The Fate Of The United States May Rest With State Republican Parties

by Shelt Garner

On the surface, it seems as though Trump’s support is not nearly as passionate as it once was. While there continues to be a lot of sound and fury surrounding Trump, lately, that noise seems to signify nothing. It could be that many of the people who could otherwise cause trouble in the real world for Trump are in prison because of their involvement in the January 6th Insurrection.

Having said that, I continue to worry on a structural basis about the radicalization of state Republican Parties. It will be the extent of that radicalization that will determines what happens in late 2024, early 2025, regardless of the outcome of the election.

If Trump loses, he could very well flip the fuck out and start to demand a National Divorce on the self-serving grounds that he doesn’t want to go prison. If that happens, then we all have to wait and see if states like Texas begin the process of leaving the Union.

Meanwhile, the core of Trump’s support should he win will come from the radicalized infrastructure of the Republican Party. Trump will rule the country as a tyrannical Red King and he will probably leverage the institutional support of the Republican Party to consolidate power. And if Trump is somehow magically deposed because he does go full tyrant on us, it will be Republican state parties who will cause the civil war…when they leave the Union in a huff.

At the moment, I just don’t know what is going to happen. It really could go either way. There is a chance that should Trump lose that I’m really overthinking things and Trump will just rant a lot and then drift away…until he comes roaring back and tries to run again in 2028.

Speeding Up The Novel Development Process

by Shelt Garner

Now that I am zooming towards wrapping up the third draft of my first novel, I find myself wondering how I can speed up production of the next novel. I can’t spend years and years working on the next novel because I’m old and have a limited amount of time on the earth.


As such, I think one way to speed up the development of my next novel will be to better game out what the novel’s story is. Now, at the moment, I actually have two novels I want to work on. One is the a direct sequel to my first novel while the other is a totally unrelated scifi concept.

The scifi concept is pandemic related and to me, at least, is seems like a very obvious idea for a novel. So obvious that I keep expecting to find out that someone else has already written a novel or screenplay with a similar conceit. But it hasn’t happened yet, so I’m going to go full speed ahead.

Not knowing what exactly the story I wanted to tell was one of the reasons why it took me so fucking long to get to this point with my first novel. Once I understood what the story was, everything clicked and began to move much quicker.

Of course, another problem was I have been drifting towards a general goal without realizing how much time was elapsing. My age kind of snuck up on me. But now that I’m in my 50s, I have every reason to buckle down and focus a lot harder trying to knock out novels as quickly as possible.

And none of this, of course, addresses the next stage of the process with my first novel — querying. As had already been proven, there is a good chance that anyone doing due diligence on me as part of the querying process is going to think I’m nuts and won’t want to have anything to do with me.

But while there’s life, there’s hope. I write because I have to, not because I want to. And the point of writing a novel in the first place — that of giving me a Big Project to think about rather than feeling sorry for myself.

How I Would Have Done ‘Civil War’

by Shelt Garner

While I really enjoyed the movie Civil War, I do think it pulled its punches as to how bad a modern American civil war would be. I understand why this was done, but it leaves me thinking how I would approach the story.

What I would have done is make the scenario A LOT darker. I would have kept it a dystopian road movie, but made it a lot like The Road. I would have made the point of the story a group of people heading to, say, the headquarters of a rebel group and have them go there on foot, rather have have the luxury of being able to drive there.

I would lean into the fact that the lights are off and there would be little or no communication around the country. This would be a lot more realistic and make the nature of the story a lot more grounded in reality and personal. I would also lean into not only the prospect of WMD being used by one side or the other, but also how outside nations might get involved.

The specific story I have rolling around in my head would be someone in a rural area of my state, Virginia, going on a trek to visit someone in Richmond. Along the way they, they pick up an elderly relative from a nursing home and maybe get a few other people with them as they head to their destination.

During the journey, we see various ways that the country has splinted as part of the decent into civil war. While the actual movie Civil War does address that in some respects, the story is not nearly as dark as it could be.

Anyway. If it was 25 years younger, I would probably start writing a novel like that. As it is, lulz, I have to focus on finishing the novel I’ve been working on for several years now.

Why Has It Taken Me So Fucking Long To Get To This Point With The Novel?

by Shelt Garner

I am now lurching towards wrapping up my first novel after years of working on it. I am taken aback by how long it has taken me to get to this point. Reviewing in my mind the journey that got to me to this point I have come up with some observations.


