Category: Blog

Is Disney’s break from Netflix a bug or feature of capitalism?

Netflix subscribers of the world have until 2019 to get their fix on “Zootopia,” “Tarzan,” “Lilo & Stitch,” and every unknown second and third sequel in the Disney universe. Did you know there was a “Pocahontas II”? Now you do!

And it’s going away with Disney to a new world.

Tuesday, Disney announced along with its Q2 earnings that they will be withdrawing from their deal with Netflix, so some of their biggest titles and old Disney Channel shows will disappear from video streaming giant altogether. Enthusiasm for this deal only a year ago was quite high amongst the Disney fanbase, but industry analysts were skeptical that Disney CEO Bob Iger was making the right call.

So, is Disney taking its products and opening up their own shop the best or the worst of capitalism?

Read more from Stephen Kent in the Washington Examiner

I, Politiphobe: A Star Wars Story

By: Eric Onkenhout

Politics to me is such a dirty word. It brings to mind words like corruption, betrayal, treachery, and deceit. I don’t like politics. Never have, never will.

When Election Day comes in November I will vote, but not for who I really want because that person is already out of the race. No, I will be voting for the lesser of the two remaining evils. I don’t trust either remaining politician, and I firmly believe either one will say whatever it takes to get elected. I don’t believe either candidate has any concern for my well-being, it’s all about power. I guess you could say I’m the Obi-Wan of planet Earth, much like the Negotiator, I don’t like politicians. Now let’s take this situation and place it in a galaxy far, far away—where war and corruption are on a galactic scale.

I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember, and besides the usual things that interested me about Star Wars like the Jedi/Sith conflicts, and the mythological aspect, there’s one thing that has always made me think—what’s it like to be a regular citizen in the Star Wars galaxy? A regular person not involved in the ongoing war, or not a Force sensitive; just someone who is just trying to make their way in the universe. In a galaxy where the old republic pulled the wool over the eyes of its people and transformed into the Galactic Empire, to serve the people in a safe and secure environment.

As a citizen of the United States of America, with a population of approximately 300 million people, I already feel just like a number to those in office. What could a galactic government do for a family on Lothal? Yes each planet has their own government, just like each state has theirs. But not everyone in the galaxy is a Leia Organa or an Anakin Skywalker, what about the little guy, the guy who goes to work every day to support his family. The guy who struggles to make ends meet, whose voice is nothing but an insignificant cry in a vast sea of stars? Who represents him? With galactic conflicts a norm this galaxy, who speaks for this person? Who has time to listen to his pleas for help, his concern?

Jedi have been known to resolve conflicts between citizens peacefully. But it seems to me in a galaxy where everyone’s concern is who is going to the next leader of the Republic, or where the Jedi are when they are needed, the little guy gets left to fend for themselves. It’s a wonder that no one has stepped up to make their case known. I suppose the rebels in the upcoming Rogue One movie represent the unrest felt across the galaxy, but again who leads the rebels but another aristocrat, former senator called Mon Mothma. The insurgent Saw Gerrera fights for the people, but his morals are in question—his antics a bit extreme for most. Then again fighting against a corrupt Republic and then an oppressive Empire will push a person to the brink of rationality.

Perhaps if elected officials listened to the people who put them in office in the first place, relative trust in politicians  and the process would exist once again. 

Eric Onkenhout

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@EricOnkenhout on Twitter (willshatter82)

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The Threat to Our Democracy is Only a Mirror Away

Today is Independence Day, July 4th 2016. There is no better time to reflect on why we shoot off all the fireworks and wave the flags. It’s not all about what we did in the past, it’s also about where we are going….and what we want to avoid. 

I am by no means a political expert, nor do I even like politics, but I know  this much about a democracy or a democratic government – it’s just like anything else—treat it with respect and it will return the favor; abuse take it for granted, and it will rear its ugly head. That’s what’s great about a democracy, it allows us to be free, say what we want, and do what we want within certain boundaries.  It takes a certain amount of common sense to understand the balance between saying/doing whatever you want and actually doing it. It seems lately our society is forgetting all about common sense and doing whatever thought enters its collective mind without any sort of moral filter. This is a Star Wars/politics blog so I want to discuss what the threat is to our democracy, with a little bit of Star Wars lessons mixed in for taste.

