Nobody Should Care About the Impeachment Trial

Have you heard about the impeachment trial?  I sure have.  In fact, no matter where I look, it’s absolutely fucking everywhere.  Now it’s gone through the House and is headed into the Senate.  Oh boy!  I’m sure this is gonna be a big deal and not at all a complete time-waster that those involved probably knew it would be straight from the outset.

I mean, it’s not like Trump is the sitting President and the Senate is controlled by Republicans, right?  What’s that?  It is?  Oh dear.  Well then, if that is the case, then it would be a really stupid thing to actually expect that ANY of the Republicans who are in the Senate would actually vote to impeach the guy, right?  Not of any of them want to get elected again.  Which, as far as I understand, there are no big ones right now.

Here’s the thing – Trump’s base is ravenous and does not give one dusty fuck what the dude does.  He could walk into the street, pull out a gun, and blow the brains out of someone in cold blood, broad daylight and they would find a way to rationalize that it was the right thing to do.  These people are the quintessential sycophants one could ask for.  People who could not possibly care less what a leader does, because it’s their leader.  And because of this, every Republican in the Senate would have to answer to these people if they actually did something crazy like voting with their actual opinions instead of along party lines.

I’ve talked about a coworker who only cares about voting for whoever gets the Democratic nomination, regardless of who it is.  That’s all that matters to him.  Well, take the absolute opposite extreme, and that’s the modern Republican base.  It does not matter to them, at ALL, who the candidate is.  R next to their name, they’re alright.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with Trump.  This dude has said some horrifically sexist shit.  Don’t care.  Though if you saw the story about a bill before the Supreme Court to limit a woman’s access to contraception, you realize that his base doesn’t like women either.  Dude kills leaders in other countries in cold blood.  Not their problem.  In fact, if you don’t support Trump murdering foreign leaders, you hate America and support terrorism!  That’s the mindset these people come into this with.

Nobody who was paying attention was surprised that the impeachment stuff got through the House.  After all, this is pretty much a divide on party lines.  No Democrat who wants reelection can be against impeaching him, and no Republican who wants to win reelection can be for it.  But the Senate is controlled by Republicans.  There is zero, let me reiterate, ZERO chance that it will pass.  All of this trial stuff is the ultimate dog and pony show.  All to take attention away from a Democratic primary that is actually getting interesting with Bernie taking the lead spot nationally, according to the polls.

All over the place, I’m hearing people who actually think this matters.  Why?  Do they actually think that there is going to be some kind of weird miracle that will have a ton of Republicans turn on their base’s Supreme Leader?  I say again – he could murder a person in cold blood, talk about how much he liked doing it, and they won’t care!  Hell, he’s already done that!  The drone strike against Soleimani was an assassination.  Now he’s dropped all pretense of it being for American security and admits that he just killed the fuck.  Do the supporters of him care?  Nope!  You almost have to admire the childlike obedience these fuckers have.  It’s impressive.

Mainstream media can do nothing but talk about this.  And it makes sense.  What better thing to take the attention off the fact that a Democratic upstart is taking charge in a primary where they are looking to lose the first two elections of the season – Iowa and New Hampshire?  Just talk about this non-issue as much as you possibly can and speculate on whether this thing or that thing is gonna turn the tide on this trial.  Like there is any real chance that a Republican will stand against God-King Trump at any point ever.

As for me, I’m keeping my eye firmly where it matters – on the primary race.  It’s getting fun.  Bernie’s taking the top spot, and if the election results match this, then it’s gonna be a Presidential election for the ages.  Instead of a hollow candidate like Shillary, it’s going to be a principled man vs. a senile orange-faced moron.  This is the kind of thing that I have been waiting for.  Plus, failing some kind of huge economic collapse or massive war, the issue that’s going to be on the top of the list is healthcare.  Bernie has the top dog in that fight, easily.  Medicare for All as he’s proposed it is popular.  Trump’s healthcare plan was so bad that even he backed away from it.  The current Republican healthcare position is – get sick and die.

This is gonna be an interesting year, mark my words.  If the establishment does use every trick they have (again) and blocks Bernie from the nomination, then it will still be momentous.  The year when the Democratic base abandons them.  I’m not voting for a corporate candidate.  Period.  Neither is anyone who thinks like me.  And low voter turnout hurts one party and one party alone – Democrats.  So whatever happens next, it’s going to be a really interesting year.

