Sunday Night Open Thread

Carlos the Jackal goes on trial tomorrow in France on decades-old terror charges.

Once among the world's most feared masterminds of terror, the man known as Carlos the Jackal is now a graying convict who has been behind bars for 17 years. On Monday, he goes on trial for four deadly attacks that occurred nearly three decades ago, and the verdict could determine his chances of ever being freed.

Lots of TV on tonight: Homeland, The Good Wife, Pan Am and The Next Iron Chef are what I'll be watching. Is anyone going to check out AMC's new Hell on Wheels?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Jack Abramoff on 60 Minutes tonight (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 07:09:33 PM EST
    explained how his single most effective tool as a lobbyist was to promise capitol staffers well-paid jobs after they left Congress.

    Nobody is going to like my solution: pay the staffers much more. Working for a Congressman should (a) be a job to aspire to (in a sense in already is), and (b) pay enough to keep the staffers from peering over the fence at every opportunity.

    Yes these jobs have OK salaries and decent benefits by many standards. But for interests with lots of money who want something, it's easy to set the comparison bar much higher.

    I might also pay members of Congress more (along with generous public financing of elections) in order to actually make it possible to be a citizen/legislator today.

    I have a better idea. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 08:44:54 PM EST

    Limit their career as an aid to 4 years and forbid them from taking any post aid job that is connected in any way with the government or a company who does business with the government.

    As a "social liberal," (none / 0) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 01:34:28 AM EST
    You sure sound like a reactionary right winger to me.

    Why do you hate freedom, anyway? Shouldn't people be free to decide who they want to represent them?


    Given that the approval rating of Congress (none / 0) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:26:11 AM EST
    is around 13% you would think that we'd be changing Senators and Representatives more often than the oil in our cars,

    But we don't.

    So something is obviously wrong. Term limits is needed.

    But my comment wasn't about the elected officials, it was about their assistants who, according to the post's info, are big part of the problem caused by lobbyists.



    ...are needed... (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:32:11 AM EST
    It's not obvious that term limits (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by observed on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:01:06 AM EST
    are needed. IQ tests, civics tests, history tests, plus tests on basic economics for all Presidential candidates, would improve the crop.
    Hell, if 90% of our Congressmen could add fractions in their head (and I guarantee many cannot), that would be an improvement.

    Oh, heck (none / 0) (#44)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:14:14 AM EST
    I bet a lot of them couldn't even pass the civics test required of immigrants before they become citizens.

    Term limits in CA has turned into a (none / 0) (#48)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:42:40 AM EST
    recycling center.  But, I agree re your first two paragraphs.  

    Punished?? No. (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:31:08 AM EST
    Just opening the door to their future.

    With Corporations (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 01:27:52 AM EST
    starting the bidding at 7 figures its hard to see where Congressional salaries, even with substantial raises,  stand a chance.

    I'd prefer to "clarify" the laws on what constitutes "donations," and what are Bribes. We did it with pornography, "we know it when we see it," and we can do it with Blackmail, "we know it when we smell it."


    Seems to me half the staffers (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 06:24:53 AM EST
    are there just to deal with lobbyists. How about limiting the size of the staff, and pay them more, as andgarden suggests?  I realize that will make the fight for access even more cutthroat, but maybe it's time the congresspeople learned to say no to some of these 'constituents'. They sure know how to say no to  most of us.

    I know many staffers (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 03:57:24 PM EST
    Many of them are making salaries at $60K and up.  they are not yet 30, so they don't bring with them a vast amount of experience.  They have titles such as "Director of ___."  Nowhere else in the real world would someone with limited experience have that much responsibilty and make that salary.

    (That being said, overall federal workers make less than their private sector counterparts, but paying them MORE doesn't seem like an answer.  How much more would you have to pay them for a lobby shop's offer to not be appealing?)


    Unfair (none / 0) (#65)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:31:43 PM EST
    You're generalizing, and stereotyping Government staffers unfairly.

    They may not "....bring with them a vast amount of experience," but, they may bring a PhD with them. How much is a PhD in energy, tax policy, international trade, the environment worth?

    And, as to a title, "Director of....," I once went to my boss and complained that my counterpart at another company held the title of, "Vice President," while mine was merely, "General Manager." My old, wise & wily, Jewish Boss said to me, "take a $10,000 cut in pay and you can have any title you want."



