1861 & 1933 — Two Years, Two Futures For America

by Shelt Garner

It definitely feels a though we’re in the twilight of one era and the cusp of the beginning of another. But what type of new era? It seems to me two years symbolize what may be about to happen in the United States: 1861 and 1933.

1861 — “Renewal Through The Crucible Of War
It is obvious, in hindsight, that in the years leading up to 1861, that the country was tearing itself apart. The thing we have to remember, of course, is at the time no one knew exactly what was going on or the consequences. That’s the thing about living through history — you simply don’t know how it’s going to end. It’s given a narrative after-the-fact by historians so people can understand it. At the time, it seems like just a random sequence of events. As such, if our future can be gleaned from 1860 — it would seem as though the “bad guys” are likely going to win at first and then, after considerable struggle, leadership will arise and things will get sorted out in a new way. A lot of people will die tragic deaths, but in the end, America will bounce back. Though, I suspect the First Republic’s goose is cooked given the exact set of circumstances we find ourselves in.

1933 — “A Darkness At Noon”
On the other hand, there’s this. In this historical analogy the bad guys win and that’s it. We cross the Rubicon into an autocratic managed democracy (or worse) and that’s it. The end. And the only thing that might loosen House Trump’s grip on power will be the dead hand of demographics. Once the last of the Baby Boomers finally drop dead, then the internal dynamic in Trumplandia will slowly begin to shift and something new will pop out of the rubble of what was once the United States.

I honestly don’t know which one of these years is our future. Could even be a mixture of the two. But I do know the fault lines in American politics are about to shift in a rather dramatic fashion. We should all brace ourselves for historical earthquake.

The New Normal

by Shelt Garner

We have to accept that the United States is no longer a liberal democracy. We’re now identical to the autocratic managed democracy of Russia. Really, at this point, the only issue is how quickly the end of the free press comes. My guess is it will happen rather abruptly sometime in 2021.

It will all happen “legally,” in the sense that no laws will be broken, but there is going to be a shit-ton of abuse of power. A combination of threatening to take broadcaster’s licenses and an “German industrialists” will fix the problem of the so-called “fake news.” We’ll wake up and CNN will be identical to OANN. And the New York Times will be force-nationalized then spun off to Rupert Murdoch.

Once the free press is dead, then Trump will have a free reign to do whatever the fuck he wants. We simply won’t even know he did it.

By 2024 the United States and Russia will be literally identical on a political level. Throw in Trump at some point demanding a Constitutional Convention and the First Republic has fallen. We’re just in the gauzy twilight period between the fall of the First Republic and when Trumplandia is strong enough that we notice how much things suddenly suck.

Something truly extraordinary would have to happen for Trumplandia not to come into existence. And, just like with impeachment, no one and nothing is going to save us.

In passing, I will casually note that Trump a self-own artist who only continues to survive because the tribal nature of post-politics America. He has an entire edifice designed specifically to enable him. And, really, the very thing that Trump seems to long for so badly — some sort of unprecedented political violence –is the very thing that might actually hurt his dream of becoming the Dear Leader.

Once you start murdering people for political reasons — as is already beginning to happen — the traditional rules of politics stop functioning. It’s a least possible that some pretty surreal and unexpected things might happen for no other reason than Trump is so dumb that he doesn’t realize that politics is actually good for him.

Anyway, I think a lot of the angst about a civil war is going to turn out to be overwrought. Trump has half a dozen things he can use so he “wins” on election night. But, like I said, he IS a self-own artist, so it’s at least possible that if we have some sort of “civil war” happens solely because Trump is a fuck up.

All I can say is either get out of the country now or be prepared to take a side. You’re going to have to risk the things that are important to you in the real world if stay in the United States. Get out while you still can.

High Concept: ‘Chernobyl’ Meets ‘Arrival’

by Shelt Garner

I have had this idea for a movie or novel rolling around in my mind for a least a decade. It probably would be done best as a high concept film because to do it as a novel would simply way, way, way too long because of all research required.

