December 16, 2015

All the major reviews for Star Wars seem to be positive, but no one is calling it an “intense personal vision.”  So it probably isn’t very good.

My father-in-law was watching the debate last night, and so I caught some of it after giving my final exam for the evening.  I ended up being persuaded by Justin Wolfers’s “signaling theory,” not even mainly for Trump but for most of the candidates.  They feel an extreme need to signal to voters that something is deeply, deeply wrong and that they won’t just leap on the establishment bandwagon if elected.  In this sense the Republican candidates have more in common with the Progressive Left than might be evident on first glance.  That they feel induced to go so far out on various limbs is, most of all, a sign that GOP primary voters still do not believe their sincerity.  Fiorina strikes me as the one who is running “straight up,” and giving some semblance of her actual views, and perhaps that is why she has failed to achieve traction after a boost at the very beginning.  She is signaling she will be a female, conservative member of the Republican political establishment, rather than that she will side with the frustration of the voters.  The former is not such a marketable political commodity these days.

The law of one price almost holds:

…most fancy bills trade only slightly above face value. And many of the most sought-after by collectors really have only sentimental or personal value, like their child’s birthday or an anniversary (04072004, say, for April 7, 2004); ZIP Codes (00090210, where the final five digits in this instance represent the postal designation for Beverly Hills, Calif.); tombstones (19182014, here representing the birth and death years of a long life as they might appear on a gravestone; and others known by such names as Fibonaccis after the mathematical sequence and flippers whose digits look the same right-side up or upside down.

One well-known fan in this universe of collectors, Jim Futrell, for a long time focused on bills featuring the number 27 in some fashion—for example, 27000027. “The number 27 is pretty special in my family,” he says. “Not only is it my birthday, but my mom’s, grandfather’s and at least 10 others that I know of.”

The solstice approaches, and I am waking up slightly later than usual.

Comments

isn't a very good what? light hearted action adventure for kids?

It *was* a light hearted action adventure for kids. But those kids seem to have grown up now, and are still watching.....
Clearly the force is not with you, Luis.....

And those grown ups want the same lighthearted action adventure from their childhood

How can we think of this Republican need to signal that "something is deeply, deeply wrong" as anything other than latest stages of a long trend?

We know the painful history, the jettisoning of moderates, the falling party identification. People like Ben Bernanke and me, who call ourselves moderate independents, are no longer the target demographic. Primaries are now, very sadly, about appealing to people self-selected to believe crazy things. This has continued far longer than I thought it could, with Trump as the latest milestone.

The "progressive left" might have this problem, but the Democratics as a party have not for more than a few election cycles. It creates a great imbalance.

"signal that something is deeply, deeply wrong”

Do you see anything deeply wrong with the current course of the U.S., or with its present governmental system?

Do you think electing a new Republican/Democrat/other President will solve any deep problems?

If you started from scratch, what would be the be best method to find/elect the most qualified person as President, from the general U.S. population?

I am a frustrated optimist. I think things are going well, but that we hobble ourselves, preventing even more rapid improvement in health and prosperity. I think both parties stick to their songbook too much, and experiment too little. Their games are in a political sphere with only tenuous connection to reality. Especially Republicans, but not only them.

Perhaps with a clean sheet a parliamentary system would reduce procedural incentives for madness, but I hope we don't need a new constitution.

I hope people will calm down and at least dabble as "Solutionists."

You're optimistic. Don't worry. Be happy.

"If you started from scratch, what would be the be best method to find/elect the most qualified person as President, from the general U.S. population? " - Wrong question. The American system is not intended to empower a single person and then finding the correct process for finding that single person. That is, in fact, the system we refuted when we declared independence.

Yup.
I thought conservatives were supposed to be immune from the naive hope of enlightened government by the best and brightest and instead put their faith in strong institutions and gradual change. But maybe that's just guys selectively citing Burke to sound principled.

Also the wrong question because you don't get to start from scratch.

Apologies if I'm badgering a non-native English speaker, but the word you want there is "reject", not "refute".

This is a glorious insult. Correct a guy, plus imply that only a non-native speaker would make such a mistake.

I thought Rowz was just bending over backwards so as not to be rude. (How DO you correct someone without offending them?)

This is a complete non sequitur that has nothing to do with the question he posed. Saying it's important to have a good President does not imply belief in personal dictatorship -- which didn't exist in England in the 18th century anyway, Patriot guff aside.

"who call ourselves moderate"

One can "call" themselves anything. Your comment posting history does not support this claim. Not a straight up commie like Arjun (is that his correct name?) but on the left of the US middle.

Name a non-liberal position you hold?

Too easy. I think the liberal/Democratic position on education is often based on wishful thinking and the world they'd like, rather than the world we have. They trust public institutions even when they fail before our eyes.

Hillary's mention of free college is not just pandering, it is a dangerous extension of bad ideas.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is pretty crazy as well.

Bob from Ohio has a litmus test and you don't meet it. Proceed to the tar and feathering station for your reeducation.

Given Gochujang's posting history, I have to agree wholeheartedly with Bob from Ohio, he can name his one thing he doesn't like from the progressive side but his views (or at least those expressed in his posts) always tend to be left or far left so I wouldn't call that independent.

I think the problem, seriously, is that you can't tell anti-right from left.

I am anti-right because (1) I think they are more dangerous right now, and (2) when the left is wrong, they are often at least compassionate.

The worst-case right wing commentator is wrong and lacking in compassion.