One is, I simply had no idea what story I wanted to tell. I spent some time thinking I wanted to write a scifi novel, but that turned out to be just to huge and I shelved it. Then I pivoted to the idea that I wanted to write a mystery-thriller that would allow me to make some political and social commentary about the Trump Era.

But I spent a lot of time just spinning my wheels on that one and I was still spinning my wheels when I realized in early 2021 that because Trump was no longer POTUS that my original intent for the story was no longer as timely. It occurred to me that I had this massive backstory about the novel I was working on at the time and it would be interesting to tell the very beginning of a 25 year tale that would end with the novel I had originally wanted to write about the Trump Era.

Once I got to that point, things began to move a lot quicker, even as the project went from one novel to two, and ultimately six.

I hope to write a novel that is as accessible and popular as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

And then something curious happened. I had planned to begin the third draft of the novel in September, only to spend months just spinning my wheels in the first act. I just could not figure out what I wanted to do with the first act of the novel.

There came a point when I realized that there was a way where I could write a novel that made sense and yet was totally different than what I had originally planned. It would require me to expand what was the first act of the novel into two third of a new novel and using a chunk of what had been the end of the first act and the beginning of the second act of the second draft.

This is the point where things changed dramatically for the story. It occurred to me that it would be very provocative if I leaned into something only alluded to in the second draft of the novel — the idea that the heroine owns a strip club. As such, I decided to have the heroine not only own a strip club but, for the duration of the novel, on occasion strip, too.

Now, clearly, if I had a wife or a girlfriend who was a Reader who could tell me “no” I probably wouldn’t have decided on such a strategic change to the plot of the novel.

But I don’t have that. So, lulz, I’ve come up with a really compelling story that MAY have too much sex in it to ever get published. But I don’t know yet. I’m too obsessed with finishing a novel of some sort that I am going to wait until I finish the third draft of this novel before I make any assessment like that.

And I continue to want to work on a backup scifi novel just in case my fears about the main novel being too “spicy” turn out to be correct. Then there is the issue of me being too bonkers for any literary agent who does due diligence on me so, well, there you go.


by Shelt Garner

There are a number of instances that have occurred during The Age Of Trump that makes one think about the dynamic between Trump the Man and Trump the Idea. It really makes one wonder about the rise of Trump and what that rise means in the context of American political history.

Take, for instance, what happened with Bob Mueller’s investigation. The case could be made that a lot of the pressure to hold Trump accountable was dissipated because all of our hopes and dreams about getting rid of Trump were wrapped up in the idea that Mueller would somehow produce a report that would force Trump out of office.

It’s possible that had Trump not produced the conditions that caused Mueller to be the Special Counsel that his first few years would have been a lot more turbulent. And, what’s more, I think all of us were very oblivious to how potent Trump the Idea was to millions of white Christians who felt disenfranchised for various reasons.

Now Trump is the subject of four different criminal cases. I have a far more conservative relative — whom I love dearly — who has gone totally MAGA now that their choice of Ron DeSantis is no longer a option. Talking to this relative gives me a general sense of what’s bouncing around the far Right podcast echo chamber and it’s clear that the idea that the evil (yet also incompetent?) Biden Administration is using “lawfare” against Trump.

When pressed, my relative says that there is only one case that they think Trump may be guilty off — the secret documents case — and yet because of the extensive permission structure provided them by all those MAGA podcasts they listen to, even that one they think is “lawfare.”

When asked if Trump murdering someone might be enough to dislodge their support for him, I did not get a definitive yes – or -no answer. Yikes!

There are two major take aways from this situation.

One, white Christian (men) are enraged by the “bad vibes” they feel in the United States at the moment. They don’t really know what is making them so upset, but they know there is absolutely nothing that would cause them to put aside their rage at the center-Left to the point that they might believe that saving American democracy is more important that crushing the “woke cancel culture mob.”

And, what’s more, my conservative relative completely dismisses the idea that Trump might go full tyrant if he’s given a second term in office. They point to how Trump was “all talk” during his first administration and believe the same will be the case in a second term.

Oh boy.

All signs point to that NOT being the case. Which makes me wonder what my conservative relative’s reaction will be when Trump gets into office and starts to do all the tyrannical things he clearly wants to do. Given that I could very well find myself in a Trump-branded concentration camp because I refuse to shut up about Trump being a fucking cocksucker, well, lulz.

