Sunday, November 28, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Obama has put new clothes on the Bush doctrine toward "enemy combatants," but the underlying lawlessness of the doctrine is the same. In particular, imagine this: you go to court on behalf of someone in Guantánamo, and the judge has to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to hold him. What Bush said was they can be held as "enemy combatants," and he gave the term a vague definition, such as that the person was hostile to the United States or picked up arms against the United States or belonged to a group that was hostile to the United States. If there was "evidence" those detainees could be held in prison indefinitely, essentially a form of preventive detention. We had hoped Obama would get rid of that entire preventive detention scheme. CCR's view is there should not be a preventive detention scheme -- it's illegal and immoral. What you must do, and what is legally necessary, is to charge someone with a crime, and hold them only if they're convicted. The rule is simple: charge and try people with crimes, or release them. There are not any other valid legal choices.

-- Michael Ratner, "Obama's Natioanl Security State" (ISR).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Can you believe how early we are for a change?

Thank you to all who worked on this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. The previous two weeks were impossible. Last Sunday, C.I. and Ava made it very clear that they were not going to spent 24 hours plus working on an edition. We got the point. Please refer to C.I.'s "E-mails and talking post" for more on one reason for the delays. I (Jim) cop to it and my apologies for not getting it until I read C.I.'s piece Thursday (my apologies to Cedric).

So with that cleared out of the way for all of us, we set out to work and finished at a decent hour. How amazing.

Michael Ratner. We could have probably thought of two but, going into the edition, this was our choice and we felt it was strong enough that we didn't need to rack our brains to think of another one.

An editorial. This is our Iraq piece. No, it's not heavy on Iraq but Dona was in charge of moving things along. She called time and said, "The editorial has Iraq in it, we're done."

Ava and C.I. wrote this and it's a great piece. They aren't thrilled with it -- they never are. But it has become tradition now that every Thanksgiving they review what the networks call "specials." Have they hated them all except for the Faith Hill one they mention in this article? No. They liked the Paul McCartney concert. They liked aspects of a Tony Bennett special. But the only one that was truly special was the Faith Hill one (and go back and read that piece, they confess up front in it that they thought her special would be a disaster). They've covered Madonna, Beyonce last year, Rosie O'Donnell, etc. This stands with their strongest pieces and continues to ask why the networks and the artists think they can pass these non-specials off as specials?

We've been wanting to do a Netflix piece for some time and Stan's been pitching one forever. This pulls in a lot of that and, hopefully, gives you a little more information than the bad reporting by major outlets did last week.

As noted at the top of the piece, we planned for this to be a regular feature. Instead, this is only the second installment with the first being last September.

At some point, I asked Ava and C.I. if they'd cover the Barbara Walters interview with Barack and Michelle Obama and their response was largely unprintable but did include the suggestion that after I go do one thing to myself I consider writing a piece all by myself on all the candy I was eating while working on the edition.

We like Able Danger. We wish we could love it.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we ended up with and, for a change, we're not posting at 8:00 p.m. or later.


-- Jim, Dona, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: A teachable moment

"It does put lives at risk," pompously declared the State Department's Philip J. Crowley Wednesay. "It does put national interests at risk."

Really? What's that? The Iraq War? The Afghanistan War? The US drone attacks in Pakistan?

No, no, no.

What's putting the US at risk, according to Crowley, is not what has been done but that what has been done might be exposed.


WikiLeaks is allegedly on the verge of another release of documents. These documents are said to be revealing in many ways with rumors including that they will reveal that the US government has been backing the PKK. The US government placed the PKK on a list of terrorist groups and never it took it off that list. England, Turkey, the European Union and other bodies consider the PKK to be a terrorist group. The PKK is Kurdish rebels who seek a Kurdish homeland and the government of Turkey sees that as an assault on their territorial integrity.

Throughout the Iraq War, the White House -- regardless of the occupant -- has insisted that they are committed to defeating the PKK and have shared information from surveilance drones with the Turkish government allowing the Turkish military to plan overhead bombing raids along the northern border of Iraq where the PKK has set up camp.