I tend to find that the extreme right labels anyone as leftist if they are not sufficiently extreme right. In many countries, Gochujang would probably be considered as right of centre. But not in one of the most right wing countries on the planet (USA).

I've read many of his comments as well and would place him centre/Centre left. I guess my conception of the political spectrum is from a Canadian standpoint though, and your Democrats often seem to the right of our Conservatives.

It would be interesting to see a chart representing a breakdown of which political positions fell where in which Western democracies, and how they've changed over time. Perhaps a series of cascading Overton windows. A project for someone with much more time than me.

@Gochujang -- PJ O'Rourke analyzed this well 20+ years ago. I paraphrase: at least when Republicans screw up the lives of the poor, they make a buck. Democrats do these things just for fun.

I bet Goch votes 100% demorcrat and twice for the most left-wing POTUS in US history. His comments sound like he wants "fundamental change" (Translation: ruin). Where have I heard that before? Sounds like he has a different definition of "moderate." And, everybody that doesn't toe the "moderate" mark is evil, er, not compassionate.

I bet Goch doesn't know a person that owns a gun. I bet Goch doesn't know a person that regularly attends religious services. I bet Goch doesn't know a person that served in the US military or was killed in action. I bet Goch doesn't know a police officer that was killed in an "encounter" with a criminal. I bet Goch wasn't in NYC on 9/11/2001. . . .

Plus, 16 December 1944 in history: Nazi Germany launches last-ditch Western Front winter offensive through the Ardennes Forest, over 70,000 US killed, wounded, missing. Think Bastogne and Battle of the Bulge.

One quick one despite my self-imposed limit .. I have shot more guns than most people own.

I suggest a course of introspection. Aim for a modicum of self-awareness.

Dude. Your list is so comically wrong that I walked around the house laughing for about ten minutes.

Who needs introspection?

Either your conception of a moderate is way off, or you just don't care, and use me as a template for your biases and fears.

I think the problem, seriously, is that you can’t tell anti-right from left.

hahaha I completely sympathize.

I have shot more guns than most people own.

IOW, 1?

I am laughing at T Shaw's comment too.

" I bet Goch doesn’t know a person that served in the US military or was killed in action. I bet Goch doesn’t know a police officer that was killed in an “encounter” with a criminal. I bet Goch wasn’t in NYC on 9/11/2001. ."

This cracks me up. I 100% doubt that you know people who fit all of these descriptions, I don't even think you can even one of them. Both of these are insignificant statistics to even the average red-blooded white conservative who likes to pretend he is a STEM engineer on economics blogs. There are many people in the armed forces who do not know someone who was KIA.

The funny thing is, rather than point us to actual life events that affect 'moderate Americans', T Shaw points us in the direction of his conservative fantasy land. He could have asked questions like "do you anyone who lost their job, do you know anyone who died of cancer, do you know anyone who declared bankrtupcy" - actual American issues that have potential left-wing and right-wing "solutions." But instead, he automatically starts jerking off in right-wing fantasy land and asking if Gochu has ever jerked off in right-wing fantasy land. Lol.

"Bob from Ohio has a litmus test and you don’t meet it."

He is attempting to buttress his criticism of the GOP by claiming he is a "moderate". So the accuracy of this representation is at issue.

I think he is a moderate, but Team Democrat, so he writes things like this:

"The “progressive left” might have this problem, but the Democratics as a party have not for more than a few election cycles. It creates a great imbalance."

As if Obama is just as dangerous as Trump, if not more, because the media will go to bat for him.

Maybe Gochujang is influenced by the media, is another option. Its very hard to remain unbiased when its out there everyday selling one side very hard.

I think you moved the goalposts a bit. Last night's GOP debate was as mad as having Michael Moore on-stage. I'm saying the Democrats do not have that problem.

They don't.

Gochujang's posts are more predictable than those of Ray Lopez, without any of the sexy charm. I also disagree with him when he says the right is more dangerous than the left today. Assume both left and right have good intentions and share similar goals. The right is more willing to trust markets. The left is more willing to trust the state. Historically, the state has proven to be more dangerous than the market.

You describe the Clinton v Bush matchup that we will never see.

(That would be sad in the sense of dynasty, but at least those two would be both fairly sane and fairly moderate.)

From one moderate to another, who are your favorite Republicans over the past 30 years?

Patrick Moynihan.

I was a happy Reagan Republican. I thought that the pendulum needed a swing right in those days. I am pretty sure I voted for Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor of California (at least once each).

I voted for George H.W. Bush's reelection!

That was probably my last high point as a moderate Republican.

Suppose a replica of Reagan circa 1980 were around today. Would you vote for him?

Would Republicans?

I mean, he supported Muslim "freedom fighters", cut and ran in Lebanon, acquiesced to a immigration amnesty, never invaded anything bigger than Grenada, dealt with Iran, talked to the Soviets and presided over bg deficts. Seems a RINO, vlearly not Trump material.

As Thiago notes, this is a very interesting question. Would a modern Reagan want to "carpet bomb" Syria?

What was it you liked about Reagan? Tax cuts? "Welfare queen" rhetoric? Firing PATCO workers? "Evil empire" rhetoric? All of the above? Other?

His movies?

I was watching a lot of William F. Buckley in my youth. I think I leaned against the "old liberalism" of the day. I clearly remember Gary Hart claiming, for instance, that "government is the train that pulls the economy." Compared to that Milton Friedman and Free to Choose looked pretty good. Reducing government looked good (and in certain sectors still looks good), but it all degraded to "shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub" madness.