The idea of a democracy is a sound one (this coming from a person who hasn’t lived under any other type of government), work hard, earn money, raise a family if so chosen—basically do what’s right, abide the laws and no one will bother you. Once that democracy is threatened or has lost its  way— the populous will feel ashamed, angry and vengeful. There’s a pretty common example of this that led up to World War II. After the First World War, Germany was forced to pay reparations by the allied powers for the damage it had caused. Feeling angry and ashamed by the time Hitler became Chancellor, the German people were eager to gain some of their self-respect back in any way possible. Hitler said all the right things, as far as Germans were concerned. He blamed someone for all their woes, in this case like many in the past, the Jews were demonized for all of Germany’s problems, and the Germans ate it up faster than the Sarlacc ate Boba Fett. Within a matter of a few years, the Weimar Republic gave way to the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi Party for short—from free republic to Nazi dictatorship. Words of fear and hatred spread throughout Germany from anti-Semitic speeches, homophobic beliefs, and the mentally challenged were sought to be exterminated. “Gypsies” and blacks were also targeted, as they were both thought to be of a lesser race. On the other hand, blonde hair and blue eyes were the pure breed; the so-called Aryan Race. All in order to convince the German people that they were the dominant country/race in the entire world. All to capture and return their proud German heritage. To avenge for the embarrassment they were dealt with at the end of the WWI, at any cost. Let me ask this question; does any of this sound familiar? Not just in the galaxy far, far away, but in our own country right now.

In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Chancellor Palpatine rose to power in much of the same way as his model Adolf Hitler did. Palpatine knew the Republic was growing tired both from war and from debate, and he capitalized on the vulnerability of the Senate; pulled a few strings here and there, cut a few deals with some powerful friends and got elected Chancellor. He replaced the ineffective Chancellor Valorum, much like Hitler replaced the aging Von Hindenburg. By the end of Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine blames the Jedi for all the problems within the Republic and decrees them all to be killed by giving the Order 66. Once this happens he declares himself Emperor:

“In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society which I assure you will last for ten thousand years.”

To this replies Senator Amidala,

“So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”

This is something that George Lucas has pointed out in conversation—and I’m paraphrasing, but he generally says that democratic societies eventually hand over power to dictators. Freedom is not always ripped from your hands, its coaxed right out of them. We must respect and continue to enshrine our freedoms– because once we give them away it’s not something that is easily taken back without a fight; think of it like a person’s trust.

The bottom line is that we are our own threat to democracy. We can either dismiss the fear that is spouted at us day after day in the media, listen to our conscience and do what’s right and help each other, listen to each other, and work together….. or we can let our fears govern our actions and gradually  lose our democracy. Germany let the fear lead to anger, and anger lead to hate….and hate lead to insurmountable suffering. It cost them not only their rights, but their country which was left in ruins by 1945. It’s up to us how we want to proceed….united we stand and divided we will fall.

It’s really that simple.

By Eric Onkenhout
You can find me at thecantinacast.net, thebearededtrio.com, and coffeewithkenobi.com
@EricOnkenhout on Twitter

Facebook/EricOnkenhout

Brexit: Star Wars Can Make Sense of Britain Leaving the EU

By: Swara Salih 

The political underpinnings of the prequels never cease to fascinate me. One instance that is especially pertinent, as I’m now writing from the UK., is the formation of the Confederacy of Independent Systems between Episodes I & II. This week, Great Britain, in an historical referendum with far reaching consequences, voted to leave the European Union (EU). Is Britain an outlier, or the first domino to fall in a wave of voter discontent that has characterized 2016 for the western world?

SeparatistSenate-HOBS The Confederacy of Independent Systems convenes (The Clone Wars TV series) 

The EU and the Old Republic are similar, despite being on literally cosmically different scales. Both are multi-government systems united by the prospect of facilitating free trade and commerce between borders. The Republic expanded not through force, but by pulling outlier systems in with the promise of trade with the Core Worlds. While the EU began with the express intent of preventing another continental war, having just come out of World War II, it started with these same economic underpinnings. West Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg signed the Schuman Plan, which established a single-authority to control the production of steel and coal in Europe, thereby ensuring that none of the member countries could make weapons of war to use against each other, as they did in the recent past. Eventually this led to the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which established the European Economic Association (EEC), which aimed to create a common market for its member through the elimination of most existing trade barriers and the establishment of a common external trade policy. It eventually allowed for all internal tariffs to be removed by July 1968, allowing for the free flow of goods and services throughout the continent, massively boosting the economies of its member states. Eventually, member states signed the Schengen agreement in 1985, which enabled passport-free movement across most of the EU; the UK is not a signing member of this agreement but has still had immigration from Europe due its membership to the EU’s Single Market, which solidifies the EU’s economic unity with free movement of goods, services, and workers. 