But, again, supposedly WikiLeaks' latest release will include documents revealing that this entire time the US government has been backing the PKK.

So you can understand why the State Department is disgracing itself.

CNN reports that Harold Hongju Koh, State Dept. Legal Adviser, is insisting that "releasing such documents could jeopardize relationships with allies, military actions and anti-terrorism." And when Koh starts blustering, we have to wonder why he sounds like an abusive husband threatening his wife with more abuse should she tell anyone he beats her?

If there's anything embarrassing in the papers, it's things that already took place. The US government has spent enough time in the shadows and only a fool would ever think they could remain there. The WikiLeaks release, if it's anything like the advance rumors, should (a) allow the American people to know what THEIR EMPLOYEES are doing IN THEIR NAME and (b) remind the government that, if only to avoid embarrassment, you need to behave lawfully and honorably.

TV: The difference between 'special' and 'filler'

"If I was a boy," Beyonce insisted half-way through her ABC network filler Thursday night which some thought would be better off titled One Tiny Toe Out of the Closet. Insisted?

We were at a loss for a verb. "Sing" would be the obvious choice . . . unless you watched.


A year ago we were watching the Beyonce filler
ABC was attempting to pass off as a "special" and we should credit Beyonce -- or the camera operator -- with having learned since then. This year, the microphone was usually covering her lips in the shot so you had to really pay attention to grasp that she was lip synching through almost all of it. (There was one song she actually sang onstage.) We're glad that we helped a little and we also appear to have been successful with our edict issued last November on Thanksgiving specials: "No crotch grabbing." We didn't see Beyonce grab her much displayed camel toe once.

Beyonce and Taylor Swift served up filler on competing networks Thursday night. Taylor was on NBC with Taylor Swift: Speak Now and, as with Beyonce, it wasn't a special. Agents must be thrilled that they've found a way to package together footage that otherwise would hit the scrap pile, call it a "special" and get the networks to air it. However, a music special is supposed to be something a performer's doing to reach an audience -- all the more so when it's a holiday special. But in our years and years of watching the Thanksgiving offerings, we've only seen one person put on a special: Faith Hill. That was in November of 2005 and, had Faith not pulled it off, we wouldn't think it was possible.

She did a low-key, classy and touching holiday special. There was a theme and she actually knew what Thanksgiving was. That's the exception. Most don't bother to film a special or even do a live concert. No, a number of alleged artists think that vanity pieces qualify as specials.

Taylor Swift is a young woman and we'll be a lot easier on her as a result. We hope she got a big check from the network that she invested wisely but we also hope she grasps that she offered America not a damn thing.

Oh, look! It's Taylor en route to The Today Show! Oh, look! It's Taylor talking to Ellen! Oh, look! It's Taylor discussing tracks with her engineer!

These are not 'special moments,' these are the strips of garbage that belong on the cutting room floor. Sound checks? They might pass for bonuses on 'Deluxe' CD editions but they're not worth airing on television. If Taylor wants to be an artist -- and we hope she has the talent to be one -- then she might start treating herself as special which means not selling the network your ground chuck and insisting it's sirloin. In other words, Taylor, save that crap for your fan club. You want to be on TV on Thanksgiving and prove you've got talent? Tape a damn special.

Beyonce's thirty next year to which we say, "Thank goodness!" It might finally be the point where her not-that-great-body accounts for less and less of the hype.

Like Taylor, Beyonce thought film of her getting on and off airplanes was 'interesting.' She also thought whining on camera that she'd worked nine days in a row was something anyone needed or wanted to hear. Sears was open Thanksgiving Day. Do you think those who worked Thanksgiving Day -- or anyone who punches a time clock -- want to hear Beyonce whining about how 'tough' her life is? Or that, heaven forbid, she had to get up at five a.m.? Does she have any idea how many people get up at five a.m. every weekday morning in the US to prepare for work?