I think it is kind of sad that a genuine moderate will never be elected President, and that we are doomed to pendulum swings from one kind of excess to the other, but perhaps that is the nature of democracy itself.

(And now I will self-limit my comments, because it is already too high today.)

To satisfy my many curious readers, I took the Political Compass test.

Economic Left/Right: 0.0
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.18

Pretty amazing that I rocked a 0.0 on left/right, first try, no cheating.

Economic Left/Right: -1.38
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.64
I am a Commie!

Economic: 2.25
Social: -2.15

Libertarianish right, but not by a lot.

I didn't like the wording on a lot of questions and would have preferred a neutral button.

Also, on the graph, Thatcher is a stone's throw from Hitler. This tells me the site is run by UK lefties.

Thiago is in the Ghandi quadrent, Brian the Friedman one. Neither is a terrible place to be. Much better than up the authoritarian side.

"Also, on the graph, Thatcher is a stone’s throw from Hitler."
More or less the same stone that prevents Gandhi from being in Stalin's quadrant or Hitler from being a leftist (they even point out that Hitler was a Keinesian avan la lettre "and to the left of some of today's Labour parties").

-.88 left,-4.36 Lib.
I think you are pretty close to the centre.
One of the problems with this having lived in both the UK and USA I would answer differently on some questions.

LOL, according to that site, Barack Obama is past center right (6/10).

https://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2012

Obama's policies are pretty center, maybe slightly left of. In 2008 he didn't hit the banks very hard, when he could have nationalized them. ACA is an attempt to fix a big problem in the face of total opposition, and a center-ish solution to boot. His foreign policy is almost libertarian in its desire to stay out of things. He's not Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or even John Edwards.

The reason the right froths at the mouth with the 'worst president ever' junk is not ideological so much as stylistic: he's aloof, not good at working with the other side (or even his own), he's black, he somehow got re-elected, he's just so 'other', but he's nowhere near hard left.

He supports the TPP. Is that not pretty centre-right?

Gochujang December 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

Dude, this is just pathetic mood affiliation:

We know the painful history, the jettisoning of moderates, the falling party identification.

So you are talking about the Democrats, right? They ditched the Southern moderates. In fact the Southern voters as a whole. Obama ditched the White working class. The Republicans remain precisely where they were. There was nothing in the last Republican manifesto that would not have been perfectly acceptable to Reagan. The Democrats on the other hand tried to ditch God and wanted to move the embassy from Jerusalem. They have gone waaay out there on a limb to the Left.

But of course you don't see it. Because to you they are still to the right.

Name a Democrat who has been "primaried" left. Name a Democrat Speaker who had to resign because he couldn't control his left wing. Why is DINO not a word in our lexicon? On and on.

Name a Democrat who has been “primaried” left

Can't think of any. Especially a prominent one who, say, was a few hundred votes from being VP

So your point is that the Democrat Party is so far to the Left that there is no one more Left than they are?

Lieberman was driven out of the Democratic Party. So where some Blue Dogs. Some were defeated in the primaries - although Gary Condit was a special case.

Rodney Alexander (LA-5) - Became a Republican in 2004
Nathan Deal (GA-9) - Became a Republican in 1995
Ralph Hall (TX-4) - Became a Republican in 2004
Jimmy Hayes (LA-7) - Became a Republican in 1995
Virgil Goode (VA-5) - Became a Republican in 2002
Parker Griffith (AL-5) - Became a Republican in 2009
Michael Parker (MS-4) - Became a Republican in 1995
Billy Tauzin (LA-3) - Became a Republican in 1995

Do you know what's sad here? Every darn one of you who wanted to talk about "Gochujang is not a moderate" did it because you can't day "Trump is not the leading Republican candidate."

I look across at national primary polls and Trump leads every darn one of them.

But let's talk more about Gochujang. Surely that is the big news, and shapes the future of the Republican Party.

Wow. Just caught up with this entire exchange.

I'm sure you don't need to don't need me to tell you this, but, don't take that crap personally. I enjoy the intelligent conservative/libertarian commentary on this blog, but it also has one of the worst cases of Obama Derangement Syndrome in the high-level blogosphere (not to mention Krugman Derangement Syndrome). Anybody who doesn't want to dismantle 85% of the government is either a full-on commie, or at a minimum is in lockstep with Obongo and his Muslim Kenyan social engineering activism agenda.

And we're literally talking about a guy who implemented Romneycare nationwide! An AEI/Heritage Foundation proposal! Did any of these people watch the debate last night? It was an embarrassment. OK I have to stop now before I go on a full-on rant.

Romneycare nationwide! An AEI/Heritage Foundation proposal!

We really don't need you lying in this thread.

I take it pretty lightly, but it kind of caught up with me. I was patiently answering questions and then ..

why is it about me, and not about Trump?

an answer it itself I guess.

Interesting that much of Trump's appeal is to his lack of fealty to special interest groups. Aren't his fellow republicans interested in increasing special interest access? Republicans have divergent philosophies that don't seem to get argued within the party.

Well, so Trump claims. He's also been the biggest and most enthusiastic backer of corn ethanol in Iowa.

"But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to," perhaps.

I was pleased to learn today that the ethanol mandate actually phases out over the next few years even if no one does anything. So its not a problem for much longer.

but no one is calling it an “intense personal vision.”
Well, thank god for that.
You were expecting Last Year in Marienbad crossed with Tree of Life, or something ?