Until next time, a quote,

“If you want to build a better home, first you must demolish the old one.” – Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones

Peace out,

Maverick

The Establishment Debate #CNNisTrash #NeverWarren

A couple days ago, there was the most recent Democratic primary debates.  The last debates before Iowa.  One last chance to see who the front runners were before voting and really getting to decide for yourself.  As with all the debates, there were a ton of people on that stage who didn’t belong.  Like Amy Klobuchar, whose chances of winning are in the nonexistent category.  Same with Steyer, who just bought his way onto that stage.  Surprised that Bloomberg didn’t do the same, though his chances of winning are the exact same.  Two rich pricks who think that they have any shot.  Kinda like John Delaney, who still hasn’t dropped out yet.  If you don’t know who that is, you’re not alone.

The debate was moderated by CNN, and that should have been a big red flag to anyone who pays attention to what an absolute partisan shill this network is.  But there were a couple things that happened before the debate which set the tone.  For starters, Biden’s poll numbers are tanking.  For another, in the Iowa polls, Bernie is now leading.  In fact, Biden was fourth in those polls.  The establishment go-to is falling fast, and now it has establishment Democrats starting to sweat bullets because there is a reality they have to face – Bernie might just clinch this.  Depending on what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire, he may sweep the field on the Democratic primary.

However, there was a more insidious thing that happened, speaking of Bernie Sanders.  A story was dropped by CNN where “four sources” close to the Warren campaign told them that in a closed-door meeting, Bernie had said that a woman couldn’t win in a race for President.  Yes, four mysterious sources got this insider info that spits in the face of EVERYTHING Bernie has stood for during his entire time in government.  Never has he said or done anything to lead anyone to believe that he believes a woman isn’t fit for the role.  Or that a woman couldn’t get there.  Hell, after losing the primary he tried to cheer for Shillary to get some of his dejected base to support that pit viper in a woman’s clothing.  Pay attention to the idea of a snake.  It will be back.

The reality is that since no corroborating evidence could be found of Bernie ever saying anything like this, most people rightfully extrapolated that the source on this bombshell is Warren herself.  Why would it be her?  Why would she stab someone who has championed her in the back?  Well, it’s because her poll numbers are tanking.  While Bernie is now poised to take the lead nationally, she’s slipping further and further.  Her campaign is just as aimless as Kopmala’s was.  Her version of Medicare for All was a joke, and one that even Bernie took to task with his much clearer and simpler version.  The woman doesn’t look good anymore.

But Biden isn’t look that good either.  Every speaking event with him is cringe-worthy.  The dude is almost as senile as Trump seems to be when he speaks.  Between the two of them, it’s hard to find a lot of coherent sentences.  So who does the establishment go with?  Their big guy is looking worse and worse, and his numbers are starting to tank?  So who’s it going to be?  Well, Warren has been cozying up to them in recent months.  Biden has even stated she would be his VP if he clinches it.  Seems she has decided to take the Shillary approach.

That sets the stage for this debate.  Everyone knew that CNN was basically going to go after Bernie with all the attack power they could muster.  And they certainly lived down to the expectations we had.  In fact, watching their assault on Bernie was as disgusting as it was insulting.  Never has it been clearer how utterly partisan this network is.  Conservatives like the rat shit in human skin, Ben Shapiro say that they are basically the Democratic News Network.  Well, in a way that’s true, but not as much as you’d think.  See, they do shill for the Democrats, but only the corporate ones.  If you are a challenger to the status quo the way Bernie is, they will attack you with all the vitriol they possibly can.  Come out as a usurper to the party and they will attack you as viciously as they possibly can.

My personal favorite bit was when they asked Bernie if he said that a woman could not become President directly.  He said no, obviously.  Then, they turn to Warren and ask, “Sen. Warren, how did you feel when Bernie said that a woman couldn’t be elected President?”  Are you fucking kidding me?!  So what, we’re just gonna pretend that Bernie denied it?  We’re just gonna call him a liar by virtue of ignoring his answer?  What the fuck is wrong with you?!  Where is your journalistic integrity?  Forget being unbiased, you might as well have just asked, “Sen. Warren, do you think Bernie Sanders is a sexist piece of shit?”  To which, given her recent conduct, she’d probably say yes.

This debate was insulting to watch.  Every other candidate on that stage was given the most softball questions one can imagine. The only ones who had hard questions was Bernie.  Made him look really fucking good to me.  Would have been better if he had turned that little episode of being ignored right on CNN and insulted them for their unveiled bias.  And as far as I’m concerned, this was a damning indictment of Warren and her entire campaign.  That woman is a snake in the grass if I’ve ever seen one.  She was looking for the right moment to strike at Bernie, when her campaign needed him to falter.  Instead of having better ideas than him, she used her vagina as a weapon and tried to #MeToo him.  Disgusting.  Absolutely disgusting.