The idea is this: what if aliens arrived and gave us a pretty astonishing opportunity, but with a catch: humanity would have to work together.

Now, it’s a well-worn trope that the world, given such an opportunity would unite. But, lulz, that’s bullshit. (I think the movie “Arrival” actually uses this concept some.)

Anyway, I love the HBO series “Chernobyl” and it seems like that time of life-or-death tone would be perfect for such a movie. I like the idea that the audience would know the aliens are asking all of humanity an existential question and the drama comes with how badly we fail at this particular test every step of the way. (Though, hopefully, in the end we would get or shit together.)

This movie would be very deep and fill the audience with dread, just like Chernobyl. I would write the screenplay myself, but not only am I working on a novel, I have a different concept for my first screenplay, should I ever get around to writing one.

America’s Political System Has Collapsed

by Shelt Garner

In the strange Upside Down that is the MAGA-Qanon echochamber, Dear Leader Trump is the only thing stopping rabid Communist cannibals from turning America into a woke “cancel culture” nightmare. They totally and willfully ignore what an enormous systemic clusterfuck Trump’s rule has been and focus on that one thing — the protests occurring across the country.

That their logic is essentially, only Trump can save us from the mess Trump has directly contributed to is besides the point. Their politics is barely more than a tribalistic grunt.

It seems clear that MAGa-Qanon is chomping at the bit for the opportunity to engage in some sort of political violence, which may go so far as an actual civil war. The logic is there, that’s for sure. And Trump’s bonkers behavior on Twitter only feeds into this.

On the face of it, all the metrics indicate that if things did finally turn to wide-spread violence, that MAGA-Qanon would “win,” at least the first round. And, really, given how they will have House Trump on their side, there is every reason to believe that their first punch will be a decisive and knockout one.

And yet.

While I don’t really have much hope at this point — it definitely seems as though the “bad guys” are going to win and the country is going to implode for no other reason than the U.S. Military will not do anything to stop it (or follow Trump’s orders to put any resistance to House Trump down), I will note that history does NOT go in a straight line, especially once everyone gives up on politics and starts killing each other. (Which I most definitely DO NOT WANT.)

The case can be made — and I will make it just to make myself feel better if anything else — that to date House Trump has been so successful because they’ve been able to get everything they wanted because of the unexpected weakness of all of the norms and laws we all assumed would protect us from…someone like Trump.

Just a brief glance at history, however, will show that once the average person — who “who doesn’t have time for politics” is absolutely confronted with not politics but existential violence, all bets are off. MAGA-Qanon is extremely bloodthirsty, organize and passionate, I will give them that. But once an actual shooting civil war starts the built-in power they have because, lulz, the vast majority of people are completely indifferent to politics will be gone.

So, yes, all the metrics point to House Trump consolidating power after a brief and potentially bloody “civil war.” But. Or, put another way, it’s probably in House Trump’s best interest to do everything in its power to prevent things leaving the realm of politics and entering the Thunderdome of civil war. I feel their absolute drive for violence is potentially a major strategic miscalculation on their part.

I’m not saying everything is going to work out for the “Good Guys” if an actual shooting war starts, but, in general, violence of any sort — especially political violence — is, as Issac Asimov said, “the last resort of the incompetent.” Wars of any sort have a completely different set of metrics than politics and once they start they always, ALWAYS, take on a life of their own.

Once the threat to the population is no longer an abstract, there’s a least a small chance that things may not break MAGA-Qanon’s way in the long run.

But, really, who am I kidding.

We’re all doomed. Trumplandia is here.

Good luck.

Mulling The State Of Star Wars

by Shelt Garner

As I have said before, I’m not really much of a fan of Star Wars. But the franchise is such a cultural powerhouse, that it is interesting to try to understand where it stands.