Time to reconnect with your inner child, possibly...
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/dec/16/star-wars-the-force-awakens-review-a-spectacular-homecoming
I had a feeling in the cinema I haven’t had since I was 16: not knowing whether to burst into tears or into applause...

I really thought Christine I am not a witch O'Donnell was Republican craziness jumping the shark. And certainly for a while they tried to look sane .. but geez

Didnt she loose pretty much every election she ran in? You really think someone who won one primary is representative of the whole Republican party?

On the other hand, Democrats elected a man who thought Guam could tip over. But I guess that's not crazy because, Democrat.

Star Wars is now under "professional" management, and they need to make sure this new movie is a foothold for a whole new ecosystem of movies. This means that on the one hand they will make sure it isn't a train wreck like the other recent movies, which I'm happy about, but on the other hand there's very likely not going to be much that's original, visonary, risk-taking, and so on. In other words it will be an A- or B+ cookie-cutter action-adventure movie very similar to the ones we've seen these past several years. I'm not sure if I think that's worth it on net. There's a part of me that would prefer to see a real creative gamble.

And yes, if you're still voting Republican at this point, you really really really haven't been paying attention.

"And yes, if you’re still voting Republican at this point, you really really really haven’t been paying attention."

Well, the corrupt, incompetent, rules-are-for-little-people, charisma-challenged Hillary Clinton (who seems to be running against all Bill's centrist policies for good measure) is surely not getting my support. Looks like probability of yet another libertarian protest vote is high.

"I don't want to have any debates. They only lower my chance of winning. As a compromise, let's have a debate on Saturday, so no one will watch." -Hillary Clinton. To which the Democratic leadership smiles and nods.

This at least is faulting someone for astuteness. However she ended up with an early mandate, she has it, and would be crazy to throw it away.

Of course smiles and nods, Jeb should be so lucky.

If something happens to Secretary Clinton (which could range from her losing the election to her death), the Democrats are in a lot of trouble because she has forced out so much of her competition. Who could run in 2020?

There seems to be little concern in either party about the health of the party. The GOP's sickness is too many candidates and too much crazy; the Dems is that there are no candidates and no new ideas for fear of pissing off the big boss.

Will Clinton pick a VP to position a strong candidate for 2024? That would solve both problems. Perhaps a party with internal discipline could do it.

(I would not normally be one to speak for party discipline, but in 2015 it seems a huge competitive advantage. A force for reason.)

The sad part for the Democrats, and a lot of them know it, is that their most charismatic possible female candidate can't run for president: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKux363Dg64

And yes, if you’re still voting Republican at this point, you really really really haven’t been paying attention.

Ah yes, Hillary Clinton: the ethics of Bill Clinton with none of the charm.

Was the original Star Wars a risk taker? It was visionary in that it imagined a new world, but it was also a pastiche of samurai movies and WW2 dogfights (sometimes shot scene for scene). And the trope of nobody kid turning out to be the hero and to save the day against the big meeanie wasn't revolutionary either.
Once you are already in that universe, how different can you make it? There is the cannon of the 6 other movies that have to be respected. I'll be happy as long as it is not a train wreck and fits in comfortably with movies 4-6.

You right that the original Star Wars borrowed heavily from a handful of other movies, but as someone who was fairly aware of what was going on in comic books and science-fiction literature at the time, the 'visionary' aspect of the total world Lucas created looked just as derivative in its details and nuance. There was virtually nothing in the film when I first saw it that I hadn't seen before. I think the greatest accomplishment of that first film was that it did a credible job of tying together all those bits and pieces without the usual pitfalls that doomed most other science fiction films up till then (heavy handed themes; clunky visual effects; horrid acting; obscure philosophical ideas; schlock). Take a look at a list of 'great' sci-fi films from before 1977, and see how many you can find that don't check off at least 2 or 3 of those pitfalls.

Worth noting too that the one time Fiorina seemed to pick up steam was when she was engaging in that kind of signalling via making things up about the Planned Parenthood videos.

Fiorina and Ted Cruz playing Commander in Chief usually provides the real comedy value for these gatherings, and last night was no different. Cruz finally reached peak incoherence.

Dec. 13 marked the 76th anniversary of "Gone With the Wind." Forty years later, the biggest cinematic news wasn't a sequel to GWTW. It was "Star Wars," a brand new achievement in film spectacle. There is your Great Stagnation.

76 ≠ 40

You miss my point. The first Star Wars came out about 40 years after GWTW. This latest Star Wars movie is coming out about 40 years after that. Now do you get it?

Ohhh I see your point now. You're saying the existence of a sequel represents the state of the art, and that better and different things haven't been done in the forty years between.

It's like when Dodge re-released the Challenger. Cars are terrible!

I think he meant between GWTW and Empire Strikes Back, whick was a little over 40 years.

Star Wars is exhibit A in the case for why copyright terms should be limited to thirty years. Three decades of proceeds and royalty is far more than enough to incentive creative endeavors. After that length the work has been successful enough to demonstrate staying power, or its faded into obscurity. If the latter no one cares if the copyright expires. If the former, then its tightly woven into the cultural fabric of society. Those stories and characters should belong to everyone at that point.

At this point it makes no more sense to restrict the universe of Star Wars to a single carefully chosen cookie-cutter director vetted by a monolithic corporate entity. Imagine if only one hand-selected person at any given time had the right to re-interpret Hamlet or the Iliad?

Or even better look at Sherlock Holmes. Being in the public domain has given us three different visions of Holmes. We are all richer for it (except the Doyle estate).

