Fascism And Chill?

These days, I’m subserviant and a slave exclusively to data and information, not to the whims and the wishes of anyone who might want to control how and why I believe.  It clearly frustrates quite a bit of people who might somehow see this as a sign of my ultimate demise.  I know this because I know how much time I spend answering those of you who only seem to respond to my musings when I offer up even the slightest bit of what some see as endorsement, which I contend is merely acknowledgement, that a certain political candidate is currying more favor than appears to be within many of your comfort zones.

When these musings take safer routes, such as the one I took on our sister sports site yesterday regarding Netflix’s momentuous deal with the WWE, nary a peep from the masses; barely even a like or two.  And that was before the news from the balance of the day broke, as NEXTTV’s ever-astute Daniel Frankel reported this morning:

Netflix culminated 2023 with a blowout quarter, significantly surpassing analysts’ expectations by adding more than 13.1 million subscribers and growing revenue by 12.5% to $8.833 billion.   The world’s top streaming company put more distance between it and everyone else with its second-biggest subscriber quarter ever, exceeding 260 million paid members worldwide. It did fall short of expectations for net income, however, coming in with $938 million for the fourth quarter.   For those still doubting that money can be made streaming video: Netflix reported free cash flow in the fourth quarter of $1.581 billion. 

Then VARIETY’s Todd Spengler added to the narrative with this announcement of how they plan to improve things further in 2024, since the WWE deal doesn’t kick in until next year:

In reporting results for the fourth quarter of 2023, in which it added a better-than-expected 13.1 million net subscribers, Netflix touted its ad-supported plan as accounting for 40% of all Netflix sign-ups in markets where it has launched that, and said the number of subscribers on ad tiers grew almost 70% quarter-over-quarter. The company didn’t break out subscriber numbers but said it recently surpassed 23 million monthly active unique users on advertising tiers.

To drive more customers to the ad-supported plan, the company said it plans to retire the no-ads Basic plan in some of the countries where it has introduced the ad tier. That will start with Canada and the U.K. in the second quarter of 2024 and the company will be “taking it from there,” Netflix said in the Q4 shareholder letter.

Finally, our friend Evan Shapiro picked up on the significance of another content acquisition Netflix announced at day’s end, from the lens of the auspiced (and, yes, another actual friend), Jessica Reif Ehrlich:

“Over the last 18 months several media companies have re-evaluated their streaming aspirations. Those companies have reduced their content spending and increased their licensing of content to Netflix and others.

Not only is Netflix now in a position to spend more judiciously on content, needing fewer home runs to maintain its engagement, it has outside third-party suppliers once again furnishing it with movies and shows.”

And just like that (pun intended) came the news that the SEX AND THE CITY library was heading to Netflix courtesy of Yosemite Zas, just as its current clubhouse leader in time spent, YOUNG SHELDON, recently did and how NBCU’s decision to license SUITS helped kickstart the whole arms munition revival last year.  As Shapiro concluded:

I agree with Jessica. Netflix HAS crushed all of its *traditional Media* rivals in the streaming wars. Their prize is the best television business on the planet. I also agree with her that once again, traditional Media is selling its best armaments to its enemy. And, (my pov not hers) again, that weaponry will be used to kick traditional Media’s ass.  Sex And The City is not just a library title. It’s seminal. It’s brand defining. It’s also currently active.

I absolutely see the need to generate licensing revenue. But I also understand that to even survive against Netflix and Big Tech, Max will need to sell subs AND ads. This 👇 move entirely UNdifferentiates Max in the market – for subs and ad buyers – while simultaneously empowering their DIRECT competitor. The licensing department at Disco Bros is thrilled by this deal. The ad sales team? Not so much.

So, yes, Netflix had a pretty damn good day.  But then again, so did said candidate, as the UNBIASED ABCNews.com reported:

With more than 73% of the estimated vote in as of late Tuesday, Trump was in first with 54% and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was in second with 44%.

Though Haley played up that second-place finish in a speech after polls closed — drawing Trump’s scorn — she had staked much of her campaign on winning over New Hampshire voters given the state’s more anti-Trump electorate and its rules allowing independents to participate in the primary.

Polls show she is much further behind Trump than 10 points in various other parts of the country, including South Carolina, where they will next face off next month.

Trump’s allies flexed after the former president’s strong showing, pointing to the results as evidence that the primary was never competitive in the first place. “After President Trump’s resounding victory in New Hampshire tonight people will say this primary is over. The truth is, tonight’s result proves it never existed at all. President Trump has been our nominee all along. It’s now time for the entire Republican Party to unite behind our nominee to defeat Joe Biden in November,” Kari Lake, the Arizona GOP Senate candidate rumored to also be a possible vice-presidential pick for Trump, said in a statement.

Biden’s campaign didn’t disagree with that assessment of the race. “It is now clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. And my message to the country is the stakes could not be higher,” he said in a statement.

Those facts seem to sit just like that spicy food I mistakedly ate the other night sat on my gut most of yesterday on many of you who do follow me, although perhaps not to the extent that it did with Rachel Maddow, per FOX NEWS’ Jeffrey Clark:

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow claimed Monday that former President Trump’s re-election pitch is that he will be a strongman leader who will end politics in the U.S. if given the chance.