Even worse was Beyonce whining to the camera about why was she given so much fame and so much talent? "I know I'm not supposed to question God," she insisted. Save that nutty for your therapy session or your crack-up video. You shouldn't inflict it upon holiday TV viewers.

We heard about the Beyonce filler long before it aired because it was causing problems for ABC and because our review last year was rather infamous and passed around. As a result two ABC suits were calling us about the problems with this year's filler. And they were dredging up all the rumors.

It's not just that ___ [rapper] has done a nasty underground mix/dis of Beyonce and Jay-Z that likens their "chemistry" to Jodie Foster and Richard Gere in Somersby, it was all the rumors. There was Jay-Z's 'affair' with Lady Sovereign . . . who was an in the closet lesbian but who is out of the closet now and has always denied any physical relationship with Jay-Z. There was Jaz-O's infamous videotaped interview where he declares Jay-Z is gay -- Jaz-O later would insist it was edited to sound that way (though, actually, the video's not edited, Jaz-O). There were the rumors about Jay-Z and football player Larry Johnson. There's 50 Cent's non-stop references to Jay-Z as "a punk" . . .

Why were those rumors being raised as ABC was viewing the special and nixing certain moments?

Because of what the cameras were capturing.

At the crux of the matter is the fact that Beyonce looks like a half-hearted female impersonator. Or, more precisely, she's like a drunken frat boy on a Halloween dress up dare. And she moves like a frat boy as well which is why her 'dance' moves (which tire her out so quickly) are so awkward.

She was padding her hips for the special and ABC couldn't figure that out. We said, "Send us some footage." They did. We pointed out that her thunder thighs were even thicker than last year, that her body type was stocky and that this would all be highly noticeable if her costumes didn't so pad her hips that it appeared she was wearing a diaper.

On certain numbers, one of the biggest problems, all footage of her face made her look like a man. Only a little of that comes across in what was aired. (See "Single Ladies.")

But probably what got it all started was the audience footage.

Specifically, the suits were bothered by the non-stop footage of adult women who were clearly sexually vested in Beyonce and fainting and freaking out -- like teenage girls sexually attracted to John, George, Paul and Ringo in 1964 -- and Team Beyonce's notion that this was what a general audience was waiting to see.

The network asked weren't any men at Beyonce's concerts? They weren't thrilled with the alternate footage submitted (watch and you'll probably grasp what made them uncomfortable) but they grabbed anything they could.

Meanwhile the 'shorts' grabbed Beyonce's crotch. 'Shorts'? They looked like diapers. And they pretty much all gave her camel toe. "Is there anything feminine about her?" wondered one ABC exec (male) who marveled over the fact that Beyonce, when the camel toe issue was pointed out, still saw nothing wrong with it.

While they were concerned with how she came across in a gender role, our concern was with the lack of artistry on display. Specifically, watching, we had to wonder if she'd ever known passion?

Her performance of "At Last" never simmers, let alone comes to a boil (and her footage of Barack and Michelle Obama as she performs the song only indicates how clueless she is). Etta James need not worry, the 1941 song that she took up the charts in 1961 remains her own. Beyonce attempts some scale exercises, but never manages to convey passion -- no matter how much she scrunches up her face. She's no Etta James and she's no Diana Ross. Beyonce goes into the audience to perform a song . . . with six bodyguards. Diana's been doing that for decades -- without bodyguards. Most of all Beyonce's no Beyonce.

She's nothing. She's been performing forever and a day and has about as much awareness (and polish) as she did in the home video footage she showed of herself at age eight. Taylor Swift's 20-years-old, we hope she grows into an artist. Beyonce hits thirty next year and, though she's really fond of aping others, she's still not able to bring one thing to the table that's original or worthwhile.

She's a bit like a child actress who's now facing her thirties but still letting Mommy run her life. (Yes, you should be thinking of who we're thinking of right now.) A professional virgin who is utterly and completely unconvincing at any range of emotions that are beyond the expressive abilities of the average third grader.