    I'm talking Hill staffers (none / 0) (#66)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:47:01 PM EST
    Average age is mid 20's to low 30's.  And I know a lot of them - from both parties.

    Here is where you can view their salaries.  Now those that require special degrees or licenses - of course those should be paid more. But to have a blanket statement saying that Hill staffers should be paid more to immunize them against the lure of lobbyist work is misguided.  Lobbyists can pay TONS of money.  Paying the staffers more wouldn't solve the problem - it would just be more tax dollars spent.


    And now I agree (none / 0) (#67)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:06:57 PM EST
    with your revised post.

    Also, I noted Leslie Stahl's shocked looks (5.00 / 4) (#26)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:49:13 AM EST
    when Abramoff said how the influence peddling is still going on in full force.

    Well yes, Leslie, and you and your so-called news division need Jack fricking Abramoff to tell you about it. sheesh.


    Leslie Stahl can not be taken seriously (none / 0) (#64)
    by shoephone on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 04:34:21 PM EST
    as a journalist. Her interview with Jeffrey Immelt a couple of weeks ago should have proved that beyond any doubt.

    Is there no longer a revolving door (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 10:14:37 PM EST
    bar for a certain no. of years?

    We have been also watching (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 09:35:22 PM EST
    Once Upon a Time.  I record so many shows tonight but most are not child friendly.  At least the Once Upon a Time series is something I can share with the whole family.

    "The Mentalist" (none / 0) (#15)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 03:23:01 AM EST
    is also not child friendly.

    Too bad. Only one or two brief gruesome scenes per episode - but it is enough to cancel it as a family activity.

    But that aside, I think it is a very enjoyable and relatively original  ensemble cast. And the story lines are reasonably absorbing imo.


    This year there are not one (none / 0) (#49)
    by sj on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:44:56 AM EST
    but two fairy tale shows.  There's also "Grimm" which is nothing like "Once Upon a Time".  Which is probably not really a family show.  When I was a kid, one of the fairy tale books that we had told the stories the unsanitized way.  You know, where the Sistie Uglers cut off their toes and heels to try to fit into the glass slippers.

    It didn't have all the creatures that they talk about on the show, though.


    Have you seen "Into the Woods," (none / 0) (#51)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:48:50 AM EST
    (Sondheim/James Lapine)?  The "try-out" was staged here.  Sanitized by the time it hit Broadway.  But very subtle and funny here.  Apparently some of the advance feedback was that people didn't like seeing their fairytale heroes and heroine's tarnished on stage.  

    No (none / 0) (#59)
    by sj on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 01:01:31 PM EST
    But having now googled it, I sure would like to.  I'd like to see both versions.

    Would have liked to hear the original (none / 0) (#63)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 04:16:11 PM EST
    I've only heard the b-way version soundtrack, never seen it staged. Actually, there is a DVD of one of the B-way productions that I have rented. Worth a look!

    TSA inspects privately-owned funicular (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 07:42:32 PM EST
    in Dubuque, Iowa LAT

    Thank God for Ye Olde DVR! (none / 0) (#8)
    by StephenAG on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 10:42:21 PM EST
    For me I'm recording The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, The Amazing Race, The Good Wife and Homeland. I think an episode of House Hunters got squeezed in there. I'm tempted to drop TAR and add Once Upon a Time, though.

    Jeralyn, there is a SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#9)
    by caseyOR on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 10:57:10 PM EST
    named Lawrencekeaney who has hit several old threads.

    thanks, I got him and (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 12:43:00 AM EST
    some smiley character. Thanks for the headsup.

    Nobody (none / 0) (#14)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 03:18:34 AM EST
    seems to like Boardwalk Empire.

    I like it - Steve Buscemi is excellent.

    But mostly it is hard to believe how they have recreated that prohibition era. The characters are very believable. They don't seem to be actors portraying a former generation. I am impressed.

    To be sure, there is some stuff that I could do without.
    Some physical stuff.... Unnecessary and tedious.

    But the depiction of the prohibition era is something I wish our hot-to-trot-anti-marijuana crusaders would watch. It is just absurd to see people being blown up and mutilated for possession of bottles of Scotch.

    And yet, that's where we are today with Cartels and all that bullsh*t.

    Our government spawned a gigantic predatory industry then, and it is doing so now.

    I like it too. I think it is getting better (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 06:15:48 AM EST
    this year, or maybe I'm just getting used to it. I still think the actors do not seem comfortable with the style of the language, and that detracts. But the stories are good, and as you say the production values are top notch. I love the sets, from the hospitals, to Dabney Colemans's mansion, to Jimmy's beach house. They really do capture the era, or at least how I imagine it.