“Donald Trump is not leading the Republican Party and leading the Republican field of candidates because of his youthful vigor or because of his eloquence. None of that is going on,” Maddow told Jen Psaki, the former White House press secretary for President Biden and her current colleague at MSNBC.

Maddow argued that Trump is increasingly being honest about his dictatorial ambitions to his base. 

But I did get actual Facebook messages that expressed thoughts such as these, especially when I confessed that at this moment I have no intention of casting a vote for either THAT candidate or the one currently challenging him:

You can not sit out this election. You may not like the choices but you must vote against traitor trump. He is a con man and will destroy our nation. DO NOT SIT OUT. VOTE AGAINST TRAITOR TRUMP

It will be Trump Biden again.
No surprise with Trump winning.
My research?? Look at the crowds at a Trump rally vs any other candidate.
Nuff said.

biden will win everywhere except for jim crow and “states” that have more livestock than people.

For some people, clickbait qualifies as throwback Thursday shots of modeling contests. For me, it appears, anything but raging support for J. Robinette Biden brings out some more that want to see me in a hospital gown again.

I didn’t set the rules or expectations.  A candidate needs only to win an electoral college, not a popular vote.  Trump is doing that with a headwind and a passion base that, in that world, is right up there with Netflix.

Peacock owns SUITS.  MAX owns YOUNG SHELDON.  Neither garnered anything even remotely close to the level of viewership and relevance that Netflix’s size and strategy did.  Think of like how Christian McCaffrey became an NFL superstar after the San Francisco 49ers acquired him.  Surrounded by a better line, he became a champion in reality, not just in fantasy football.

Netflix and the Republican party both have better playbooks than their competitors.  Those are the FACTS.

And yet, when I champion one, crickets.  The other:  Alarms sound.


Let me share this:  When my favorite Starbucks is out of a particular item, I don’t just order something else.  I look for alternative stores in the area that might have it in stock.  If I can’t find it, I’ll skip it.  I’m not running to Dunkin’ or Coffee Bean.  Most days, that is.

That’s pretty much how I view politics.

And as for those of you who have admonished me as to all that Biden has personally done for my life–let me also share what an actual friend of mine shared with me about a program I never knew existed, courtesy of an article from THE WASHINGTON POST’s Karla Miller:

For job seekers

  • LifePlanningNetwork.org: A networking and professional development organization for life planners working with people over 50. Use the “Find a Consultant” feature to find counselors for career, health care, retirement, legal and other issues.
  • AARP Foundation’s “Back to Work 50+” program offers career workshops, coaching and resources to workers over 50.

The article, fittingly headlined Work Advice: Qualified, experienced — yet somehow unhirable, pointed to the kind of question that actually does keep me up at night even when my stomach doesn’t:

In our bootstrap-happy capitalist society, success is viewed as the direct result of one’s own wit, grit and gumption — which means anyone who fails is deemed to be lacking those qualities. In his book “The Stigma Trap: College-educated, Experienced, and Long-Term Unemployed,” Sharone identifies and explains the external forces beyond job seekers’ control: fluctuating markets, competition, age bias and, above all, stigma. He describes stigma as a “cruel and circular” trap in which “unemployed workers are often viewed with … suspicion by potential employers, network contacts, coaches, friends, and spouses.”

Sharone also discusses broad policy changes that could help disable the unemployment stigma trap, such as strengthening social safety nets and doing more to decouple health care and other means of support from employment. 

See that,  J. Robinette?  You and I have more in common that you do with your choices for vice president, press secretary and Supreme Court justice.  I know how you feel about relieving today’s students of their college debt.  I know where you were when I was graduating college.  Congress.  But you didn’t have that kind of clout then.

Why is it that I’m just now reading about these private programs, with zero government involvement or even amplification?  Can any of you who care so much about my vote, if not me, answer why you didn’t know about any of this either and, if you did, why you might not think that might matter more to me than my damn vote??

At the very least, I suppose I should be grateful you even engage with me at all.  More than some alleged former friends have.  One now obsessed with learning about the joys of qualifying for medicare.  One about to celebrate another birthday that can’t even elicit a thank you.  Those kinds of rejections keep me up at night, too.  Way more than the stuff that seems to trouble Rachel Maddow.

Not even a Netflix binge can help me when I have such troubles.

So, please, folks, unless you are PERSONALLY benefitting or have an ACTUAL connection to J. Robinette, or even Fat Orange Jesus, spare me and my followers your thoughts for now.  It’s a loooong way to November and, sure, anything COULD happen.  I see no tangible signs that it will, but I’m at least open to the possibility it might.

Can we please agree to disagree?

And maybe you can check in on me on occasion about other things in my life besides who I’m not voting for?

Until next time…


1 thought on “Fascism And Chill?”

  1. Steve Leblang, Another excellent piece. Your post is a testament to a real thinker’s unwavering commitment to objective analysis of market demographics & real data (not wishful thinking) and information, emphasizing their independence from external influences in forming their beliefs. It’s admirable to see you stand firm in your convictions, even when it frustrates others who may expect them to conform. Your candid acknowledgment of political dynamics and their preference for data-driven analysis is refreshing.

    Furthermore, your insightful commentary on Netflix’s remarkable performance in 2023 is commendable. Love your ability to dissect the streaming giant’s achievements and financial milestones. It demonstrates a keen understanding of the streaming industry. It’s evident that your dedication to delivering well-informed content shines through, making your blog a valuable source of information and analysis for their readers.


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