Beyonce called the special I Am . . . It's a pity she can't finish the sentence. We have no idea if she's gay, a virgin, or what have you. But until she can figure out what she is offstage, she's going to have nothing to offer onstage -- as she demonstrated yet again Thursday night.

Netflix plan that works for you

Last week, Netflix made the news cycle with a new plan. As Stan pointed out, most of the reporters didn't know what they were writing about.

Let's start with the basics. Netflix' new plan is that for $7.99 you can have unlimited streaming a month and only unlimited streaming. Despite the press stating that a dollar more would allow you one DVD at a time, Netflix will be charging $9.99 -- two dollars more -- for those who wish to have a DVD sent them. (One DVD at a time.) Possibly in response to Stan's criticism of the new plan, they're insisting that you will "Get a broader selection of TV episodes & movies on DVD" by going for the $9.99 plan.


Actually, they're lying to you again.

Upfront, we all use Netflix. We're paying customers. We don't intend to drop it. But we also don't intend to lie the way the press did last week -- so much so, you got the feeling that the reporters covering it felt their job was to pump up Netflix's stock price.

Will you get a broader selection of movies on DVD with the $9.99 plan? Yes, you will. But they include that "TV episodes" as well and there's the problem.

What TV episodes will you be watching?

We ask because TV episodes -- with few exceptions (a Best of Friends, for example) -- are done by season and few seasons can fit on one disc (the first season of Kate & Allie is on one disc). This became an issue early on when Ty, after just joining two years ago, decided he'd go through all the seasons of the British spy show The Avengers. He put season two (The Avengers '62) in his cue (it's the first season Netflix had) and waited for it to arrive. It was his one choice and he was eager to watch the season. And soon enough, the postal service delivered his . . . disc.

Season two is four discs.

Though season two is one item, they count it as four. You have to watch one disc, return it, wait for them to send you the next one (we generally receive our next discs -- all over the country -- two days after we've sent in one).

The $9.99 option -- one disc at a time -- will not work with TV episodes. When Ty encountered that problem, we switched to 3 at a time. That will still not mean you get all the discs in a set season but it is the number that we all ended up going with because it does allow for a movie marathon day.

The new prices -- for new members right now and for existing members after January 1st -- will be as follows: 1 DVD at a time will cost you $9.99, 2 DVDs at a time will cost you $14.99, 3 DVDs at a time will cost you $19.99 and 4 DVDs at a time will cost you $27.99. Yes, that is a huge increase from 3. With all four plans, you get unlimited streaming and you can check out as many DVDs a month as you want.

We do not recommend the $7.99 a month plan and will go into that in a moment. First, we need to note there is one other plan. For $4.99 you can stream 2 hours of Netflix a month on your computer -- not on Wi or any other device you might hook up to the TV. It's not clear whether that's two hours of programming or two hours. That is an issue in some parts of the country because there are buffering nightmares in some spots -- meaning your stream keeps dropping off and you have to wait and wait for rebuffering. For $4.99 you also can have 2 DVDs a month -- one a time. And no more than 2 for the whole month. You do not get Starz Play (which you can stream online as a Netflix member).

When Stan reported on the new plans Monday, he outlined how little was offered for streaming-only option as he explained that it wasn't worth it, if you were a movie or TV lover, to only have the $7.99 option. He covered Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Kurt Russell, Alfred Hitchcock and others. In e-mails, he was asked about others specific performers and directors as well as genres.

One genre was foreign films. There's no simple answer for that. Do you mean French foreign films, for example? There are a few. Do you mean China? If you mean, by "foreign films," all films not made in the US, Canada or England (British films are rarely categorized as foreign films by Netflix), then, yes, there are many because there are many, many countries that make foreign films.

With streaming, you don't get many new (last five years) films. So to give those asking about foreign films a gauge to judge by, we looked at some specific performers and directors.