    My biggest complaint - all of the low level gangsters look alike to me, and I can never tell whose side anyone is on until one of the main guys appears that their side. So I tend to glaze over during the fight scenes, which is just as well.


    I like (none / 0) (#19)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:17:31 AM EST
    the guy who plays Arnold Rothstein.

    His voice is so chilling and calm. Really understated menace.

    The guy that plays that Purvis is a real piece of work too.

    I don't know where they're going with the personal stuff...

    It is frustrating to me that although they list the cast members, they don't say who is playing who. So - besides Buscemi and Dabney Coleman, I can't credit them as I would like to.

    It is weird to me, coming from a prior era, to see a TV series that has only 12 episodes per season. But c'est comme ça.


    Lentinel, Rothstein (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:40:25 AM EST
    is played by Micael Stuhlbarg.  You can find the major cast members/characters here.  A bigger list here.

    I totally screwed up his name! (none / 0) (#25)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:45:57 AM EST
    that's what I get from going from memory. I hate getting old.

    Yes, well I screwed up (none / 0) (#32)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:04:24 AM EST
    the spelling of "Michael."  Oh, well- my fingers don't always listen to what my brain is telling them.  ;-)  

    IMDB is my best friend for shows with (none / 0) (#24)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:45:11 AM EST
    big casts like that. I hate not knowing who the actors are.

    Michael Shulman is Arnold Rothstein. I know that one because it was an interview he did on NPR that got me to watch the show. A very intelligent guy. He was also in a Coen Brother's movie that I love...and now cannot think of the name...

    Michael Shannon is Purvis...he is creepy....


    But (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 03:08:40 PM EST
    don't you think it should be easier to know who is playing what part?

    A simple crawl of credits before or after the program would suffice.

    The directors and other higher-ups manage to get their credits in early on.

    When I watch an old movie - one from the 40s, they list the acting credits, the director, the composer and the rest before the movie even starts - and they manage to do it rather quickly. Then, some of them give the acting credits once again at the end of the film.

    Now, they begin the plot and a credit appears now and then, flashing a name on the screen in such a way that we're forced to choose between either watching the scene or the credit. That's no way to treat actors, imo.


    Agreed. It did take (none / 0) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:49:39 AM EST
    a while for it to develop the storyline, but it is impressive television.   Michael Pitt's Jimmy looks like he is, once again, over his head and in trouble.  I read that they may not be renewing him (difficult to work with) so he may be "written/taken out".   Hope not, I have appreciated his moody acting persona since seeing him in "Dreamers."  And, he goes hand in glove with the half-face man, Richard Harrow (Jack Huston). The half-face man is sort of the iconic character of the series.

    Half Face man is definitely emerging as (none / 0) (#29)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:56:51 AM EST
    the iconic character, as you say. Sometimes the others seem to be almost sleepwalking through their lines, but he always has some intensity.

    Interesting about Michael Pitts. I have never seen him in anything else. I have mixed reactions to his performance - he looks so much like a young Brando that I keep expecting him to be a better actor.

    I didn't see last night's episode yet...but yeah, I think if he makes it through it will be Harrow saving him.


    He acts like he has PTSD :) (none / 0) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:07:32 AM EST
    Seriously, I think he acts just like a messed up soldier.  Has a hard time always connecting with the situations and ordinary daily conversations before him, only comes fully to life when danger and bloodshed are involved and then he is right in there.  Surreal relationship with his wife and child, compartmentalized against anything that happens in his daily life....doesn't even bring his anger home with him because he is afraid he won't be able to control it......his killing emotions, they must belong to someone else.

    I watch Boardwalk Empire too (none / 0) (#31)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:59:49 AM EST
    Never miss it.  Just usually need to watch it during the day when other people are at school because of the content.  G-man Nelson Van Alden is a hella mess :)

    I messed up again..thought van Alden was the (none / 0) (#39)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:04:21 AM EST
    Purvis lentinel was referring too.

    These characters need name tags.


    Yet, Melvin Purvis was a G-man (none / 0) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:09:00 AM EST
    A big dude in the little FBI :)  So you weren't entirely messed up.

