.

The ‘Known Unknowns’ Of The Impeachment Process Endgame

Our Future.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

On a strictly political level, I feel confident in saying Trump is safe. He will be impeached by the House, acquitted by the Senate and be given yet ANOTHER political pardon for him to instantly abuse. He’ll grow far more brazen. He’ll pardon everyone he needs to, get Barr to indict an array of his political opponents, get Russians to directly hack into our election systems or get some MAGA plutocrat to bribe Electors as need be.


But there are some known unknowns I can’t possibly case out.

Trump’s Mental State
He’s already hysterical and he hasn’t even been formally impeached yet. So, there’s at least a reasonable chance his mental state could explode, not implode. He’ll grow transactional with his Twitter feed, especially in regards to the Whistleblower. Things may get so bad that it’s not the politics of impeachment that is Trump’s downfall, it’s that he’s completely bonkers and the 25th Amendment is a currently a dead letter.

The Fate Of The Whistleblower
While it might be an immediate goal of Congressional Republicans to out the Whistlebower so they can make impeachment about him and his motives, it’s reasonable to believe that will only work with the 35% MAGA base. Everyone else will be able to process that even though the Whistleblower has some professional connection to both Biden and Susan Rice, Trump still, in fact, did crimes against the Constitution that warrant his removal from office. This is really tricky, given that on an institutional level The New York Times continues to carry water for House Trump. (See, also, Maggie Haberman.) So, maybe it’ll work. But maybe it won’t. Who knows. The fate of the Republic hinges on the answer to this question, but lulz. Optics! The Whistleblower is murdered in cold blood by a MAGA fuckwit because of a throwaway line by Trump, then the criminal fascist Republican Party will in the position to finally have to defend Trump directly leading to someone’s murder. They’ll do it, too. They will win the news cycle, but there’s a good chance that their argument — that we have to end impeachment because people are dying — may not actually be as effective as they believe.

General Rat-Fucking By Republicans
Republicans are criminal fascists. They don’t believe in either liberal democracy or civil society. They only believe in power and making as much money as possible to the detriment to the nation as a whole. Barr could hand down bogus criminal referrals at any moment. All they want is to maintain power. They are willing to destroy everything to further that goal. Nothing is off limits. This will grow ever more so as there fucking moron of a leader grows more and more hysterical.

It’s because of these factors that I simply can’t case out the impeachment endgame. If this was any other person as president, I would resign myself to darkness finally falling across the land. I would assume I’d die at some point in Trump’s second term at an ICE Camp with a bullet to the back of the head. While that still may happen, we’re still at the beginning of the process.

Buckle up.

The Worst Of Times, The Best Of Times — Two Impeachment Endgames

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I love running scenarios in my mind. In fact, I’m kind of obsessed with it. When it comes to impeachment, however, as of right now it’s impossible for me to come up with an endgame. Both possible outcomes have such factual reasons for one to believe they will happen that I’m not going to try to pin down one. Here are both scenarios. You can figure out for yourself which one is more likely at this point.

The Thousand Year Trump

Jan. 20, 2025

Though it was an unusually warm January day, Donald Trump was, as usual, grumpy. Kim Jung Un had walked with him down Pennsylvania Ave in a spirit of world peace. Press Secretary Hugh Hewitt gushed on Fox News that Trump’s friendship with Kim assured “a thousand years” of peace and prosperity across the globe. Trump had finally bested all his opponents — even the Constitution — and was now about to begin his third term. Much of his the mid-part of this second administration had been consumed with a snap Constitutional Convention he had managed to force the convening of under the pretext of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Of course that was a ruse. The Convention went rouge and radically transformed the Constitution into a Federalist Society wet dream. Among the many “improvements” was his personal ability to run for as many terms as he liked. Trump had weighed not running for a third term because of his age, but his ego, as always, won out. He did decide to name Ivanka his Veep and Don Jr., Sec. of State.