To me, the existential crisis of Star Wars has nothing to do with the franchise itself. It has everything to do with how the bolts are popping off civil society in the United States. Throw in the quirks of the modern Hollywood economy and you have a recipe for the entire edifice to collapse in on itself.

The reason why what’s “wrong” with Star Wars is so difficult to understand is there’s a lot going on with the franchise. The convention wisdom on YouTube, often advocated by angry young men, is Star Wars where it is because of the malfeasance of Kathleen Kennedy. She’s a very convenient scapegoat for some legitimate problems with Star Wars.

I’m of the opinion that things just aren’t that simple. Disney paid something like $2 billion for LucasFilm and, as such, they decided to use it as a money tree. It seems to me that what all the complains are about has more to do with modern Hollywood in general than Ms. Kennedy.

Three major things are warping Star Wars so as to cause a major rift between the studio and the fanbase.

  1. MAGA-Qanon is consuming America
    A lot of unhappiness in the Star Wars fanbase likely comes from how the United States, in general, is extremely divided. This is out of the control of anyone involved. Everything — EVERYTHING — is seen through the prism of politics, and, as such, given that the Star Wars fanbase is made up of young men, it’s inevitable that they will be unhappy if there’s a whiff of “liberal bias” in the storytelling.
  2. Disney wants to sell toys
    Next, Disney really, really, REALLY wants that sweet, sweet toy money. So that bends the storytelling associated with Star Wars to such an extent that they throw in an entire subplot that’s devoted exclusively to featuring creatures that are to be sold as toys.
  3. “Woke” Hollywood
    This is probably the most conspicuous problem with the franchise and, in a sense, the most intractable. Woke Hollywood screws with some basic tenants of storytelling to such an extent that even the average casual Star Wars audience member can be left a little annoyed.
  4. Disney isn’t a fan of Star Wars
    I think this is the real problem with Star Wars. They just don’t “get” Star Wars and where the magic comes from. It’s like a bookworm trying to be a basketball coach when they don’t even know the rules of the game. They know how to make money, but they have lost sight on how to tell a Star Wars story the way the fans will really like.

I honestly don’t have a solution to any of these problems. Disney does run a real risk, however, of driving the franchise into the ground to such an extent that they can’t make any more money off of it. I have suggested before than someone like Kevin Smith (who is a huge fan of Star Wars) should be given a three picture deal and a lot of creative control.

One thing that is really staring Disney in the face and they’re ignoring it is how huge the Star Wars universe is. It makes you start to think whomever is in charge of Star Wars (Ms. Kennedy?) is either not very creative or too timid to do what is needed.

Why not just find a minor fan favorite character and think completely out of the box with them. No Skywalker. No Darth Vader. Nothing from the known canon of the franchise. They’ve got a whole galaxy mapped out in various ways in “Lore” and so forth, why not just pick a direction, any direction and run with it? Why be so absolutely tied down to the major aspects of the canon?

But I guess all that would require money and risk that Disney isn’t prepare to get into. Though there may come a day when they grow so desperate that they don’t have any choice.

Jesus Christ Is Hollywood A Mess

by Shelt Garner

Hollywood is currently so out of fumes that it makes you wonder if we’re finally at the end of the post-9/11 Era, at least when it comes to the arts. Hollywood has squeezed ever penny it could possibly get out of the MCU and all of the major franchises are in various stages of clusteruckery.

It’s possible that the last big Avengers movie might be it. That might mark the end of about 20 years of Hollywood history. The question, of course, is what happens next.

As I’ve said before, I think the 2020 election is going to decide what happens. Given that something truly astonishing would have to happen for House Trump not to end the Republic by winning the election, I would lean on the side of Hollywood entering its late Weimar Republic stage. As House Trump strangles freedom after freedom in quick succession, it seems as though it is only a matter of time before it comes after Hollywood.

Hollywood is going to face an existentialist choice.