French actress Brigitte Bardot remains an international star; however, she hasn't acted in films in decades. So all of her films would fall under 'classic' or 'old.' It's Tuesday, you've got a cold, make yourself some soup and say, "I'll stream some Bardot." Hope you took something that will knock you out quickly because the only true Bardot film is Viva Maria! in which she and Jeanne Moreau are directed by Louis Malle. There's a film with Bardot in a small part you can stream, 1955's Doctor At Sea. But Brigette doesn't become a star until 1956 with And God Created Woman. While you can receive many discs of many movies Bardot made after that, you can only stream one of them.

And God Created Woman
raises an issue we'll deal with right now. Those checking our assertions should do so by titles and by actors and by directors before informing us we're wrong. Meaning? Netflix has many, many mistakes. Roger Vadim, for example, is the director of And God Created Woman with Bardot. You cannot stream it. But can you stream other films he directed? Yes, two. One is 1960's Blood and Roses and don't e-mail us and tell us we're wrong about two, that you can only stream one Vadim film. Vadim directed Bardot's And God Created Woman. He also directed the 1987 remake starring Rebecca De Mornay -- which you can stream -- but despite getting his name right in the description, in the credits, Netflix lists him as "Richard Vadim." Click on "Richard Vadim" and you'll find "Richard" only directed this one film.

Continiuing the Bardot - Vadim connection (the two were married), we next examined the internationally acclaimed actress Catherine Deneuve. Netflix offers 38 films and mini-series with Denueve as star (there's also a TV series and a film she had a small part in before she was established, we're not counting those). We strongly recommend you catch her in the Dangerous Liasons mini-series opposite Nastassja Kinski and Rupert Everett. You can't stream it, but it's from 2003. Other work she did that decade is streamable: 2009's The Girl on the Train, 2008's A Christmas Tale, 2004's A Talking Picture and 2001's I'm Going Home. After that you have 1983's The Hunger and 1969's La Chamade. Six films out of 38. And the ones available aren't considered her classics. No Indochine, Repulsion, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Belle de Jour, The Last Metro, Dancer in the Dark, 8 Women, etc.

If your subscription allows you to have at least one DVD, you can check out any of the 18 Luis Bunuel directed films they offer but if you're streaming only better get used to watching 1929's Un Chien Andalou over and over. Foreign films in the last decades have often meant director Pedro Almodovar whose unqiue vision is created with reviving the film industry in Spain. Netflix offers 11 of his films on disc (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is not one of them). Of those eleven, only 2009's Broken Embraces is offered for streaming. So Almodovar fans, or those wanting to enjoy actor Antonio Banderas early work with him, are out of luck.

Like Banderas, Yun-Fat Chow (also billed as Chow Yun-Fat) is an international star. And Netflix offers, on DVD, 29 of his films -- though not classics such as A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow II, City War, The Killer, etc. Of those 29, how many can you stream? Two. And one is the American film Anna and the King. While he and Jodie Foster work very well together, Yun-Fat Chow is known for his action films and, of those, only 1992's Full Contact is available for streaming. Another talent to emerge from Hong Kong cinema is director All Kar Wai and here Netflix does a better job. It offers ten films on DVD and five of those are streamable -- unfortunately his classic Chungking Express is not one.

From Hong Kong to China, actor Jet Li has 36 of his films available on DVD from Netflix (about half his output) but only one of those, 2007's The Warlords, is a foreign film. Also included is his US debut Lethal Weapon IV and a documentary of filming The Expendables. In other words, if you're looking to discover how Jet Li first set the world afire, you'll need to fall back to DVDs because Netflix streaming won't help you.

Netflix offers 17 films directed by Italy's Federico Fellini on DVD and, of those 18, you can actually stream seven -- and the seven include classics like La Dolce Vita, La Strada, 8 1/2, and Satyricon. You can't talk Italian cinema without noting Sophia Loren, the country's superstar. Her American and British films are better represented in streaming than are her Italian ones. Of the ten Sophia Loren films available for streaming, only one is a product of Italian cinema, her Best Actress Academy Award winning Two Women.