I can understand 50 years but no longer than that.

I agree. 50 years. A good balance protecting creators and economic progress.

Obviously a communist who's deluded himself into thinking he's moderate :)

The importance of Star Wars was never in creative story-telling; it is as a big-budget Space Opera, and the willingness of Disney to provide the budget needed for this movie is as a long-term investment for licensing, theme parks, etc. Public domain Star Wars probably results in zero Star Wars movies, not three. Whether it would result in an alternative Space Opera stories is uncertain given the John Carter fiasco.

Producers mine some public domain standards every year, but overwhelmingly consumers prefer new stories, in print, TV, big screen.

The tragedy of 100 copyright is that it creates orphan works, rather than a lot of new iterations.

Well, yes, John Carter was a public domain property. My comment is specifically about the needs and features of Space Opera: large budgets. I don't think its realistic to believe that lapse of public domain would result in multiple Star Wars productions., its more likely that there would be either zero, or one (released by Walt Disney).

I need a lawyer to confirm or correct me here, but I think you're confusing the copyright on the movies with the trademark on the brand. A Mickey Mouse movie may enter the public domain, but that doesn't mean any studio can make and release their own Mickey Mouse films, right?

Trademark means that you can't make a character that looks exactly like Mickey (or confusingly similar) but copyright means that you can't put on a movie that looks completely different using the characters (including the names) from a Mickey mouse film.

I dunno about that. Perhaps the closest analogue is looking at the Operas that get recycled. Remember when La Boheme was turned into Rent?

Because Star Wars is a billion dollar industry being in the public domain would mean probably multiple studios vying to make a Star Wars movie. Kinda like how studios made similar disaster movies in the 90s. Deep Impact and Armageddon. Heck if Marvel could it would make its own X-Men movie at the same time that 20th Century Fox does.

You can produce a Star Wars derivative and still copyright the unique characters and stories introduced. Hamlet's public domain but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The interesting thing about Star Wars is that so much of the value is derived from the vast inter-connected expanded universe. New creators would have an incentive to release to copyleft at least part of their work or their characters. Having a "canonical" Star Wars work would be more valuable than a fork from the original universe. Being in public domain would increase the chances of accepted canonicity by the community.

For example I might make a movie about a bounty hunter who's a rival to Boba Fett. I may copyright the particular film and story but release the characters, planets, and ships. I'd gain legitimacy from the character being quickly incorporated into the canonical universe, and other Star Wars community members would get to freely use the elements I created in other ways.

Appears that in the new bipartisan agreement the Cadillac tax will be delayed before ever taking effect, at Democratic (and union) behest.

It's the new Sustainable Growth Rate, exactly as I predicted when the PPACA was passed. It was always silly to judge the PPACA on it's supposed provisions, especially since the Cadillac Tax was in the future and designed (under any reasonable assumptions) to never take effect. It was just there as sweetener for gullible deficit hawks and gullible economists.

The endless delays also provide great occasion for politicians on both sides to extract lobbying money each time it needs to be delayed. How far the PPACA is from the claims of the starry eyed naive economists who don't respect public choice.

Republicans voters do not trust the Republican establishment because the Establishment cannot point to any marquee success over the last decade. Worse, the Establishment colluded with Democrats to circumvent the will of the voters on immigration. The base is already energized, it's like a giant case of blue-you-know-what.
However, it's inaccurate to suggest this is ALL Republican voters, or ALL voters. Most voters have not paid attention yet. The last few nominations all selected Establishment candidates.

There was no immigration bill passed - because of opposition from the Republican base. How was the will of the voters subverted?

Just because it failed doesn't mean it didn't happen.

On the other hand, 97% of reviewers (in a huge sample) at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a good review. Given that many reviewers don't particularly care for sci-fi, it's kind of hard to see how it's not a pretty good film. But I defer to your greater expertise on the Star Wars franchise. And I do fear it will be buried under CGI, as are so many other modern action films.

Based on the reviews, I'm going to predict it becomes the all-time box office champ.

J.J. Abrams saved StarTrek he will do the same with Star Wars. At least for this movie. There will be CGI of course but Abrams actually knows how to use it. There's nothing wrong with CGI per se.

Star Trek didn't need saving. The last film was terrible and the trailer for the new one doesn't look any better.

Are you really saying Nemesis was a good movie, the franchise definitely needed saving.

Resurrection through radical transformation isn't necessarily a better fate than death.

In general, I'm unimpressed with the fact that Hollywood can't seem to develop any new stories these days. Everything is a reboot, a sequel, a prequel, or a spin off. Or a comic book adaption which is not much better.

Right but he said "didn't need saving", I say it did and it did get "saved" in the sense that it brought more young fans to the franchise probably at the expense of older, more cerebral fans. Though to JJ's credit, look at the films of the series that are often quoted as "best", "Wrath of Kahn" and "Insurrection", they had a lot of action, even "Undiscovered Country" did though if that came out in today's world it would bomb as being way too boring.

Yea, do you think those fans will have any staying power, or will they all flock to the next big CGI piece of shit that comes along? You can sneer at the cerebral old Star Trek, but how many other TV shows are popular nearly 50 years later?

Do you think in 2065 anyone in the world will care about the Transformers reboot? Or any of the explosion footage masquerading and a movie that Michael Bay spits out? I really really doubt it.

The heart of the franchise has always been the shows, with the movies as adjuncts. I'm not sure the fans of the stand alone reboot movies are actually fans of the franchise.

