A house divided cannot stand

Both the USA and China are seeking to take advantage of unrest within the enemy’s borders, as a lengthy article by Strategy Page elucidates.

While 2018 was a bad year for the economy, 2019 is not much of an improvement. China hoped to maintain GDP growth of at least six percent while at the same time continuing to safely reduce (“deleverage) the huge number of bad loans local governments and corrupt banks have taken on over the last decade. The economic decline in 2018 could be measured in many aspects of economic activity (production, orders for raw materials, finished goods or construction and so on) and sentiments (of people running the economy and consumers). Chinese stock markets were down over 30 percent by the end of 2018 and for the first time in three years, profits of industrial firms took a dive. At the same time there were similar shocks to the American economy, but much more limited. Chinese and American leaders have not been able to agree on how to resolve trade and intellectual property disputes. China so far resists making any trade concessions. There is also supposed to be a halt in Chinese theft of American IP (Intellectual property) and commercial espionage in general. Until now the Chinese would often flagrantly cheat and then deny that they had done any such thing. This has been going on for decades and the recent American trade war is meant to deal with this long festering issue.

China is apparently hoping to be patient and take advantage of the current political turmoil in the United States. This has made most of the American media and many American politicians reluctant to criticize China mainly because American mass media is obsessed with overthrowing the current U.S. government. China sees an opportunity here and is taking it.

Damn him, deify him, or be disappointed in him, the observable fact of the matter is that God-Emperor Trump is about the only force standing in between the USA and its headlong plunge into economic contraction, violent civil conflict, and eventual collapse.

The schools are converged. The churches are converged. The corporations are soulless, corrupt vampires. The politicians are owned, leashed, and broken to heel. The military is converged.

Après Trump le déluge.


Speaking of Unauthorized

Barcelona Life Episode 7 is live. Farley and Elizabeth take Maisie to the water park… the CANINE water park!

And you absolutely, absolutely, must see this animated video of the Democratic Socialists of America. It’s possibly the most damning criticism of the conservative movement possible, when you recall that they somehow actually managed to lose a cultural war to these people.

Point of personal privilege! Please do NOT use gendered language to a-address everyone!



Imagine what we could do

I did the math. And if you want to win the culture war, here is one way to go about doing just that, given the inflated price of Hollywood content.

The estimates on the cost of content that emerged from these interviews peg the typical range of the production budget for high-end cable and streaming dramas at $5 million-$7 million an hour, while single-camera half hours on broadcast and cable run from $1.5 million to more than $3 million. With the exception of HBO, which made its mark with lavish productions, that’s a significant increase, during just the past five years, over what had been $3 million-$4 million for cable dramas and around $1 million-$1.5 million for single-camera half hours.

And Netflix often exceeds the new, higher averages. The first season of its supernatural sensation “Stranger Things” was shot to look like a 1980s Steven Spielberg movie and came with a price tag of $6 million an episode for season one, rising to $8 million in season two. Netflix’s sumptuous period drama “The Crown” cost an estimated $10 million an episode.

Bigger, bolder production values aren’t the only expense; talent also costs a pretty penny.

Netflix raised eyebrows with a $2 million-per-episode guarantee to lure David Letterman back to TV for a six-episode interview series that’s expected to bow next year.

Clockwise from left: “The Get Down” – $11m per episode; “Legion” – $4m per episode; “Timeless” – $4.5m per episode.

There’s a pervasive fear among traditional TV players that Netflix’s spending binge on content is an effort to vacuum up market share and put a lot of old-school competitors out of business. That, industry veterans say, is the only explanation for the streaming giant paying $20 million to Chris Rock and Ellen DeGeneres for comedy specials — fees that are more than double the high end for that programming on HBO just a few years ago.

But Netflix is far from alone in its aggressive spending. All the streaming services are ponying up bigger upfront commitments and budgets, raising floor prices for all networks. Amazon is laying out $8 million on action drama “Jack Ryan” and $5 million per half hour for “The Tick,” the superhero comedy with lots of visual-effects shots that also films largely on location in pricey New York. Robert De Niro is getting approximately $775,000 an episode to star in a David O. Russell crime drama for Amazon.

Cable networks are stretching their wallets too. HBO’s VFX-heavy “Westworld” is in the same lofty budgetary stratum as “The Crown.” Season one of Starz’s “American Gods” came in at more than $8 million per episode. TNT’s one-and-done period drama “Will” required $5 million-$6 million an episode, even though it was shot in Wales with mostly up-and-coming actors. FX usually spends about $3.5 million-$4 million per hour on its dramas. Ryan Murphy’s “American Crime Story” franchise is closer to $6 million.
For broadcast networks, the high end is roughly $4.5 million (with most shows coming in about $1 million below that).

That’s about $3.4 million more per episode than is actually necessary in most cases.

Now consider this. Owen regularly gets 50,000 views per livestream. I regularly get 12,000 views per livestream. Even if we assume that fully half my views are Bears, that gives us 56,000 viewers. Next, imagine that all of those 56,000 viewers were willing to subscribe to a Basic subscription on Unauthorized. That’s the price of two Caramel Frappuccino Ventis at Starbucks per month.

That would be over $500,000 per month we could spend on producing original content for everyone. We estimate that we could do a Little House on the Prairie-caliber television show, a comedy starring Owen as one half of an urban couple who moves to the country, for about $50k per episode. In other words, if we can get five thousand more Basic subscribers before the end of 2019, we will create a high-quality half-hour television show that does not hate you or seek to destroy your faith, your family, and your country. We will create something that will not only entertain, but inspire, you and your family.