So I’m done with Warren.  Fuck her.  Fuck CNN too for being unrepentant partisan hacks.  This debate was a joke.  A complete fucking joke.

Until next time, a quote,

“Dude, you have been a colossal dick all frickin’ day. Shut the hell up.” – Capt. Ed Mercer, The Orville

Peace out,

Maverick

The Warner Brothers Movie AI, To Murder Art

During breaks at my job, I tend to be on my phone, like a normal person.  Saw this thing on Twitter about how Warner Brothers has decided that instead of looking at scripts and stuff to see if a movie gonna be any good, they could outsource this issue to an AI.  It would do an analysis of what demographics a movie is going to appeal to and how much money it would be projected to make, thus maximizing profit potential and minimizing risk of a film not being profitable enough.  Will save movie executives a LOT of time in taking a look at the projects of young filmmakers or those with brave new ideas that could be the next big cultural landmark and weed out all ideas that aren’t able to generate the most money possible.

In other words, Warner Brothers is being pretty open about not caring about a movie’s artistic integrity or willingness to take risks.  Instead, they are gonna ONLY make movies that are made for absolute profitability.  A new IP headed by a filmmaker willing to take risks?  Can’t do that.  The AI has deemed it to not be cost-effective.  Instead, let’s make yet-another movie in an established franchise that will be guaranteed to make money off name recognition.

Though, to be fair, there may be signs that this is trending down.  After all, both the new Terminator and Predator films were massive box office fails.  Not to mention that when it was announced that there were going to be four sequels to that CG borefest Avatar, everyone’s reaction seemed to be – why?  The ONLY thing that movie had going for it was the fact that it is very pretty.  Got into an argument with a coworker over what a piece of shit that film is and that was their only counterargument – it’s pretty.  Makes sense that this argument came from a woman.  Pretty is a valid counterargument to plenty of women I know.  What were we talking about?

So maybe there is hope that Hollywood will be willing to take some kind of risks.  Or at least there was, until we got to see that creativity in films is being outsourced to AI.  Because of course it is.  Respecting filmmaking for art?  Fuck that!  There’s money to be made.  As much as possible?  A film that could appeal to a niche audience and not make as much money as its overly produced blockbuster contemporaries?  Nope!  Any investment in a film must have a guarantee of coming back with billions of dollars.

I’m kind of curious by what criteria this mythical AI is going to judge that a film can make money.  After all, if franchises with name recognition can fail, how can they be certain that this AI system is gonna work?  What is the metric that this soulless machine is gonna be able to establish that a movie has a high probability of being good?  How does a machine judge potential audience appeal?

This whole thing makes me think of a documentary that if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.  It’s called Jodorowsky’s Dune, and it tells the story of the greatest science fiction film never made.  A film that if it had gotten funding from the studio would have been a masterpiece.  If I ever get a chance to get my hands on a copy of that book Jodorowsky made for the production, I would pay all my money for it.  To see the last work that H.R. Giger did to design the Harkinnen family design, along with the incredible ship designs by one of the biggest cover designers of the time.  You really do owe it to yourself to see that documentary.  Hearing the lengths that Jodorowsky went to in order to get this film to work and the people involved makes you realize that if it had been done, it’s almost a guarantee that this film would have been alongside Blade Runner in having a place in science fiction history.

Now we have an AI that is making decisions on movies to make, with the only goal of maximizing profits for the company.  How long before other studios take this up?  Assuming they already haven’t.  Now that I know that it’s possible, I figure that Disney has been doing this shit for years.  Though to be fair, they make money like gangbusters because the drooling nostalgia idiots will eat whatever gruel Disney feeds them.  Those people are in large part to blame for the situation modern film finds itself in.

Where does this end?  That’s my question.  Where does the corporatization of filmmaking end and people actually making unique and thoughtful things begin?  It’s not like it doesn’t happen anymore.  You have films like Arrival, Annihilation, Overlord, and a whole bunch of others that I like to call – great movies that nobody ever saw.  At least nobody in the US, where everyone wants the next bombastic Marvel film or something to tickle that nostalgia button for the 1000th time.  I can’t wait for when we actually get a trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s take on Dune.  Everything I hear about the film is that it’s ambitious, unique, and that it’s in good hands.  Not surprising, since he made Arrival, Sicario, and Blade Runner 2049.  This guy has a real appreciation for the craft and sounds like he is pretty damn driven to make sure the cinematography and visual style of his movies is at the top of their class.