    Anyone else starting to find Clare Danes (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 06:19:38 AM EST
    unbelievable in that role on Homeland? I just think she seems too young to have that position in the CIA. And all the eye rolling and whining makes her seem about 15. I almost spit out my wine when someone told her last night that she had 'fantastic eyes'. Yeah, I guess maybe if they ever focus on one point.

    I liked her the first couple of episodes, but she is grating on me.

    I like that Mandy Patinkin's character is getting more interesting. He is very good.

    My husband says she's evil (none / 0) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:10:45 AM EST
    And simply a CIA operative :)  This from someone who has actually meet a few CIA operators, but not in that context :)

    I can believe her as an operative. (none / 0) (#40)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:06:08 AM EST
    But she seems to be someone the rest of them all look up to way too much!!!

    Maybe the googly eyes are her way of signifying evil. ;-)


    Would a CIA operative (none / 0) (#43)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:12:29 AM EST
    Move on you with great subtlety, sex you up, just to have a super secret test to use to see if you can beat a polygraph?  I dunno.  I've never thought our CIA could be that competent.

    ha! Well, I meant her general look and age (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:57:38 AM EST
    were believable as an operative...the rest of the show...not so much.

    Oh, the things she will do to keep our country safe! I guess that guy in the bar in episode 1 was a potential threat too!


    Carlos the Jackel is still alive? (none / 0) (#28)
    by brodie on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:50:58 AM EST
    I thought he was killed by that sleuthing determined French detective back in 1963, just as the Jackel was about to try a second shot at Charles DeGaulle, as depicted in the outstanding early 70s movie The Day of the Jackel, with Edward Fox in the title role and directed by the great Fred Zinnemann.

    Very confusing.

    I was thinking the same thing (none / 0) (#30)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:58:45 AM EST
    that was the first spy thriller I ever read. And actually, close to the last. Others did not measure up.

    No John le Carre? (none / 0) (#52)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:52:52 AM EST
    I can't remember if I ever tried him or not (none / 0) (#54)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:58:52 AM EST
    Maybe I was too young to appreciate.

    His Cold War stuff is better (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 11:18:28 AM EST
    than this books after break-up of Soviet Union.  Although I've read it all and will continue to do so.  

    Amen (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by DFLer on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 11:32:42 AM EST
    and the teevee show "Smiley's People" with Alec Guiness is superb

    Hope this is good: (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 12:31:32 PM EST
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (Dec. 9). Gary Oldman plays spymaster George Smiley in a new adaptation of the John le Carre novel, directed by Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In") and with a cast that includes recent Oscar winner Colin Firth.
     L.A. Daily News

    Yes, the "Day of the Jackal" (none / 0) (#60)
    by KeysDan on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 01:11:15 PM EST
    was a great thriller.  The book was also a page-turner--a great airplane read: take off and the next thing you know, you are landing.   It is important to discern the movies "The Day of the Jackal" with Edward Fox and "jackal" with Bruce Willis, which is awful.  

    Wow, really? (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:09:01 AM EST
    Wall Street really just realized that leveraging the entire world to the 30th power is going to be very difficult and hard to fix?  Maybe even impossible?  They now employ all of our rocket scientists and today is going to be the day when reality finally begins to set in?

    I feel like... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:40:37 AM EST
    Mr. Big Time Horseplayer....had a very nice Breeders Cup!

    20 to win on Drosselmeyer, 20 to win on Hansen and the exacta 5 times in that race.  None of my other exotics came in, but all in all a very good day of investing.  

    The kick in the junk was having 4 outta 6 in the pick-6, nobody hit and 5 outta 6 consolation paid 97 grand...close but no cigar for the ghetto-burb syndicate.  Goldikova getting beat in the Mile killed all the Pick-6 tix.

    How about Mike Smith? (none / 0) (#38)
    by Dadler on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:03:38 AM EST
    Tearing up the outside to blow by his ex-girlfriend and take the Classic.  You know that just burned her up something fierce.

    Added drama... (none / 0) (#47)
    by kdog on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:41:16 AM EST
    to be sure.  I wish I had put First Dude with Chantal Sutherland up in my exotics....$444 exacta, over 5k for the trifecta.  It was Bomb City at Churchill.  97k consolation Pick-6 fer christs sake!

    Very happy for Mike Smith, after missing last year with the mighty Zenyatta in the Classic.  Ms. Sutherland's day will come, she is still a youngin' in this game.  


    Extraterrestrial short fiction by Dadler (none / 0) (#36)
    by Dadler on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:53:41 AM EST