Does it allow itself to be enveloped by House Trump or does it bounce? Given the fast majority of major Hollywood producers are “Germany Industrialists” in their politics, I think we all know the answer to that question. But I guess it’s somewhat possible that some of Hollywood might decamp to somewhere like Australia…maybe Perth? because of the weather and land requirements it needs. Though, honestly, given how much is done on a soundstage with CGI, some of the coming Hollywood diaspora might endup in Great Britain.

But, on a broader level, it makes you wonder if we do manage to have some semblance of normal life in the next four years, what will it look like? I can’t think of a single major Hollywood franchise that has not either been played out or driven into the ground. Right now, both Star Wars AND Star Trek are dead in the water for various reasons.

As such, it would seem to make sense that given how art abhors a vacuum, that something completely new might pop out pretty soon. Or, if you really wanted to be depressing — given how everything sucks — you could say that the economics of Hollywood has changed so drastically that we just going to tread water until AR / VR (MX) finally matures enough that mainstream storytelling goes in that direction, with some sort of fusion with the video game industry occurring.

Given how dark things are right now, I don’t have much hope. And, yet, history has shown that someone, somewhere may very well do SOMETHING original that is both a creative and financial success for Hollywood. But it could be that “woke” Hollywood is the future of things and we’ll have to wait, like, 40 years until the founding of a Second Republic for everything to get sorted out.


Trump, Russia & Kanye

by Shelt Garner

We’ve passed the event horizon for Trump’s final consolidation of power. Soon enough, he will, on a political level, be a king. But it is interesting to note the details of this event as they zoom past us.

One of them is the “campaign” of Kanye West.

It seems as though, on the face of it, that House Trump wants to re-create the conditions of 2016. On one hand, there will be a third party candidate who will cut into Biden poll numbers and it’s likely that something along the lines of the Second Comey Letter will happen in late October as well.

But there is another, even darker possibility lurking in the shadows.

It seems to me that House Trump and the Russians are working hand-in-hand for the Russians to hack directly into our election systems. It would make a lot of sense for the Russians, under the cover of Kanye, to move just enough votes from Biden to Kanye so when he provides the margin of victory. This is pretty typical in some elections and so people won’t be as suspicious.

Given that there are a very specific — an well-known – set of events that happen after Election Night, it seems obvious that even if people began to grow suspicious about Russians hacking directly into our election systems, all Trump has to do is stonewall long enough for the electors to be certified and for them to vote.

Everything else is a lulz.

Trump can rapidly consolidate power on a number of different levels and by the time we all figure out what happened, AOC will be founding the Second Republic after having been in prison for 40 years. Darkness is here and, really, it’s just a matter of what shade of pitch black we have to suffer through.

All I can say is, do a gut check on what’s important to you in the real world. There’s going to come a time very, very soon when you either stand up for what you believe in and risk your life, your family or your career, or you don’t.

2021: American Implosion

by Shelt Garner

Since Trump is going to lie, cheat and steal to win the 2020 election — even to the point of inciting a civil war if need be, we need to start assessing what Trump’s second term is going to be like.

In a word: dark.

It seems to me that given macro trends, it’s not Hitler’s Germany we should be thinking about so much as Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Given the “America First” ideology of House Trump, it makes a lot more sense that the country would implode like Cambodia rather than try to take over the world.

As such, it seems as though something like this may happen — Trump does whatever he has to do to consolidate power, starting with a purge of the media. Then as MAGA and Qanon become indistinguishable, it seems as though what might start off as a general effort to eliminate all opposition to House Trump in the elites will quickly devolve into a general effort to answer the “liberal question” once and for all.

So, it’s not too much to imagine a situation where the U.S. Military is ordered to stand down while bloodthirsty Qanon people organize an emptying of the cities and we end up with American Killing Fields.

This is all so speculative on my part that it’s difficult to imagine of that might end. In the case of Pol Pot, he went so insane that he was felled with a combination of internal rebellion and an invasion. I can’t really see anyone invading the United States, so either the implosion is a complete success and a 10s of millions of people are butchered, or things just to extreme that some sort of counter-action is finally taken and the whole thing comes tumbling down.