But I guess we can exclude Warner Brothers from the studios who are going to be making quality films that push boundaries in the near future, since they have their fancy new AI who can tell them what people want to see.  Disney has already said that they cancelled everything 20th Century Fox was doing now that they own it, and already working on a reboot of Alien and other nostalgic properties.  Unique movies with their own qualities?  What the fuck is that?

I love good movies.  Just got Blade Runner on blu-ray, and holy shit!  It looks amazing!  There are some incredible movies that have stood the test of time.  Nothing in Disney’s modern catalog will join the ranks of that.  NONE of their god-awful live-action remakes will.  Not one.  Every last one is going to be quickly dated because of their effects that the original films were able to avoid by being 2D animated, with the animation still holding up today.  Fuck modern Disney.  I seem to take every opportunity I can to shit on them, but for good reason.  They suck.

Film as an art medium is in danger of slipping away.  That fact fucking depresses me.

Until next time, a quote,

“Finally made obsolete, the concept of art passed away.” – The Parking Lot is Full

Peace out,

Maverick

Let World War III Commence!

For those who didn’t know, Iran launched a missile strike against two US military bases in Iraq.  Thus far, it looks like the casualties are limited to Iraqis with very little destruction of hard targets.  From where I’m sitting, that isn’t an accident.  The Iranians knew exactly what they were doing, and deliberately aimed their missiles to avoid doing hardcore damage.  After all, this was a message to the US, not a declaration.  Not that conservative America sees that.  The fires of war are upon us, but it isn’t like this is where it ends.  No, depending on what the orange-faced retard in office does, this could be the start of the beginning of the end for the human race.  Let’s talk about it.

The timeline for events goes like this.  First, there was a riot at the US embassy in Iraq.  And that’s what it was, a riot.  See, the Iraqis are getting tired of the unending US occupation of their country and the disastrous effects it has had.  The unending war with ISIS that now Trump is trying to negotiate with enemies we were supposed to destroy in order to fight an enemy was helped create.  So they rioted at the embassy and staged a sit-in protest.  The Iraqi Parliament voted to have America leave as well, but the orange-faced retard in office’s response was, “nope.”  And we wonder why they were mad at us.  Not hard to see, from where I’m sitting.  Conservative media frames it as some kind of horrible attack, but it was a riot.  Sure, there was destruction of property and stuff, but it was still just a riot.

Mainstream media was also quick to jump on Trump’s bandwagon that Iran was responsible for the whole thing.  Not hard to see why the orange-faced retard in office wanted to spin it that way.  Conservative America has been itching for a war with Iran ever since 9/11.  If you look at the arguments that neocons are spinning these days, you can see some commonalities between reactions then and now.

Next, there was the cold-blooded murder of Qassim Soleimani, and Iranian military leader who, neat fact, had been one of the leaders in the fight against ISIS.  You know, that enemy that America basically gave a free rise to power with multiple government-toppling wars that’s left a power vacuum in the Middle East.  It wasn’t some attack where we attacked back.  The stuff about Iran being responsible for the riot at the embassy had the sweet reek of WMD bullshit.  Ironic, given where the riot occurred.  The orange-faced retard in office’s administration tried all kinds of ways of spinning the cold-blooded murder to make America look good.  First, there was the bit about how Iran funded the people who rioted in Iraq.  Then, there was this bit about how Soleimani was planning an attack against America.  Or there was the line about how he was secretly orchestrating terrorism.  Lots of reasons, all of which were PURE BULLSHIT.

Everyone who called this ruthless assassination what it was were met by a chorus that should seem VERY familiar to people.  “Why are you defending terrorists?!”  “Why do you hate America?!”  “If you’re not with us, you’re with them!”  2001 is back!  And just like then, the rational, reasonable people are thrown by the wayside in favor of patriotic bullshit, all because of a riot at an embassy in a country that doesn’t even want us there anymore.  Since part of what the orange-faced retard in office campaigned on was leaving the Middle East, you’d think he’d have an easy out, but nope!  Because it’s resoundingly clear to anyone paying attention since 2001 that America wants to go to war with Iran.

In any event, after assassinating an Iranian leader, the world watched with baited breath, with one question on their minds – what would Iran do?  At this point, with one of their most beloved military leaders murdered, they had to do something.  Retaliation was inevitable.  Well, today we got the retaliation.  Over a dozen short-ranged ballistic missiles were launched at two US bases in Iraq.  The attacks were not especially effective, as it seems that few targets of value were hit.  From where I’m sitting, that wasn’t an accident.  I think Iran deliberately kept their attack limited to soft targets.  If they had wanted to do real damage, it’s pretty obvious they could have.