@ Ben/MOFO

I'm ok with the movies being largely action movies made for film with the series being more cerebral although this can bite you. The best DS9's were during the Dominion war and not the usual TNG-like episodes of the first couple seasons, so it isn't always the case of action == bad.

To me, Star Trek was nerdy and lame for a very long time; JJ Abrams took it over and made it into something less nerdy but still lame.

Yea "people don't watch Star Trek because it's too cerebral" is kind of a deluded perspective. People don't watch Star Trek because you can tell a girl you've seen Star Wars and she won't walk off. Tell her you watch Star Trek and you might as well just cab home alone right then.

T.s. Eliot is cerebral Star Trek is nerdy.

I agree with you WRT: Box Office Champ, but that's not really a sign of a truly great movie. Transformers: Dark Side gross over $1 billion, too. I'd be mighty disappointed if the new Stars Wars turns out the same as the Transformers series.

Scott was clearly not talking about the Box Office. He was talking about the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Star Wars got 98% there while even the first Transformer movies got only 57% and the label "rotten".

Yeah, I was distracted by the Box Office bit. The early RT are a solid positive indicator. Overall I agree with Tyler's point, though: the actual content of the reviews do not suggest anything ground-breaking or visionary. This is, in fact, exactly the problem with Star Trek: JJ Abrams is incapable of breaking new ground, he just copied the old scripts and made them more action-y.

Hmm, new Star Wars is going to be a hit at the box office? Really going out on a limb with your predictions there.

I never thought that the original Star Wars trilogy was good. The next trilogy was even worse of course. Now for the first time in history there could be a Star Wars movie that is actually good. J.J. Abrams saved StarTrek, I bet he can do it with Star Wars, too.

How did JJ Abrams "save" Star Trek? He turned Star Trek into a mindless action movie. Which is awesome, but it's not Star Trek.

Perhaps JJ Abarms will defeat ISIS and save Syria through the power of Lens Flare. You can't shoot when you can't see!

Look I'm neither a huge StarTrek fan nor a huge Star Wars fan. My favorite genre is film noir from the 1940s. The recent StarTrek movies still have ratings of 8.0 and 7.8 at IMDb. Or 95% and 87% at Rotten Tomatoes. So a wide audience really liked them. That counts as "safe" for me. What else would?

And to the mindless thingy. Sorry when I have news for you: StarTrek and Star Wars have always been that way. They were never "mindful". It's just that fanboys like you that have been far younger back then are far older now. That's why you think it was clever back then and that is "mindless" now - when in fact nothing really changed. Maybe even the opposite is true.

+1. So many movies I loved as a teen are just terrible when you re-watch them. Star Wars is still good, but not because it's deep.

What would you think of the Maltese Falcon remade with Robert Downey Junior mowing down millions of robots in the Iron Man suit? It may be a good movie, or it may not be a good movie, but it would not be the same genre as the original, and it would not be "saving" the original.

That was exactly the point I was trying to make. You grew up with "the original". No new adaptation will ever be as good as "the original" to you. And that's fine. I wasn't talking about saving "the original". It obviously needs no saving, you like it the way it is. What I meant with saving was the transition into a new a era, a new generation. A new interpretation. And I think JJ Abrams can do that.

"What would you think of the Maltese Falcon...."

The Maltese Falcon of 1941 is already kind of a remake of the Maltese Falcon from 1931. So I'm not per se against remakes. They can be good, they can be bad. You can't always know beforehand. I dislike The Maltese Falcon of 1941 for example, I think it's an overrated film noir, but it's still better than the one from 1931 I guess. The 1941 version is always up there because some people say it's the first film noir. Well first isn't always best.

For all the complaints about remakes, the old studio system remade movies a lot more. No two ways about, The really great Hughes/Bogart The Maltese Falcon was a complete remake of the poor 1931 version. On top of that WB made a 1936 movie called Satan Met A Lady with Bette Davis and Warren William based on The Maltese Falcon with a Thin Man spin on the material. (And this version really sucks!) Also, a 1955 John Payne movie Hell's Island has essentially the same narrative but different setting.

Realize, legendary director Howard Hawks would remake his own movie four different times in his career.

This trope floating around that Star Trek 2009 had to be the bad action movie it was, is completely unfounded.

One can make an overwrought, complicated Sci-Fi film (Interstellar) and make $675MM.

Or you can make a fast-paced survival-in-space film (Gravity) and make $723MM.

Or you can make a 100% technical survival-in-space film (The Martian) with that old Star Trek standby - conference room scenes! And make $589MM.

None of these films were as immature and ridiculous as Star Trek 2009.

But no. It's absolutely obvious that we should hire the guys who wrote the Transformers movies, with one who is so dumb he believes jet fuel can't melt steel beams - and just make a lousy $385MM.

That makes sense?

@C.L. "You grew up with “the original”. No new adaptation will ever be as good as “the original” to you."

Bullshit. Lots and lots of Trek fans loved next gen, myself included. Plenty loved DS9 too.

The 4 TNG movies were largely action movies. Even to the point of stupidity in some instances. At least JJ is doing the action movie concept well.

Which is, in my opinion, why they were all so forgettable.

Yeah, I have a hard time distinguishing scenes from all of them in my head. They're replaceable.

Star Trek is - if the show taught me anything - about bedding hot alien girls and the evilness of a goatee.

The original series was pretty crappy. I didn't get into Star Trek until the Borg came along.