We can do it. Seriously. In fact, we’re currently putting together a professionally filmed comedy special that will be considerably funnier than Chris Rock’s – or Ellen’s, although that was obvious – for approximately one-tenth of one percent of their budgets. So, think about it. And then join Unauthorized.


The difference between power and influence

Russia is the latest nation-state to remind the large multinationals that we are not living in a post-national cyberpunk world. National sovereignty, militaries, and nuclear weapons trump money and media power every time.

Russia’s state communications watchdog has asked Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on its YouTube video platform, it said on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Russians staged what observers called the country’s biggest political protest for eight years on Saturday, defying a crackdown to demand free elections to Moscow’s city legislature. Multiple YouTube channels broadcast the event live.

The watchdog, Roscomnadzor, said some entities had been buying advertising tools from YouTube, such as push notifications, in order to spread information about illegal mass protests, including those aimed at disrupting elections.

It said Russia would consider a failure by Google to respond to the request as “interference in its sovereign affairs” and “hostile influence (over) and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia”.

If the company does not take measures to prevent events from being promoted on its platforms, Russia reserves the right to respond accordingly, Roscomnadzor said, without giving details.

More and more states are learning that it’s not worth permitting these soulless artificial creatures to operate freely and as they see fit in violation of national laws.


They’re all yours, Richard

Matteo Salvini demonstrates why he is going to be the first Prime Minister of an independent and sovereign Italia.

Golden Globe winner Richard Gere visited a boat with 121 migrants on board in international waters near the Italian island of Lampedusa. Gere was pictured delivering food supplies to the migrants on board, who have been rescued by Spanish NGO Open Arms. In a barb to Italy and his own leader President Trump, he said: ‘Demonizing people has to stop everywhere on the planet. What most people refer to as migrants, I refer to as refugees that are running from a fire.’

The right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, whose party topped the polls in the recent European elections, hit back. Salvini said: ‘Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him: he can take back to Hollywood, on his private plane, all the people aboard and support them in his villas. Thank you Richard!’

Hilarious. And effective. Grazie, Richard!


He’s got a point

Then again, consistency has never been a strong point of the establishment media:

The BBC is facing accusations of “hypocrisy” for describing Kashmir as “Indian occupied,” with people asking why it doesn’t apply similar descriptions to Northern Ireland.
The query was first put to the British broadcaster on Sunday by British-Indian film director Shekhar Kapur and it quickly went viral.

“Hey @BBCWorld.. each time you call Kashmir ‘Indian Occupied Kashmir’ I keep wondering why you refuse to call Northern Ireland ‘British Occupied Ireland’?” Kapur asked in a tweet that rapidly racked up more than 20,000 retweets and over 50,000 likes. Other responses to Kapur’s message accused the state-owned media company of applying the “occupied” tag to other regions including Tibet, Hong Kong and Balochistan. It also prompted the creation of the #BritishOccupiedIreland hashtag, which also picked up retweet traffic. 

Either Northern Ireland is British-occupied or there is no reason to complain about the New Kashmiri immigrants, who despite being Hindu are every bit as genuinely Kashmiri as the Muslims who preceded them.


There’s no way

A former MCC convict says it is absolutely impossible for Epstein to have killed himself.

There’s no way that man could have killed himself. I’ve done too much time in those units. It’s an impossibility.

Between the floor and the ceiling is like eight or nine feet. There’s no way for you to connect to anything.

You have sheets, but they’re paper level, not strong enough. He was 200 pounds — it would never happen.

When you’re on suicide watch, they put you in this white smock, a straight jacket. They know a person cannot be injurious to themselves.

The clothing they give you is a jump-in uniform. Everything is a dark brown color.

Could he have done it from the bed? No sir. There’s a steel frame, but you can’t move it. There’s no light fixture. There’s no bars.

Remember, the one thing we know is that the Official Story – which in this case is that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself – is not true.


It’s not “disinformation” when it’s true

The New York Times attempts to disinform the informed:

That nativist rhetoric — that immigrants are invading the homeland — has gained ever-greater traction, and political acceptance, across the West amid dislocations wrought by vast waves of migration from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. In its most extreme form, it is echoed in the online manifesto of the man accused of gunning down 22 people last weekend in El Paso.

In the nationalists’ message-making, Sweden has become a prime cautionary tale, dripping with schadenfreude. What is even more striking is how many people in Sweden — progressive, egalitarian, welcoming Sweden — seem to be warming to the nationalists’ view: that immigration has brought crime, chaos and a fraying of the cherished social safety net, not to mention a withering away of national culture and tradition.

Fueled by an immigration backlash — Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country — right-wing populism has taken hold, reflected most prominently in the steady ascent of a political party with neo-Nazi roots, the Sweden Democrats. In elections last year, they captured nearly 18 percent of the vote.

To dig beneath the surface of what is happening in Sweden, though, is to uncover the workings of an international disinformation machine, devoted to the cultivation, provocation and amplication of far-right, anti-immigrant passions and political forces.

It’s remarkable to see how those who manipulate opinion with their words assume all opinions are derived by someone manipulating words. They don’t seem to be capable of grasping that people also form opinions on the basis of what they see happening right in front of them.

The rise of nationalism is a direct response to the mass migrations inspired by the neoliberal world order. It is the neoliberal wizards who have created the very monster they fear.