Russia cinema produced the master director Andrei Tarkovsky who directed seven feature films. Tarkovsky is the rare foreign artist that Netflix does well. Not only do they offer all seven on disc, they also offer a documentary he directed as well as one of his student films. However, only one film is available for streaming, 1972's Solaris.

In fairness to Netflix, what is streamable changes from time to time. For example, three months ago, you could have streamed Goldie Hawn's Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winning role in Cactus Flower. But it's no longer streamable. There are a small number of films that are rotated and, depending upon the time of the year, you can catch them. Also true is whatever Starz is airing on its basic channel is available for streaming during the months it's on Starz' schedule.

Now it's true that not being able to have everything will force you to experiment and that this is how wonderful and minor gems are often found. A brief list of films that one or many of enjoyed that way would include:
Race to Witch Mountain THX 1138 The Black Dahlia Aeon Flux Obsession La Femme Nikita Ball Of Fire Unfaithfully Yours Stage Fright The Last Of Sheila Twentieth Century Rachel Getting Married The Sugarland Express Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery Lord Love A Duck Walk, Don't Run

The list above is not complete and we tried to offer a variety in the choices. We've always found something to stream when attempting to. But it's usually the case that, while looking for something to stream, we find several movies we add to our queue because they're only available on DVD. (Also, note, the films above were available when we watched them. We are not saying they will always be streamable.)

We think Netflix is a great plus for movie lovers. But we would strongly urge against anyone getting the $7.99 offer (streaming only). If you're on a tight budget, go with the $9.99 offer and you can see any film available on disc only as well as stream. If you can afford it, we'd recommend the $19.99 plan which allows you to have three discs out at a time (and unlimited streaming). There are also plans for Blu-Ray but the prices differ and would complicate the simple overview we're attempting to provide. For more information, you can visit Netflix.

Radio moment

Law and Disorder Radio

Radio moment was a planned regular feature we'd hope would be at least a monthly thing. Hasn't worked out that way. But last week on Law and Disorder Radio (airs Monday mornings on WBAI and around the country throughout the week), hosts Hosts Heidi Boghosian, Michael Ratner and Michael S. Smith discussed what to do if government agents show up to question you and, with the Barack Obama administration targeting activists, it was important information.

Michael S. Smith: Heidi, congratulations, I'm holding in my hand this beautiful red and white and yellow pamphlet "You Have The Right To Remain Silent." Congratulations on getting this out. This National Lawyers Guild pamphlet is going to come in very handy.

Heidi Boghosian: Thanks, Michael, it's actually a Know Your Rights guide for law enforcement encounters and we designed it specifically so that it could fit in the rear pocket of someone's jeans or pants. It has basic know-your-rights information: what to do if the FBI comes to your door, what if you're not a citizen, I think there's something about rights at airports, if you're under 18. It's free of charge [to download] at and if you want to get bulk amounts we will send you fifty free of charge and then we just ask for shipping & handling for orders above that.

Michael Ratner: It's interesting that it fits into your pocket because you know, Michael and I and you -- well you're not as old as us -- but when we used to give advice to people at demonstrations, we used to tell them to sew their pockets up so you couldn't plant -- the cops couldn't plant -- marijuana in their pockets. So you'd go to demonstrations with all your pockets sewn up. But at least -- Maybe they don't do that as much. You can carry this little book with you instead of writing the whole thing on your arm.

Heidi Boghosian: I'm speechless.

Michael S. Smith: She's speechless.

Heidi Boghosian: That's fascinating.

Michael Ratner: And about pockets, that's also interesting, my daughter once had to an assignment about clothes for boys or girls when she was a little girl. And, of course, what you notice is that girl's clothes have no pockets.

Heidi Boghosian: I know. I hate that.

Michael Ratner: It's terrible.

Heidi Boghosian: I only buy things with pockets.

Michael Ratner: And it's a weird sexual discrimination. Boys are supposed to carry all these things but girls --

Heidi Boghosian: I know they have to have a pocket book.