The other thing to note is all of this bitching and moaning about “lawfare” will be a precursor to Trump going after anyone who opposes him with the Justice Department once he is in power again. And, really, the only reason why I think Trump might not be successful in this consolidation of power is, well, Trump. He is such a ding-dong — and a lazy one at that — that he could very well go full tyrant in such a way that principled Traditionalists — such as my relative — may sit up and take notice.

I continue to believe we are careening towards a very dark and turbulent future staring in late 2024, early 2025.

The America MAGA Wants

by Shelt Garner

We have already as a nation collectively accepted that someone can lose the popular vote by millions and still win because they win a few states that are crucial to the Electoral College count. What MAGA wants is to take things to a step further.

MAGA craves an America where we just give up. What I mean by this is MAGA, once they have power again, will fuck with the administration of elections to the point that it’s clear that we’re a Russian-style “managed democracy” and MAGA will run the country for the foreseeable future.

Trump has already told us that he wants paper ballots and no mail-in voting. What’s more, it seems as though should Trump become POTUS again that he will actively use the Justice Department to go after any one he sees as a potential political threat. He will simply say, “the Democrats did it to me, now I’m returning the favor.”

And those possibilities are just the beginning. Under the right circumstances, it definitely seems as though as part of the MAGA consolidation of power, we might face a Constitutional Convention at some point in the not-so-distance future.

Now, there are some problems with this hysterical doom shit on my part.

One is, well, Trump.

Trump is so fucking lazy and stupid that if he becomes president again he will probably thrash around in such a tyrannical fashion that even Traditionalists, who would otherwise be the “Good Germans” of American autocratic life, might sit up and take notice.

It’s one thing to use the Justice Department to go after your political opponents, especially with its gospel on MAGA podcast that “lawfare” has been used against Trump, and it’s quite another to snatch people off the street and throw them into a Trump-branded concentration camp.

Another issue is the United States is a huge, diverse nation and it would take a deft political hand in the best of historical circumstances for someone to successfully transition the United States into what it seems we’re drifting towards at the moment — an autocracy.

So, it seems reasonable to assume that because Trump is so dumb and lazy that he won’t even try for a Constitutional Convention to make it legal for him to run for a third term. He’ll just do it. And he could very well do any number of brazenly illegal things that will be challenged at SCOTUS. Because Trump is so outrageous and brazen in his tyranny, he will lose at SCOTUS. But it won’t matter because Trump will just ignore the decision.

As such, Trump could very well force the country to the breaking point. We will all collectively have to decide if we’re a nation of laws or if we have so given up that Trump can just be a tyrant and it’s all a big lulz. I think THAT is Trump’s ultimate historical purpose — to either destroy America as a Republic based on laws, or to cause us to fight it out in a revolution / civil war until one side or the other gets to run things.

I don’t want a revolution / civil war. That would really suck, as the movie “Civil War” proves. But, on an abstract basis, it definitely seems as though late 2024, early 2025 MAY be *IT*. We, as a nation, will be forced confront a fork in the political woods and I honestly have no idea which path we will pick.

A Lot Of People Are Missing The Point Of The Movie ‘Civil War’

by Shelt Garner

Now that the A24 movie “Civil War” has gotten wide release, a lot of people online have felt compelled to give their hot takes on the most notable absence in the movie — any sense of who the “good guys” in the story depicted are.

The more I think about it, the more the absence of any thorough world building on the part of the producers of the movie is the only way a movie called “Civil War” might have any chance of being a success. What a lot of people interested in the subject of a potential second American civil war want in such a movie — a chance to see their partisan bloodlust on the big screen — they did not get.

The movie is not meant to be a roughly two hours of cathartic, violent hate for one side or the other. The movie is, at least in my view, is meant to be a warning to both sides as to how bad a modern civil war would suck.

And I say this, even as I note how the the civil war shown in the movie is probably a best case scenario. The lights are pretty much on for the entirety of the movie. And there was no talk of the use of WMD during the movie. And, what’s more, my dark fears about a fucking race war in the Deep South were also not included in the scenario.

So, I understand why people with a more critical eye may deem the movie “vacuous,” but that is a serious not seeing the forest for the trees evaluation. By simply presenting a scenario in as value-free way a possible, the producers of the movie ensure that it won’t be seen through a hyper partisan lens.

What The Fuck Are We Going To Do About AI-Generated Celebrity Porn?

by Shelt Garner

I continue to grow ever more alarmed by the increase in AI-generated celebrity photos. I know there was something of a kerfuffle recently over some silly bad Taylor Swift “porn” that appeared on Twitter, but that’s nowhere near what we should be worried about going forward.