Which leads us to the title of the post – World War III.  It all comes down to America’s reaction.  See, if we decide that we’re going to go in and turn that country in the surface of the moon (like so many neocons would like), then there is another risk.  See, Iran is pretty tight with two of our biggest threats right now – Russia and China.  If we decide to declare war on Iran, that means that both of their nations are going to have to come to their aid.  They both have a vested financial interest.  Russia far more than China.  They have financial and treaty reasons to step up for Iran.  World War III ahoy!  All because the orange-faced retard in office had to waggle his pathetic dick to make himself feel better.

It blows my mind that this country can pick a fight with another nation, murder one of their leaders in cold blood, and when people rightly make a point that we started this, an entire political party is like, “nuh-uh!  You support terrorism!”  The hubris of people in this country is kind of inspiring.  Like, instead of apologizing for our actions, we decide that we already shit the bed once, so let’s do it again!  Except this time it will be bigger!  Let’s start another quagmire war in the Middle East, except with a nation that has nukes, and has allies with nukes that we will be put in direct conflict with.  Why not?  America, fuck yeah!

Part of me genuinely does hope to be part of the generation to turn the lights out on the sad, failed experiment that was humanity.  And since we have an orange-faced retard in office who exemplifies a quote that will close up this post nicely, I might actually get to see it.  There’s something inspiring about that.  So we’ll see if cooler heads can prevail, or if the orange-faced retard will live down to my expectations.

Until next time, a quote,

“We’ve had vicious kings, and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a vicious idiot for a king.” – Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones

Peace out,

Maverick

The Afghanistan Papers: 18 Years of Lies and Dead Bodies

Earlier last week, a story broke that should have been something shocking.  It should have shook the entire country, and yet the story came and went without so much as a mention by major news outlets at large.  A shocking series of documents that The Washington Post was able to get their hands on through a Freedom of Information Act request which outlined not only the horrible truth that America has accomplished nothing in Afghanistan, but also that for three presidential administrations, they have known what a gigantic cluster-fuck it is.  Over and over, we were told that progress was being made, but these people knowingly lied.  Bush lied.  Obama lied.  Now Trump is lying.

The naming of these papers is in connection with the Pentagon Papers, a series of documents that were released to the public by The New York Times back during the Vietnam War showing that the Johnson administration had lied to the American people about the nature of the conflict and what a horrific disaster it was.  Now we have a new series of documents, which were from a report that the Bush administration had commissioned to study the effect of the Afghanistan war, which continued on into the Obama administration.  Finally, after being fully compiled, it has been released and what it shows is heart-breaking.

From some of the interviews, it was clear that all levels of government were aware of the reality that the war in Afghanistan was going nowhere at all.  One of the most shocking things was that for a LONG period of time, the troops on the ground had no idea who the enemy was.  Was it Al Qaeda?  Was it the Taliban?  Was it Islamic State?  The battle lines were shifting around so much that for the people stuck there, they had no clue who they were supposed to be killing, or why.  It was understood by those in the documents that Washington’s goal of making Afghanistan into a democracy was doomed to failure and a complete waste of time.  We were knowingly working with corrupt officials and forces who had no understanding of how little we were doing in trying to build a police force there or make a dent in their opium business.  Everything we attempted to do was a complete waste of time and since those in the documents never thought their words would see the light of day, they were very candid about it.

The Washington Post’s article (linked above) has a link to the full report, and reading that was heart-breaking stuff.  Never has the Adagio for Strings been more appropriate then when you see what’s written there.  Almost $1 trillion spent on a clusterfuck that everyone involved understood was failing.  And that doesn’t even cover the money the CIA spent on corrupt officials to try and make their efforts of government-building work.  Not to mention how much has been spent by the VA for medical/psychological care for those who fought.  All while we were being told, over and over again that we are making progress.  Every last word of it was a lie.

People interviewed made very clear that it wasn’t misinformation they were giving us.  It was outright lies.  Three administrations have touted what has been done, and three administrations have knowingly lied.  After all, they all had access to this stuff.  Which means that they were knowingly giving us bad information.  So much for transparency, eh?  What makes that more odious is that they were keeping our young men and women over there!  Knowing that we were accomplishing nothing at all, having no clear enemy to fight, and making no real strides in effectively building a real government, we are STILL keeping our fighting men and women in that place.  It’s baffling.