Trump allowed himself a moment of rare introspection. DHS Sec. Stephen Miller was now “disappearing” vocal critics of the House Trump on a regular basis. Miller was building ICE camps so fast it was growing difficult to hide the pictures from the People’s Assembly. The residents of some of the more populous military districts were unhappy, but they were always unhappy. He smirked at the notion of “blue states” and how quaint it seemed now.

Trump had finally crushed The New York Times when Peter Thiel offered Pinch an sum so enormous that he felt forced to sell. Though a lot of the more liberal reporters had left The Times, its new executive editor Maggie Haberman assured that he would get the coverage from the paper that he had so long craved.

The United States was now great. About half the wall had been built to the tune of a $1 trillian. The massive public works had helped ease the nation’s pain during the Second Great Recession. Trump was also pleased that the new Internet PIN was being rolled out. The Kurdish terrorist attacks in LA had helped push that measure through quite nicely.

Trump was at last a man in full. He had absolute power in the United States. He had founded a political dynasty that would last a thousand years. Occasionally Trump would, just to troll FOX News, shoot out a dick pic or tweet the n-word. He needed to do something big soon, Obama’s treason trial was about to be broadcast and he hated the idea of Obama being the center of attention, even it was entertaining to see him in the dock.

Trump was alone at last in the Oval when the door opened. He smiled broadly — Putin would finally get to sit at the Resolute Desk. Trump loved it when a plan came together.

A Dream….Not Delayed

Election Night, 2020

President Nancy Pelosi sighed deeply. She felt she had finally fulfilled her Constitutional duty. She had just finished a brief congratulatory phone call with President-Elect Warren. The two women giggle like school girls as the magnitude of the event sank in.

But the cost had been incredible.

In the end, had not been politics that fell Trump, but Trump himself. Though his mental condition had shown signs of decline before his official impeachment, his problems accelerated after the House passed the measure. Trump, in short, snapped. His tweeting went from objectionable to transational. He began to rant about the size of his genitals. He repeatedly told MAGA to hunt down and murder The Squad.

Republicans had, at first, simply either ignored the situation or said Trump was “joking.” This grew more difficult when members of the Freedom Caucus staged a putsch of sorts by rioting on the House floor and picking off Democrats they did not like with hand guns they had smuggled into the Capitol. The death toll was too large for her to bear to remember.

Though Republicans had attempted to message this tragedy as a sign that the cost of impeachment was too great and it must be stopped immediately, this is not how the nation viewed it.After the National Memorial service for the fallen House Democrats, the pace of impeachment accelerated rapidly.

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Trump was convicted by the Senate. He then held up in the Oval Office for close to three weeks. He was finally physically dragged from the White House under cover of night. Trump’s mental condition had deteratied by that point that he was hospitalized to an effort to stabilize him. Pence was president briefly until the outrage over the attempted Republican putsch in the House grew to powerful even for him.

But that was almost a year ago. President Pelosi had done her best to heal the nation. Her caretaker administration was a who’s who of people who had found themselves in opposition to House Trump. American politics was in total chaos for much of the presidential cycle with both sides struggling with how to deal with the sudden return of liberal democratic norms.

She sighed again.

The Union was again strong. The Republic safe, for now.

The Coming Of The Republican Gotterdammerung Impeachment Strategy

Oh boy.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I continue to struggle as to what the endgame for this catastrophic clusterfuck is going to be. All things being equal, it would appear that Trump will be impeached and acquitted in the Senate. He will grow even more brazen in his tyranny afterwards with election meddling and Republicans will finally get the Russian-style managed democracy they so desperately crave.

And yet.

Something surreal is going on with Republicans. I can only suspect it has something to do with Trump freaking out at the prospect of getting impeached at all. This is yet another indication that Trump is not, in fact, the political genius that New York Times Trump Whisperer Maggie Haberman would have haysee rubes in flyover states like me believe. That he would grow so completely rabid at the idea of even being impeached does not bode well for anyone involved.