Not before, of course, the United States is turned into a 1st world version of modern Cambodia.

The point of all of this is we’ve now entered one of those rare times in human history when the bad guys get their chance to do their thing and only, after way too long, do the good guys get their act together to do anything about it.

I will note that in post-WW2 Eastern Europe, the bad guys won for about 40 years. So there are absolutely no assurances that when the implosion most — if not all — of its goals are acomplished.

Trump: American Norodom Sihanouk

by Shelt Garner

There has been a lot of hysterical talk on the part of the center-Left that Trump is some sort of “American Hitler.” And I will be the first to admit that I have engaged in a lot of that talk myself. MAGA people chuckle at this and simply grunt something about “orange man bad” in reply.

Well, I used to think that maybe Trump himself wouldn’t be an American Hitler, but it would be one of his younger, more organized successors.

I’m beginning to doubt that assesement.

The reason is: Qanon.

It’s very easy to see a situation where Trump consolidates power after the Russians steal the election for him and ultimately the worst crimes don’t even happen because of him. It would be a situation similar to King Norodom Sihanouk in Cambodia.

Once OANN owns CNN and The New York Times has been nationalized and then given to Rupert Murdoch (and so forth) there simply won’t be anyone to notice that MAGA and Qanon have fused and they’re rounding people up to be murdered in American Killing Fields.

What’s more, the U.S. Military will be so concerned with not interfering in domestic politics that what starts off as a general attack on liberal elites turns into a mass emptying of the cities and American Killing Fields. This sounds surreal and bonkers, I know, but that’s an angle we haven’t really thought about before — Trump himself doesn’t order the American Killing Fields, but he doesn’t do anything to stop it, either.

Besides the whole mass murder thing, the other element of this that is gravely concerning is who is going to save us if this happens? It definitely seems as though once the country implodes that’s it.

I can’t think of how get out to the other side.

This is all a delusional fever nightmare at this point. But it’s definitely something to think about since apparently the fix is in when it comes to Russians hacking directly into our election systems.

Addressing Tim Pool’s ‘Asshole’ Versus ‘The Coward’ Argument

Shelt Garner


What bothers me about former Vice Magazine writer Tim Pool boiling down the debate between Trump and Biden to the political grunt of “Trump may be an asshole but Biden is a coward” is how effective it is for men who watch Joe Rogan and declare themselves “centrists.”

This argument is effective because it narrows down the strategic threat of Trump destroying the entire Republic to simply calling him “an asshole.” Meanwhile, it taps into the earnest masculinity of Joe Rogan viewers by calling Biden a “coward.”

I guess a similar 1933 situation would be something like a WWI veteran supporting Herr Hitler because he promises to re-militarize the Rhineland. It totally ignores the insane, corrupt racism of the rest of the Nazi agenda and focuses on something you agree with him on. So,in a sense, for Pool, he accepts that Trump is a outrageously corrupt racist misogynistic bigot because he’s a tough guy, a “strong man,” if you will. All the things Pool doesn’t like about Trump is baked into the cake and ignored and accepted because Pool believes Biden is a “coward.”

This allows him to ignore that Trump is actively doing everything in his power to destroy the very Republic itself. He simply focuses on one subject and one subject only — his belief that Biden is a “coward” for not addressing the riots in Wisconsin the way he thinks she should.

To me, at least, it all rather surreal.

We need to begin to accept that darkness is here. MAGA and Qanon are fused now and the ICE camps will become Trumplandia death camps soon enough. We’re simply not prepared for how brazenly Trump is going to steal the election, to the point where he encourages a civil war.

Sometimes, the bad guys win.

Barring something pretty spectacular that I can’t predict, America has passed the event horizon of tyranny. All the macro trends indicate that Trump is either going to eek out some sort of victory outright, or he’s going to burn the entire country down to win one way or another.

We are so fucked.