Reading about how much money was knowingly wasted there.  Since the stated goal was to build a functioning democracy, the idea was that if we flooded the country with aid, it would help speed up the process.  This was akin to the scene in Apocalypse Now where Martin Sheen’s character gets to the base at the Do Lung Bridge, only to be told about the unending battle there.  They would build a bridge every day, only for it to be destroyed that night.  All so they could tell the General that the road was open.  Nowhere has that concept seemed more fitting than reading the absolutely disgrace that is the amount of money wasted on aid projects that went absolutely fucking nowhere.

The thing that really sticks with me through reading all of that stuff is the amount of lies.  Outright fucking lies.  The military had a script they had to stick to, constantly reassuring people how well we were doing.  The facts and figures that the Bush and Obama administrations pulled right out of their ass to paint a picture that would give the American people some belief that something, anything, was being accomplished.  When in reality nothing was.  We didn’t cut down on the opium trade.  Hell, we helped subsidize it more.  And when America decided to blow the ever-loving freedom out of it, we pushed more people toward the Taliban because opium was the only crop they could grow out there.  It was the only money to be made in that part of the world.

It’s been over 18 years.  Over 2,000 servicemen/women dead and countless civilian casualties.  Now the Trump administration is trying to make a deal with the very forces we fought in the first place to take over so we can get out.  I’m sure this will go just as well as his “efforts” to leave Syria or Iraq.  Neither of which really happened, though the former got a lot of press before it just was consumed into the machine of the news when none of our troops actually left.

Why was this not a bigger story?  That’s a good question.  The answer isn’t that complicated – because the media is so complicit in this.  The Washington Post fought a legal battle with SIGAR for three years before publishing what they got.  ANY of the other outlets could have done that.  But that’s not good for the modern news trend.  War is good press.  War gets clicks.  War gets eyes on screens.  Nobody in the mass media cared to fact-check ANY of what we were being told, because there was way too much money in it.

I think to the people I know, who have come home from fighting in the Middle East permanently scarred mentally, or mutilated physically.  Got a family member’s spouse who has some several mental issues from five tours of duty over there.  Then you read stuff like this, and see that our government knowingly lied to us, didn’t understand what they were doing, lost sight of who they were actually fighting, and now is trying to make a deal with those we were first killing just to leave a battle that was never, ever possible to win.  It’s a horrible joke.

You’d think there’d be more outrage.  You’d think that people would be yelling in the streets.  Trying to get Bush brought up on war crimes.  Trying to get Obama brought up on war crimes.  Trying to get Trump brought up on them.  But no.  The public is so blissfully unaware of anything to do with actual life in this world that if the war literally bit them in the ass, they’d find some way of ignoring it.  We are anesthetized for complacency.  That scene in Apocalypse Now makes so much more sense to me now.

Until next time, a quote,

“You know what I noticed?  Nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan.’  Hm?  Even if the plan is horrifying.” – Joker, The Dark Knight

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 121: Blizzard, Hearthstone, Blitzchung, and #FreeHongKong #BoycottBlizzard

Oh man.  It’s been fun to watch Blizzard take the classic Open Mouth, Insert Foot approach to damage control after they prove what absolute ninnies they are and how utterly enslaved they are to a foreign power.  This is almost incredible.  Sometimes you can see the point where a company does something so astronomically stupid and you think to yourself – how are they POSSIBLY going to get out of this?  I mean, what do they say?  That’s how I’ve felt watching all this drama unfold.  Lots to talk about here, so let’s get down to business (to defeat, the Huns!)

For those of you who didn’t know, there has been a huge string of riots and civil disobedience in connection to the People’s (Commie) Republic of China looking to reign in the freedoms of the city of Hong Kong.  It’s a huge political deal, threatening the future freedoms of that city and the people who live there by an authoritarian nation that will absolutely clamp down on them.  Seeing people so willing to take to the streets and fight for their freedoms is heart-warming.  If only America had done that after the Patriot Act.  Oh well, that’s a topic for a whole other time.

During a Hearthstone tournament (a card game made by Blizzard), a Hong Kong resident by the username Blitzchung said an eight-word statement in defense of Free Hong Kong and their efforts.  It wasn’t condemning China, just appealing to keep the people in his city free.  Eight words.  However, Blizzard, who is partly owned by a Chinese company (Tencent is one of the major shareholders), decided to clamp down on this really, really fast.  Not only did they slap Blitzchung with a one year suspension, but they took his prize winnings from Hearthstone away.

