The LEGO Batman Movie

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Back in 2014, I thought The LEGO Movie was great, and I thought LEGO Batman was one of the best things about it, so I really expected to like this more. But…

It's a lighthearted look at Batman's dysfunctional go-it-alone-ism. On one side, he refuses to accept the help of would-be allies. On the other, he avoids acknowledging the necessity of his relationship with his perennial villain adversaries, particularly the Joker.

That neurosis is tested when Joker is sent to the Phantom Zone, where a lot of bad guys get dispatched at the end of their movies: there's Sauron, Voldemort, Godzilla, Kong, even Jaws (the shark, not Richard Kiel). Joker promptly dumps his old allies (Harley Quinn, Bane, Riddler, …) and uses the new ones to unleash a fiendish plot against Gotham. It turns out that Batman needs the help of his own crew: the accidentally-acquired Robin, Alfred, and Barbara Gordon.

All this is accompanied by a lot of jokes, both inside jokes and outside jokes, and they're pretty clever, and thank goodness for subtitles, because I would have missed a lot of them otherwise. But the teamwork-is-good moral is laid on with a heavy hand, and that doesn't help the movie.

URLs du Jour

2017-06-27

Proverbs 24:17-18 discourages gloating, but not because it isn't nice:

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

Closely related to advice that Napoleon (never quite) offered: "Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself."

The Proverbialist adds the whimsical fickleness of a wrath-dispensing Old Testament God. You don't want to get on His Bad Side.

■ Peter Suderman at Reason notes that the New CBO Report Says the Senate GOP Health Care Would Make Obamacare's Problems Worse. What "problems"? Well, the very problems that Senator Mitch McConnell said back in January that he wanted to fix!

At the time, Republicans had not released their own health care legislation, or shared the framework for their plan. But now they have, and it is hard to square McConnell's criticisms of Obamacare with the legislation his office helped produce. According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate released this afternoon, the Senate health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), would make every single one of the issues that McConnell mentioned worse.

There might be a few Republicans out there that realize that the iron fist of Your Federal Government is absolutely lousy at imposing a grand design on provision of health care services to customers. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have much influence.

■ Nancy Maclean’s recent taxpayer-funded smear job on Nobel Prize-winning economist and scholar James Buchanan also managed to tar-and-feather GMU Econ prof Tyler Cowen. Russ Roberts lays out the details, and concludes: Nancy MacLean Owes Tyler Cowen an Apology. It's a detailed demonstration of how Maclean de-contextualized Cowan's arguments to make him appear to be "a sinister enemy of American institutions and democracy."

Of course I am not an unbiased reader of these issues. I was a fellow at the Mercatus Center for nine years. Tyler Cowen was my colleague. I’ve interviewed him many times for EconTalk and I’ve learned much from him. But I think the full quotes of Tyler Cowen make it clear that MacLean’s portrait of at least this essay of his are not accurate. I hope Nancy MacLean, who is a chaired professor of history at Duke University, will concede that her characterization of Tyler Cowen’s view of democracy is inaccurate or at least incomplete. She owes Cowen (and her readers) an apology.

Maclean's response to Roberts is appended, and it appears no apology is forthcoming.

■ At NRO, David French shares Three Thoughts on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Cert Grant. (The Supreme Count has agreed to hear the case of a Colorado baker who might be forced, against his conscience, to bake a cake for a gay wedding.) Here's thought one:

First, don’t let anyone tell you that this case is about status-based discrimination. The bakery is no more discriminating against gay people than a baker discriminates against white people if he declines to bake a Confederate flag cake. The baker bakes cakes for gay customers. He didn’t want to lend his talents to send a specific message — namely, approval of gay marriage.

Thoughts two and three are at the link. Spoiler: the whimsical Justice Kennedy might be key, as he has a First Amendment angel sitting on one shoulder, and a LGBT-friendly demon sitting on the other.

Power Line's Steven Hayward notes a new discovery out west: Seattle Discovers Gravity Is Not Socially Constructed.

Well not quite gravity, but close enough for post-modernist work. You know how liberals like to attach taxes on cigarettes so we’ll buy fewer of them, and on alcohol so we’ll drink less, etc? Funny, though, how the basic lesson of supply and demand and price sensitivity falls by the wayside when it comes to the minimum wage.

The occasion is a recent study showing that a boost in the minimum wage to $11/hour caused low-wage workers to take home $125/month less in wages.


Last Modified 2017-06-27 11:04 AM EST