Michael Ratner: But back to the pocketing Guild pamphlet called?

Michael Ratner: Now Michael's going to say something about the substance of it.

Michael S. Smith: If you receive a subpeona call the NLG national office hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL I'll repeat 888-654-3265.

Michael Ratner: Or if the FBI starts to question you, don't answer even the first question. Just say "I don't want to speak to the FBI" or refer them to your lawyer. [laughing] And that's H-e-i-d -- No, no. But in any case, you should refer them to your lawyer or just say you're not talking to the FBI. And it's such a short little pamphlet, it's perfect for taking to demos, it doesn't have our basic position about the FBI which is: Once you start talking to the FBI or Homeland Security or any of these so-called law enforcement or police intelligence there's the potato chip example. Once you start eating potato chips, you can't stop. It's the same for talking. Heidi's waiving her arms.

Heidi Boghosian: Michael, that's a great point. And, in fact, we do have a section called "Standing Up For Free Speech." I just want to quote one sentence or two. "Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all." So just to remind listeners, if you'd like a copy or multiple copies, it's called "
You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide For Law Enforcement Encounters" and it's available through the National Lawyers Guild,

Jim's World

There are few things I know a great deal about but among my limited scope of expertise is candy, specifically chocolate. Thanksgiving is over and that used to mean they'd start putting up Christmas candy at grocery and drug stores but these days they start putting up Christmas candy right after Halloween.

I'm ranking five pieces of candy that you should be able to find at any large drug or grocery store.


1) Simply the best. Palmer's Gingerbread Pal candy actually looks like the wrapper -- same colors and everything. Not only does it look like the package, it actually tastes like milk chocolate. This is actually the best holiday candy I've tasted.


2) A close second is Russell Stover's Marshmallow Santa. Are you a marshmallow fan? I'm a huge marshmallow fan and, every year, I look forward to grabbing some Russell Stover Marshmallow chocolates. (Just as every Easter, I look forward to their raspberry creams.)


3) Nestle Crunch. Here's the thing, it tastes just like a Nestle's Crunch bar. If you want one of those, why don't you just buy one? It's actually cheaper than this small portion. But, on the plus side, it tastes like the candy bar. Huh? Let's go to number four.


4) Hershey's offers a fifty-cent piece candy, milk chocolate. And with a happy Santa on the wrapping how could you go -- Wait. That's not a happy Santa. In fact, he looks confused. Possibly he just ate one of these. I'm a big fan of the Hershey milk chocolate bars but this little bitty candy bar here is far too rich while, at the same time, chalky.


5) Russell Stover's Candy Cane Marshmallow. I love the marshmallow and I happen to love candy canes. I was really looking forward to this (for me anyway) new flavor. I wondered what candy cane marshmallow would even taste like. I still don't know. The "candy cane" refers to peppermint slices that stick to the front of the chocolate shell. If that doesn't sound like a tasty texture, it isn't.

A minor classic that could have been major

Able Danger is an interesting independent thriller directed by Dave Herman and written by Paul Kirk and Erin Joslyn which follows Tom Flynn as he attempts to discover the truth behind the September 11th attacks.

Able Danger

The film opens with a series of quotes, such as on the need for 'a new Pearl Harbor,' and references, such as The Maltese Falcon, a mystery woman in a cab and Tom on his bike headed to the Vox Pop Cafe & Bookstore he owns. These various strands will play out throughout the movie.

Tom is a character similar to real-life journalist Daniel Hopsicker, digging where others prefer not to look, pursuing when others give up. And it could have made for a gripping film classic but instead ends up a superior B-movie.

Why not a classic?

Immaturity on the part of the film maker.

If this were 1964, the males among us might elbow one another and drool over the boobies introduced early on and the women might stay silent. But it's not 1964 and, point of fact, when a man's getting a blow job and is shot to death in the back of his head, he doesn't tuck his penis back in his boxers. So in other words, we're showing a woman naked (on top of a man) because that's natural but when a man's standing up and getting a blow job in public, we no longer care about natural.