"J.J. Abrams saved StarTrek,"

The last Star Trek movie was in 1991, before he started so I am not sure what you are talking about.

The box office run of episode 7 is gonna be more interesting than the movie itself. Worldwide opening this weekend except China which opens Jan 9th.

Another TC [GOP is stupid"] signaling post about politics.

Come on Bob, the GOP has spent 20 years building this brand. Surely they want it.

Trump has spent a lot longer building the Trump brand, and to blame the Republicans for Trump's continuing success in selling himself is not precisely charitable. Especially if, or better when, Trump decides to run for president as an independent.

It has been a long time coming. Palin mania was particularly important as it reinforced know-nothing-ism as a Party value.

But the law of one price never applies in the presence of significant enough search costs. If I can't find the person willing to value my serial number at more the face value without effort that exceeds the difference I'll just spend it.

The signalling of outsider status exists to court the newcomers to the Republican party - low-income whites.

Bill Clinton ran as a Southern redneck, tying together the old Democratic constituencies of the Northeast, (some) old Southern whites, blacks, and union workers.

The Obama strategy was a (winning) gamble - ditch the downscale whites, and well-paid private sector union workers, and trade them for single women and upscale whites. Couple that with high black turnout and the support of the oligarchy, and you have success. Reagan's California is now the foundation of the Big Blue Wall, Washington and Oregon are even more blue, and Colorado is likely lost to the GOP for generations.

However, this has been a losing move at every other level of government. Downscale white are furious at the Democrats, who are now seen simultaneously as the party of their bosses and the party of welfare. At the state level the Democrats have been crushed.

This is the angriest, newest, most volatile part of the party, and thus they must be courted. The Evangelicals and small business owners have nowhere else to go. Young middle-income men have been so repulsed by SJW activism they won't go anywhere else either.

Angry downscale whites on the other hand are so angry they might stay home.

I think this very accurately describes what happened to my formerly purple state, which is now deep red.

The state Republican's aren't doing a very competent job and winning reelection easily. My state Democrats have decided to handily lose elections, and it is an active decision (the head of our state democrat party had to resign for suggesting they run moderates). Pushing SJW agendas and devisive rhetoric on people who work two jobs just isn't going to work.

I mean, it might work nationally but at the cost of entire state governments.

I hope that the democrats pursue the same strategy in 2016 nationally. Maybe, just maybe the republicans can take the house, the senate, and White House.

A guy can dream.

Unlikely. The Democrats have an enormous cultural advantage in the national election - signalling.

The Democrats have complete control over the cultural high ground, and the low-frequency/low-information voters that come out once every four years will vote Democrat. First, they're motivated by idea of being part of something larger, and second they want to signal their coolness by voting for the black/woman/etc.

Mostly they want to thumb their noses at their uncool uncle in the suburbs. Centrist Republicans won't get a chance.

Meanwhile, every year at the state and local level the dependable, uncool, boring middle-class people will keep pulling the handle for Red Team because Blue Team is irretrievably tarnished by association with their irritating niece who moved to Brooklyn and uses terms like "cisgender"

Centrist, genuinely public-spirited Democrats get punished purely by association.

"Unlikely. The Democrats have an enormous cultural advantage in the national election – signalling."

I do not disagree but their advantage is fairly slim and subject to events.

Obama got fewer electoral votes than Clinton, even with a perfect storm of unpopular war, unpopular Bush and economic panic/collapse. Neither Clinton nor Obama came close to the landslides of 1980-1988.

Let us see the Democrats win an election in the face of a cyclical recession [overdue] or a mass terrorist attack.

"Let us see the Democrats win an election in the face of a cyclical recession [overdue}"

Recessions don't happen just because "it's time." They're usually a function of excessive inventory build or Fed policies designed to reduce inflation.

I'm pretty sure you can rule out the latter at this time and for the next few months.

You know signalling theories are being overused when people (sam) are applying them to things that are protected by law as secret.

It's a secret vote. How could signalling possibly apply? Has it ever crossed your mind that these people show up for the most important votes because a) they are the most important votes and b) because they actually believe in what they're voting for (as being better than the alternative)?

Bob - re: Democrat odds in the face of a major terrorist attack.

Such an event would so obviously benefit Republican electoral odds, that I half wonder whether some of them secretly love to engage in anti0Islamic hate speech in order to provoke precisely such an outcome.

Also, I wonder whether Trump might be a closet Muslim, since he's such an effective recruiter for ISIS.

"Maybe, just maybe the republicans can take the house, the senate, and White House.

A guy can dream."

Wasn't it what happened from 2001 to 2007? How did it work?

I don't think your state Democrats are choosing to lose elections. I think they're doing their best to groom candidates for notice from the national party. Run as a moderate D and you might make mayor - but you'll never get any higher, as national will never support you. If you don't support the ideas of the coastal elite that run the party, you'll never get further support, and coastal educated elite run the party with an iron fist.

The Republicans don't have this problem, because the Republicans aren't run by anybody anymore. The Tea Party hates the evangelicals, the evangelicals hate the libertarians, the libertarians hate the Trump nationalists, etc. This allows each local candidate to tailor his brand of Republicanism to the local electorate. The party of Justin Amash is suprisingly the party of Donald Trump.

On a larger scale, I think this is a case of success breeding ejection from office. As Churchill and De Gaulle learned, it doesn't matter if you win or lose your war, once it is over you are out.