Initially, the UK declined the invitation to sign the treaty. In 1961, however, seeing its own economy falling behind and France and Germany doing well in their post-war recovery, they changed their mind, and applied to be part of the EEC in 1961. French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed their attempted entry twice accusing Britain of “deep-seated hostility” towards European construction. However,  Ironically, the UK entered the EU through a referendum as well in 1975, with over 67% of voters choosing to enter the union. However, Britain’s relationship with the EU has always been tumultuous, with vigorous debate on what exact form the relationship should take.

This dichotomy of wanting to remain in the EU and have it be on Britain’s exact terms might be best represented in Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female Prime Minister. She had played a key role in the 1975 referendum vote to get Britain into the EU. However  during her premiership, she repeatedly decried the development of a “European super state” that would, in her view, impose excessive regulation and taxation on Britain. The buildup of this rhetoric, wage stagnation for working class Britons, anti-immigration sentiment, and perception of corruption in the EU helped lead to the result we saw on Friday. At least one of these arguments had some weight, as analysts have pointed out that corruption in certain EU countries, like Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia, cost the EU up to £800 billion/year (this is 6.3% of the EU’s total GDP). Likewise, systems that would eventually form the Separatist Alliance, particularly the Trade Federation who “disputed the taxation of trade routes,” were loathe to comply with the Republic’s taxations and regulations, seeing these as an infringement on their sovereignty and ability to conduct business. The Republic’s obviously increasing corruption bolstered this argument. Episode I attempted to display this discontent with, in my view, an extreme measure: the blockade and subsequent Invasion of Naboo. While the execution could have used more finesse, George Lucas successfully conveyed the chaos that could arise from built-up frustrations with inherent deficiencies in international (or in this case intergalactic) economic unions.

sep-alliance-1_ee7172d6 Count Dooku and the Seperatist Council (Attack of the Clones)

And we’re seeing some of this chaos now with Britain’s recent vote to leave the EU. Citizens in the UK and the rest of the world are in shock, and markets are already feeling the effects, as this could have massive implications for global trade. On Friday, after the final results came in, US stock markets fell their hardest in ten months, the British pound fell to its lowest level in more than 30 years, and Scotland, whose population overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU, made a push for a second independence referendum. While it is far beyond the realm of thought that the EU would wage a war to get the UK back in the union (in fact EU leaders want them gone as soon as possible to deter further economic uncertainty) as the Republic did with the Separatists, the parallels of instability are palpable. Both entities’ (the UK and the Separatists) actions have far-reaching consequences not just for themselves, but the economic unions in which they took part.

Both the UK and the Separatists wanted to “take back economic control” by being freed from the billions of pounds/credits each entity had to pay to their respective unions, and in doing so created massive economic and political uncertainty. While it is just one “system” voting to leave the EU, as opposed to the thousands of Separatist worlds, both have had massive reverberations. For the Republic, which is a fully formed government with the ability to enact regulations of all kinds on its member systems, the outlawing of slavery being one example, a multitude of systems exiting put its entire structure at risk. The EU, being mostly an economic league, has overall much less to lose, but because it is so entwined with the global economy, any change of membership it endures runs risks for the world at large.

While it was clear that the formation of the Separatist Alliance was disastrous for the Galactic Republic, interestingly Britain’s exit from the EU could simultaneously strengthen and weaken the Union. While there will likely be call for referenda in other EU countries on their membership, some analysts say this could result in a stronger, more united EU with France and Germany at the center, with the UK, often a dissenting voice, out of the picture.

EU proponents in the UK lost the referendum because they had, in effect, lost touch with working class British voters who, without a full understanding of how the UK worked, who blamed the EU in part for their lack of economic opportunity. They wanted to take a jab at the political elites whom they deemed to be corrupt, selfish, and indifferent to their grievances. Likewise Count Dooku was able to rally star systems to join his cause by pointing to the deeply embedded corruption in the Senate that was unable to pass even the most basic laws. The EU and the Old Republic may be very different systems of governance, but both of these crises convey the great degree of economic and political fallout that can occur when multilateral systems of government break apart. Perhaps both needed to create more safeguards against this event, or do more to foster better understanding between rival political factions.

This was written by Swara Salih!

What do you think? Tweet us @BeltwayBanthas or email at BeltwayBanthas@gmail.com

 

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