It's that kind of 'thinking' that results in the "MLIF" 'poster' of Sarah Palin at the blog to the film's official website. Sarah Palin had what to do with 9-11 and f**king or not f**king her has what to do with her 2008 vice-presidential run?

Not a damn thing.

But it does go to the sexism and immaturity of the film makers. As does Tom oh-so-sensitive for this world characterization while the women are bitches. For the record, Humphrey Bogart's characters weren't playing at tough, they were tough.

You could overlook some of the above if the film built to a satisfying and true ending; however, it doesn't.

Not since the final ten minutes of Mo' Better Blues has a director so strongly demonstrated no grasp of how to wrap things up. Oh, look, the main character is happy. Oh, look, the main character is dead. Oh, wait, it's not the end of the film still. Still.

A movie needs to build towards a natural end. Not several endings. The film's not complex enough to justify it and all the final ending does is weaken all that came before as it attempts to stamp a happy face on everything. It's as if Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway show up at the end of 3 Days of the Condor making snow angels in Central Park.

Besides being the wrong tone to go out on for a movie aspiring to film noir, it's also true that an ending wraps things up. An ending is not a marathon for the audience to endure.

Able Danger's final ending is hokum and it's really sad that the director thinks he's 'quoting' Pulp Fiction (check the official website and videos posted to the blog) and marvel over the fact that the film maker appears unaware that Quentin Tarantino was nodding to/stealing from Robert Aldrich's 1955 film Kiss Me Deadly.

Adam Nee as Thomas Flynn and Elina Lowensohn deliver strong performances but Lowensohn's better served in another thriller, Fay Grim, written and directed by Hal Hartley and starring Parker Posey.

If you'd like to visit the film's website, feel free, but everytime we went there, our AVG Virus program went off informing us that there were viruses. But feel free to visit Able Danger if you're so inclined. We think you'd be better off ignoring the website and streaming the film at Netflix.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Evidence hurts criminals" -- It beat out "I Hate The War." And we love it too which is why we're hoping to do something on the topic this edition.

"Kat's Korner: Cher demonstrates this is far from over" & "Kat's Korner: The 80s (where Cher proves them all wrong)" -- Kat wraps up her four-part series on Cher and why she belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

"The Truth About Netflix" -- Stan reports on Netflix -- and does a better job than AP, et al.

"you guys know how i'm into gangsta rap, right?" -- Rebecca reports on how the government is shutting down websites.

"Music in the Kitchen," Trina writes about music.

"The false cries," "Gary Younge can't stop screaming 'Racist!'" and "Gary Younge fry your fat ass in hell" -- Betty and Marcia call out the repeated cries.

"The IRS asked what?" -- Ruth on the IRS's questions.

"Cher, the movie, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,"

"The Lady Vanishes" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Where's Danny?" and "Alexander Cockburn has no LTM" -- Mike and Elaine offer media criticism.

"Hard working Barry" and "THIS JUST IN! BARRY BREAKS A SWEAT!" -- Bush Jr. Jr. continues whining.

"E-mails and talking post" and "Thanksgiving" -- Thanksgiving bonuses from C.I. and Mike.

"DeLay squashed like a bug" -- Trina reports the latest on Tom DeLay.

"Little Homophobe Lynn Crosbie needs to grow the hell up" -- Kat on 'feminist' Lynn.

"No Ordinary Family gets puzzling," "kate & allie season 1" and "The Event" -- Stan, Rebecca and Marcia cover TV. Ann covers radio:

"THIS JUST IN! HE'S PRETTY THOUGH, RIGHT?" & "No MoJo" -- Looks fade.

"Veto" -- Isaiah digs into the archives forthis one.

"Travel" and "Landed" -- Betty and Mike on holiday travel.

"The economy and an e-mail" -- Trina continues offering coverage of the economy.

"Chris Hedges and other realities" -- Elaine on the political system.
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