At the moment, AI-generated celebrity images are rather banal and easy to spot. What I see on my social media feed a lot these days is such imagines which usually only vaguely look like whatever celebrity they’re supposed to represent. An example of a picture that is supposed to be Margot Robbie is shown below.

An AI-generated photo of Margot Robbie.

The photo above at least attempts to replicate what Robbie actually looks like. Usually one of the big mistakes of AI-generated celebrity photos is they are clearly done in a way to show what men WISH the woman in question looked like. They’re usually a bit more curvy and symmetrical than the real deal which makes it easy to spot as a fake.

My concern is what happens in a few years (months?) when we get passed the “uncanny valley” and photorealistic images of celebrities come common place. I know because of the silliness involving Tay-Tay that there has been a move to pass some legislation, but the wheels of government move very, very slow compared to AI developments.

Add to this how many “unaligned” people want the right do do whatever the fuck they want with AI and it definitely seems as though we’re careening towards a very, very dark and rather surreal future. We really need to start to work on developing watermark technology that will allow the audience to distinguish between AI-Generated photos and the real thing.

While we’re on the subject of such things, another development I’ve noticed on the AI image front is women using AI filters on their faces while leaving the rest of their body unaltered. See below:

I find this rather surreal. But this is definitely a development to keep an eye on. It seems very possible that there may come a time when AI-filters are so good that the causal viewer won’t be able to discern that a phot has been altered. This could lead to some rather surreal developments on dating apps.

Mistakes We Knew We Were Making

by Shelt Garner

The predicament I find myself in with my first novel is a prime example of what happens when you don’t have anyone around you to tell you “no.” The story I’ve come up with is compelling and intriguing enough — if you give it a chance — that you’ll finish it wanting more.


But there are a few problems.

The most obvious one is, well, I’ve realized that it has a lot of “spicy” scenes in it because it deals with a woman who not only owns a strip club, but for the duration of the story, also, on occasion, is depicted stripping. If I had a wife or a girlfriend as a “Reader” there is a good chance she would put the kibosh on that particular element of the story.

It’s just too easy for the mythical “liberal white women” or the “woke cancel culture mob” to blanch at such a storyline, especially one written by a man. If I was an twentysomething undocumented trans woman then that would be a different story. (There you go, I’ve put all three of my running gags into one paragraph to trigger you when you do your due diligence on me.)

There are a few other problems with the nature of my first novel that are structural and existential so, lulz, I just have to accept them going forward. I really love this novel and the characters I’ve come up with and, I suppose, in the end, if nothing else, I’m the audience of the novel and as such am willing to expend the time and energy necessary to finish it.

I am WELL AWARE that if you don’t know me and you read this blog you will probably want nothing to do with me. Ok, I get it. So, in a sense, this blog is like online dating for me — absolutely no one will swipe right on me online, but if I was given the opportunity to use my “rizz” on you in real life, then maybe you might give me a date.

The last few days have been full of self-doubt about this novel. But I’ve concluded that the point of this novel is to prove a point to myself, if no one else. I know I’ve come up with a really good story, despite its obvious flaws, and I’m going to see this project to its completion.

Having said all that, I am still going to pivot — when I have some time — to a backup scifi novel that will be tailored specifically with marketability in mind. I need that type of insurance policy to give me the juice necessary to move forward with the main novel. I don’t like the idea of putting all my creative eggs in one basket.

The Final Countdown

by Shelt Garner

I know I’m about to wrap this novel up because I’ve decided to ignore a structural problem that could only be fixed by pretty much starting all over again — it’s taken me so long to finish this novel that I should problem move its events from the mid-90s to 1999 -2000.

If this was three or so years ago, I would have throw everything up in the air and totally re-imagine the novel. But it’s way too late in the process for me to do such a thing. So, onward I go.

And there is another reason why I don’t want to change the period this novel is set in — I like the idea that the last novel in the series happens in the days leading up to the pandemic striking the US. So, there you go. I’m happy with the state of the novel.

What’s more, there is the issue of the other novels in this series are just planned and rhetorical at this point. No need to waste another year reimagining the first novel when there are no assurances this first novel will ever be published.

I do have a scifi novel that I hope to start to work on in addition to this mystery-thriller, so I can use some of my frustrating on the existential problem with the main novel to use as energy to make sure the back up novel gets some work.