From there, the news went out like wildfire.  It didn’t help that the company issued a statement that Blitzchung was out of line with his statement and that it was all his fault.  However, at the same time, they released a statement to China that was pretty much a ball-washing of how China is great and how angry they are at Blitzchung for saying what he did.  It was found out that the two people interviewing him were in on the ploy, and both of them were fired.  The stark contrast, along with the absolutely insane punishment that was so beyond the pale of what they would do to Americans caught international media attention immediately.

The Internet took off.  The story went viral in a nanosecond and soon the hashtag #BoycottBlizzard took off.  There was a ton of artwork, including turning Mei the Overwatch character into a symbol of Hong Kong resistance.  They made some rather charming Hearthstone cards detracting Blizzard for being a complete bitch to China.  And my favorite, having the Blizzard logo super-imposed over the Chinese flag.  At the same time, it was found out that plenty of employees at Blizzard were rightfully pissed about this.  There were walkouts, and they covered up parts of the piece in the center of their campus with statements in support of free speech and every voice mattering.

So the big question was, what was Blizzard’s response going to be?  I mean, it isn’t like they could say nothing, right?  Keep that thought in your mind, we’ll come back to it.  But we just got an official response from the company, and it was about as complete bullshit as one would expect.  Here is YongYea’s video on the subject –

Never in my LIFE have I seen a statement that was as clearly written by a lawyer as this one.  There wasn’t a single authentic word in any of that.  Hell, I bet a team of lawyers went over this to make sure there wasn’t a single thing that could offend their Chinese masters anywhere in that.  Blizzard saying that their relationship with China had nothing to do with their wording couldn’t have possibly been more bullshit if they tried.  This is the Internet, moron!  People have already seen the translated message that was sent by Blizzard in China, which was a harsh condemnation of Blitzchung and kissing their country’s ass!

But it goes further. See, a collegiate team of Hearthstone players decided to do a little test.  During a game, they held up a sign with #FreeHongKong and #BoycottBlizzard during a tournament.  The response to this by Blizzard was nothing.  It was non-existent next to what they did to Blitzchung.  The people who did this posted on Reddit, quite rightfully, that while their actions were nowhere near as a reckless and potentially dangerous to their freedom as what Blitzchung’s, they did prove a point.  So which is it, Blizzard?  Is having a political opinion only dangerous to audiences that China can see, or will American ones be treated with the same gloves?  Please, enlighten me.  This company is so absolutely full of shit that it is staggering.

As one might expect, they decided to walk back just a fraction of their punishment on Blitzchung, such as giving him his winnings back, in the desperate attempted to try and save face.  Not gonna work, Blizzard!  Your press release from the head of your company looks like bullshit, so you doing that is just a pathetic attempt to deflect.  How is your team of lawyers not able to bullshit better than this?  Between your lawyers and your PR team, there should have been some grade-A bullshit in this

So, what’s the PR lesson here?  Something I learned in the aforementioned (and horrifically boring) Comm. Law class is that there is an option in a crisis situation that one can take.  It’s risky, but sometimes it’s the best option that you have at any given time.  And that option is…do nothing!  Do absolutely nothing and hope that all of this will blow over.  Quietly do things to try and mitigate the worst of it, but have zero official response to anything.  Basically, do a media blackout of the whole affair until the storm blows over.  I gotta say, in this instance, I think Blizzard would have been a thousand times better served by just saying nothing than what they did.  Because if anything is going to fan the flames of this, that response was the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a tire fire.

And all this proves a contention I have made a long time ago – all theses companies who claim that they are super LGBT-friendly are full of shit.  It’s a lie.  One that they perpetuate for the same reason that they are condemning Blitzchung in China – because they want money.  Being pro-LGBT is in right now.  Not saying that’s a bad thing, but that’s what it is.  But it’s all for the same goal – securing as much money as they possibly can.  It’s why you know they don’t talk about the LGBT stuff in China (no ghosts, no gays, that’s the rule).  How people are able to believe that this company or Disney or any of the others aren’t just playing the game of profits with this social ideology is beyond me.

They really shot themselves in the foot here.  If the company can’t learn from this and take the smarter approach to just keep their mouths shut, then Blizzcon at the end of this month should be an absolutely fantastic shit-show.  Really hoping it is.  Desperately hoping that the audience decides to just troll the living daylights out of Blizzard as they unveil their next big mobile game that gives the finger to PC gamers where they made their fortune on.  I’m sure investors won’t notice.  Just kiss China’s ass enough and they will keep giving you those truckloads of microtransaction dollars.

The lesson is – if you have no good response, then don’t say anything.  Trust me, you can’t look much worse than this.