So I might suggest that you pause to consider that what may bring down House Trump — and Pence for that matter — may not be impeachment but Trump’s reaction to it. Or, more specifically, it won’t even be Trump’s reaction to it, it will be the violence associated with it. To put it another way, we are racing at an alarming rate towards people dying in a Republican Gotterdammerung strategy. Their thinking is that if they can inflict enough pain on the opposition in guise of people dying that that will cause the whole impeachment process to come to an end. They will make the case that we can’t even impeach Trump because people are dying. This is, of course, a completely fucked up, bonkers line of reasoning that comes more from House Trump believing its own FOX News coverage than anything else.

I find it dubious that if there was some sort of co-ordinated, violent and bloody attack on the part of MAGA truebelivers that average Americans would throw up their hands and give up on impeachment. What’s more likely to happen is the 60% of the population that isn’t MAGA would flip the fuck out. The political ground under the entire House Trump would buckle.

It would not happen right away. Republicans would for about 24 hours tell us all that they can’t be blamed for the actions of “mentally ill” people. The moment, however, that they started to say, “Of course we can’t impeach Trump if people are dying” is the moment they may, for once, face serious political consquences.

Remember there may come a point where the absolute fear of Republican Senators of being primaried from someone on the MAGA Right will equal their absolute fear that they won’t win a general election. It’s that type of high stakes conundrum that leaves me scratching my head. They have no shame and only care about power for power’s sake. So there’s a least a small chance that their high stakes gotterdammerung strategy might not QUITE work out the way they hope.

Who knows. I know I don’t.

The key point is the nation can’t sustain this state of crisis for any long duration of time. The fever is going to break one way or another. Either with people getting hurt or Trump finally be forced out of off, or maybe both. All I know is I hope no one gets hurt. But I’m not going to let insane Republicans cower me into submission either.

Systemic Rot At The New York Times In The Age Of Trump

Donald Trump, Political…Genius?
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m a nobody. I’m a failure. A loser. A rube who lives in a flyover state. But I would like to note the obvious — something’s amiss in the House That Ochs Built. The reason why it’s so dangerous to our apparently dying democracy is it’s systemic.

It’s not any one person — even though Maggie Haberman is a notable Trump suck up — but the very institution itself. It’s even more difficult to assess because The New York Times continues to be the premiere news organization in the world. It’s just that consistently since the dawn of Trumplandia the paper has gotten its overall coverage of our mad king wrong.

The reason why this is so dangerous is The Old Gray Lady pretty much sets the daily news agenda for most of the media ecosystem. So when they wilfully engage in the tried-and-true 2016 playbook of acting as though Trump and his minions are acting in good faith — when they clearly are not — that’s a serious, serious problem for the Republic.

If I’m so smart, what would I do differently? Well, I would have a townhall meeting of the entire newsroom and tell them to think of themselves as patriots first and reporters second. If that means burning some bridges so be it. If that means being extra-skeptical of whatever fucked up messaging House Trump is pushing then so be it. One notable example of this recently was when The Times cooed about how much money The Thousand Year Trump was spending on digital buys. That whole thing is political FUD meant to cower House Trump political opponents into thinking all is fucking lost.

Another issue is people like Maggie Haberman idly muse about how it is that Trump does demonstrably stupid things as if there was some other answer than, well, Trump is, in fact, stupid. At this point the only reason why I mention Ms. Haberman is she’s a fun to pick on. Anyone who sucks at the teet of House Trump that much and takes her self so fucking seriously deserves whatever snarky fate she may meet. You know who Maggie Haberman reminds me of? The guy who gave David Letterman the “GE Handshake” when he went to his new bosses with a gift basket.

I don’t know. It’s times like these when I wish Gawker was still around. It would be nice if Nick Denton had his old crew rant against what I’m talking about on a daily basis. It’s all very silly and yet extremely important given the stakes involved.

I love The Times. I just wish they would do better.

V-Log: An Update On #Writing a #Novel & Maggie Haberman’s Weird Twitter Flex On Me


Well, THAT Was A Fucked Up Online Outreach By The New York Times

Wow. Not cool.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have simple needs. I get to write my novel in peace. I get write mean tweets to Maggie Haberman about being The Trump Whisperer. Well, tonight I got tag teamed by two New York Times reporters — Haberman included! — about me being angry about a tweet on her part.