The story of the 2000s is the decline of evangelicalism on the national stage. With it, Blue Team has managed to peel off single women (more religious than men) and upscale whites (formerly the bedrock of the church). That, plus the current benefit of gays, global warming, and Iraq keeping single men from defecting, has managed to keep Blue Team from being punished too hard for their abandonment of downscale whites.

Young downscale white men left in 2012 though. Now that gay marriage is the law of the land and Iraq is becoming a distant memory, the midscale young men I work with are becoming quite conservative as well. The old white guys still have some memories of the Democrats as the party of the working man and civil rights, and feel some Christian obligation towards the poor.

Young men see the Democrats as the party of their university diversity office, and being atheist or only nominally religious, see no obligation to charity. In addition, a few decades of identity politics has caused them to identify welfare as something that purely takes from them and gives to other groups. Without Iraq or gay marriage to dampen their enthusiasm towards the Republicans, they might be the next demographic to switch sides.

The challenge for Red Team is to make headway against demographic headwinds - the Hispanic population is increasing, and the late age of marriage means more single women who are more easily swayed by emotional arguments.

The challenge for Blue Team is, having given up poor whites, to prevent their mild disfavor among middle-income white men from becoming a total rout.

"That, plus the current benefit of gays, global warming, and Iraq keeping single men from defecting, has managed to keep Blue Team from being punished too hard for their abandonment of downscale whites."
That is, single men think Democrats are better on the issues they care they most-- or they could defect.
"Young men see the Democrats as the party of their university diversity office, and being atheist or only nominally religious, see no obligation to charity."
Getting these guys and keeping them on the same side as Reverend Pat Robertson may prove as difficult as keeping them on the same side as Reverend Al Sharpton.

Interesting, and it seems like some generally pretty sounds theorizing (no attached data, but again, seems reasonable).

However, I strongly take issue with one point. I argue that atheists tend to be more charitable than religious people, given that a lot of "charitable" giving by religious people is funneled into things like prime real estate for churches, expensive buildings for churches, and a lot of spreading of what is basically ideological information (much of which misinformation *sometimes* even bordering on hate speech).

I'm not anti-Christian, and am perfectly willing to defend that a lot of Christian groups do very good works in many places, sometimes for all of "God's children" and not just for converts (e.g. World Vision).

I consider many atheists as more genuinely charitable because a) they are less discriminatory in who they are helpful to, b) they are doing it out of a genuine sense of charitable giving, not to get to heaven or due to divine directives, and c) the money goes to OTHER people, not just to some pool of money which helps to pay for your favourite preacher/pastor and to get better A/C for summer get togethers.

The reviews of Episode 7 that I have read leave me dreading the movie, even though the reviews were gushingly good. The plot seems just a rehash of the original Star Wars- a bot entrusted with valuable information is being sought by the bad guys, one of whom is masked and sounds like he is in scuba gear. Also, the other new characters seem to me to be basic clones of Leia, Hans, Luke, and Vader.

I pray to be wrong, but I don't think it likely, and I base a lot of that on what Abrams actually did with the first two of his Star Trek movies, neither of which really broke any new ground outside the time-travel plot device used to escape the original Star Trek historical time-line.

I would absolutely watch that (actually, I'll watch it anyway because I have a daughter and it's winter break)

The U.S. is about 5 or 10 years behind Europe, their "Trump" parties are already the largest in some countries. The rise of the serious right-wing extremists hasn't really begun yet. In the next 10 years give or take, most of the people you think of as Republican leaders will be gone and replaced with people to the right of Trump. Same will happen with the Democrats, the old white establishment will be gone (possibly dead, they're that old) and replaced with younger minority leaders who have far less ideological allegiance to leftism or the constitution. Loretta Sanchez, Senate candidate in California, made a comment that is actually further to the right than Trump when she stated that up to 20% of Muslims want shariah law and condone violence.

I bet a higher proportion of Christians support Christian Sharia and condone violence than among Muslims.

My greatest concern are the folks who might try to self-fulfill the Armageddon prophecy. E.g., ISIS, Ben Carson and friends, other radical Christians and Muslims.

"and replaced with younger minority leaders who have far less ideological allegiance to leftism or the constitution."
Then whom will they be loyal to ? Who will vote for them and fund them?

The solstice approaches, and I am waking up slightly later than usual...thank heavens...I'm not the only one...

The Lucas films were, of course, "an intense personal vision".

http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/the-events-depicted-in-star-wars-actually-happened-32560

Wel, they surely encapsulates hisnlife lesson well: http://basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2012/6/26/how-to-explain-why-star-wars-is-much-better-than-star-trek.html

"They feel an extreme need to signal to voters that something is deeply, deeply wrong" - Here in Europe I sometimes feel we live in the age of lost illusions. And looking at the US I get the same feeling. Many people have mentioned the similarity with 1914 and the Weimar Republic. I like these books because they echo te malaise nicely. I'm sure the readers of this blog will fiercely disagree and that's OK. I just want to demonstrate that this feeling also exists on the left.
- http://www.zero-books.net/books/capitalist-realism - What happened to our future? Mark Fisher is a master cultural diagnostician, and in Capitalist Realism he surveys the symptoms of our current cultural malaise. We live in a world in which we have been told, again and again, that There Is No Alternative. The harsh demands of the 'just-in-time' marketplace have drained us of all hope and all belief. Living in an endless Eternal Now, we no longer seem able to imagine a future that might be different from the present.
- http://www.zero-books.net/books/ghosts-my-life - Fisher takes in the text "The Slow Cancellation of Future" as an opportunity to reflect on the transformation of the world of work in the digital age.

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