Until next time, a quote,

“With all the variations, one wonders how many deaths are hidden poisonings, with the truth known only to the dead.” – The Count, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Peace out,

Maverick

A Response to Andrew Yang’s Universal Basic Income, From an Alaskan

Greetings Andrew,

I’ve been following your campaign for the primary with some interest for some time.  You have a lot of ideas that line up with my political values.  Though don’t take this the wrong way, I’m going to be voting for Bernie in the primaries.  He’s got the best chance against Trump.  Your ideas are interesting, and I hope you go further in your career to be at a position to make them realized.

But there is one position that I’ve got some serious contention that I think you have missed.  You talk about there being Universal Basic Income.  As you’ve put it, people get $1,000 a month, that they can spend how they see fit.  Your reasoning for this is something I take seriously.  Automation is going to hurt a lot of industries.  And the idea that we can just retrain some of the older employees for new jobs like out of work truckers is a pipe dream.  This issue will need some thorough examination, trust and believe.

However, your position on universal basic income is flawed.  You use the Permanent Fund Dividend here in Alaska as your chief identifier to the program being used and working.  Every year we get a stipend of money from the State, which comes out of a fund of State money that they play the stock market with, so depending on the oil revenues and the market, it can be bigger or smaller.  Though the Recession of 2008 finally caught up with Alaska now that the oil is drying up, and we’re already seeing oil companies start to ditch the state, like BP has done.  As such, the State of Alaska is having to pull from that fund to plug the financial hole that is growing because this state’s chief source of revenue is going cold.

A lot of what is happening in regards to this state’s failing financial future is our own fault.  Alaska is about as red as a state can be.  A dear friend once described it as Texas, but with snow.  So they will do absolutely nothing to raise the revenue.  Our most recent governor ran exclusively on the fact that he would make the PFD the full amount as decided in a formula that was laid out during its inception.  But to do that, in the current financial climate, he would have to essentially bankrupt this state.  That’s how big our financial hole is.  This state is close to financial insolvency.  The solutions to this aren’t one anyone will like, but it’s getting to the point that we’re going to have to talk about things like bringing the state income back (Alaska doesn’t pay it), or raising the gas tax by a margin.  No one likes it, but this state is bleeding to death.

None of this really ties in to my chief objection to your point of view, I just want to give some context to where I’m coming from on this.  Here’s the thing, Andrew, the PFD right now is a microcosm of this state’s problems and a problem with this entire country.  Because stripping half the PFD away to plug this state’s financial hole has not been popular among the oldest demographic of America.  In fact, seeing how these people have reacted to losing half of their free money because this state won’t do something as simple as reinstate the state income tax is just baffling to me.

See, the generation before mine up here LOVES to talk about how entitled millennials like myself are.  I’m not Gen Zed.  I’m firmly in the millennial category.  And according to people like this oafish uncle I have, my generation is so entitled and wants everything given to us.  However, these same people are the ones who stamp their feet and cry like babies when half of their free money is going away.  Never mind that if we don’t do something soon to increase the state’s revenue, it’s all gonna go away.  The PFD is on borrowed time.  It won’t be here much longer, if nothing changes.  We can’t slash the budget to make this problem go away.  Not anymore.

What’s more, I work for the state, in a section that involves children and money.  Make your inferences as you will.  Our Division has a policy regarding the PFD, if they are in arrears.  We can and will take it.  All of it, up to the balance owed.  PFD day, every year, is the worst.  Call after call after call with angry, wrathful people who are mad that their free money is being taken away because of an obligation they don’t pay.  What’s more, I have heard excuse after excuse about why they deserve it.  Like I said, this money has turned so many people into petulant children.

So when I hear you talking about how Universal Basic Income is the only solution to the problem, I gotta say, I’m not so sure.  An entire nation of petulant children like the ones I’ve had to deal with.  Like the ones who post meme after meme decrying the government up here for taking their free money because the state is dying and we have to plug the financial hole.  While that same government slashes the budget to ribbons and does the opposite of what they intend to do.  I’m not going to be in this state for much longer.  Alaska is dying, and anyone who thinks otherwise is ignorant of life.

You have a lot of interesting ideas, and I do wish you the best in your political road to come.  But your idea of UBI has some definite flaws, and as you use Alaska to help prove your point, I thought it was worth taking the time to point out that the PFD isn’t the slam dunk argument you make it out to be.

Until next time, a quote,

“There is no more expensive thing than a free gift.” Michel de Montaigne

Peace out,

Maverick