I don’t what’s going on with those guys. My only experience is just a small town community newspaper reporter but boy did Haberman come off as strangely passive aggressive and punching down. The few times I’ve talked to New York Times reporters they were gracious and personable. This time, however, they totally flexed on me in a counter-productive manner.

But, you know, the more I think about it, the stupider it becomes. It’s actually rather humorous. The thing about people like Haberman is they kind of want it both ways — they want to get upset with the use of “access journalism” but then they turn around and do exactly that.

Anyway, no harm no foul. But I’m not going to forget this. Putting people like on blast to prove a point that may — or may not — be what’s actually going on is a dangerous social media thing to do.

Whatever. I don’t care. I have a novel to work on.

Fever Dream: What If The New York Times *Was* For Sale?

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

The New York Times is not for sale. But given how topsy-turvey the world these days, let’s imagine it was for sale. There are some key issues that are difficult to imagine.

How much is it worth?
For perspective, The New York Times Company bought The Boston Globe for $1 billion about 20-so years ago. It was later sold for far less than that. But the NYT is probably the biggest, most powerful newspaper in the world in cultural terms. So, the starting bid for the paper would likely be at least $1 billion. And that’s on the conservative side. If it was for sale there would be so extremely powerful and wealthy people ready to pounce on it. The bidding war would likely increase the sale price to something closer to $5 billion.

Who would buy it?
News Corp probably is the one company willing to shell out the most money for it. But the instant Murdoch’s grubby conservative hands were on it, all the liberal marque names of the paper would bolt. They would likely start up a rival website that would essentially The New York Times in reconstituted form. That, in a sense, would make make Murdoch owning it kind of a moot point. All he would have is the brand name at that point and, while powerful, it’s not like he was going to convert the audience of the paper into psycho Right wingers.

So, let’s say News Corp doesn’t buy it. Then who? There are so many wealthy people who would see owning The Gray Lady as the vanity purchase of a lifetime that it’s difficult to think of all of them. My guess is either Alphabet Corp (Google) would buy it or Facebook’s Zuckerberg would buy it personally like Jeff Bezos did The Washington Post. Then there’s Laurene Powell (Steve Jobs’ window.) She has the cash and the interest (see her investment in The Atlantic.) The list goes on.

What Would They Do With It?
The traditional print newspaper business is dying off. It’s just a matter of time. If Alphabet Corp bought the NYT, they would probably integrate it directly into their search. That would, in a sense, be the best case scenario.

Anyway. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon — or ever.

The Low Key, Systemic Crisis At The New York Times

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

It’s interesting how great The New York Times is on a tactical level and how bad it is on a strategic level. Be it the lead up to the Iraq War or normalizing Trump’s authoritarian inclinations, The Gray Lady collectively seems to need to go to therapy.

Now, I’m of the opinion this stems from the paper trying to play it completely down the middle in a time when to do so is a grave disservice to its audience. The paper as a whole wants to be completely objective. Unfortunately, we, as a nation, are in a chronic existential crisis. And, yet, I honestly don’t see any ready solution to the problem.

It’s not like The Paper Of Record can adopt advocacy journalism. So, I think we’re stuck with this particular problem long term.

Having said all that, I think it’s interesting to imagine a day when Rupert Murdoch finally got his life-long wish to own The New York Times. The crazy thing about such a thing is it’s not like people would go along with him turning it into a clone of FOX News. What would happen is all the brand-name liberal reporters would bounce. It would be the journalistic equivalent of the fall of Constantinople. A lot of other medium-sized newspapers would be flooded with some pretty spectator talent.

Or, they would band together to start a new newspaper that was The New York Times in all but name. It’s amusing how conservatives think if only they own The New York Times, they would make it’s generally liberal audience tag along.

The Odd Frequency Of My Encounters With The NYT & Writing A Novel

by Shelton Bumgarner

The preview for this is not indicative of the actual video quality.