February 27, 2008 archive

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Expert details White House e-mail risks

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

8 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – A computer expert who worked at the White House provided the first inside look at its e-mail system Tuesday, calling it a “primitive” setup that created a high risk that data would be lost.

Steven McDevitt’s written statements, placed on the public record at a congressional hearing, asserted that a study by White House technical staff in October 2005 turned up an estimated 1,000 days on which e-mail was missing.

Two federal laws require electronic messages to be preserved.

Iglesia ……………………………………… Episode 36

(Iglesia is a serialized novel, published on Tuesdays and Saturdays at midnight ET, you can read all of the episodes by clicking on the tag.)

Previous episode

And Iglesia and Rogers hastened down the service corridor (passing a huge bubbling samovar) in a direction that might as well be called (except for folks who are fussy about that sort of thing)…..east.

And Abraham and Rogers hastened down the badly lit, industrial puke green colored service corridor in a direction that was, well,….if you stipulate that Iglesia and Rogers are heading ….east. Then it could only be said that Abraham and Rogers were heading…..west.

On Nader and Kosovo….

There are two spectacular articles (well, perhaps more) over at Counterpunch right now. The first I’ll look at is Ralph Nader vs. the Fundamentalist Liberals by Michael Colby:

Giving Credit

A few months ago, I wrote an essay titled Leaving Our Most Vulnerable Children Behind. It was about a budget cut from January 2005 to a relatively small Medicaid program that provides funding for 70,000 troubled, abused or foster children and their families in Minnesota. Back in December 2007, a ruling was finally issued that eliminated the funding as of March 2008.

Given that we’ve all been so terribly disappointed in our federal legislators over these last few years, I wanted to make sure that I publicly gave credit to them for some good news that I heard today.

Senate takes up Feingold troop withdrawal bill


Sen. Russ Feingold’s bill calling for US troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin within 120 days is being debated by the US Senate — thanks to the Republicans who want to kill the bill but think they have an advantage in talking about Iraq.

Plus, John McCain has just said that if he can’t persuade the American people that staying in Iraq is the right course, he will lose the election.

So, on a 70-24 vote, the Senate agreed to take up Feingold’s bill.  Only 26 Democrats voted to take it up.

Feingold’s bill won’t pass, of course.  No Republican has ever actually voted for it in the past.

But it will be debated, along with amendments, all day Wednesday, apparently, the Washington Post reports:

In five previous efforts during the past 20 months, Feingold has never received even 30 votes to bring his bill to the floor for debate. Not a single Republican had supported Feingold’s withdrawal bills, which have been considered the strictest offered in terms of requiring troop withdrawals from Iraq.

This Feingold bill would mandate troop redeployments out of Iraq within 120 days of being signed into law, while allowing funds to be spent for just a few reasons there: ongoing counter-terrorist operations, protecting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, training Iraqi forces and on the actual redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.

“Keeping our troops in Iraq will not solve Iraq’s problems,” Feingold said during the debate today. “And it won’t help us address the growing threat by al-Qaeda around the world.”

Most interesting is the list of Democrats who voted against taking up the bill.  Here they are:

Baucus (D-MT)

Bayh (D-IN)

Biden (D-DE)

Bingaman (D-NM)

Carper (D-DE)

Casey (D-PA)

Conrad (D-ND)

Dorgan (D-ND)

Johnson (D-SD)

Landrieu (D-LA)

Levin (D-MI)

Lieberman (ID-CT)

Lincoln (D-AR)

McCaskill (D-MO)

Nelson (D-FL)

Nelson (D-NE)

Pryor (D-AR)

Reed (D-RI)

Salazar (D-CO)

Tester (D-MT)

Webb (D-VA)

Dems not voting:

Byrd (D-WV)

Clinton (D-NY)

Obama (D-IL)

The Myth

Remember this:

President Bush laid down the standard of success when he announced the surge more than a year ago: “If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.”

Than yesterday we get this:

The Pentagon is projecting that when the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq ends in July there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when it began in January 2007, a senior general said Monday.

So much for that draw down of US troops.

“To surge or not to surge!  That is the question!  Whether it is nobler to send more Americans off to face possible death, or to say I was wrong.”  

Heh!  Like I’m going to say I was wrong about something – G.W. Bush, Presnit USA

Back, oh a few months ago, the Bush/Petraeus/Cheney/Liberman/McCain Surge™ was going swimmingly!  We were told that it was going so VERY WELL that before the year 2008 was over, we would be reducing the number of American soldiers in the Iraqi theater down to less than the number of troops that were there pre-Bush/Petraeus/Cheney/Liberman/McCain Surge™.

Well.  Not so much.

If you would be so kind as to read on below.

Pony Party: Ultra Glamorous Hollywood Edition!

   Lights … camera … drivel! Live from the epicenter of the irrelevant, welcome to a truly over the top, painstakingly styled and blown-out edition of the Post Academy Awards Pony Party! Pour yourself a Kamikaze, watch out for the faux-mink, faux-eyelashes in the bathroom, and try not to put an eye out on the stilettos that are thrown everywhere – why are accessories can be so challenging???

    Anyway, tonight’s utterly devoid of purpose sponsor is none other than the sublimely entertaining blog, Go Fug Yourself – a fun-filled, fashion-slashin’ chronicle of the bad taste and wretched excess that has made Hollywood synonymous with bad taste and wretched excess.  

    But just bookmark the link and look at it later, because we’ve got work to do, people. Last week, our illustrious leader, the one and only buhdydharma, posted an essay with the splendidly evocative title, “The Edge of Moistness.” The essay itself was most excellent, needless to say, although the exact subject escapes me at the moment. But the title … who could forget that piece of wordsmanship??

    Not surprisingly, a few of the local thread monkeys noticed that “The Edge of Moistness” was clearly just begging to be developed into a major motion picture. So we they decided to run with it.

    Based on past pitch meeting experiences, I helped out by “writing” three different scenarios. And may I say, with typical Hollywood humility, that every single one of these babies redefines riveting, while maintaining the hip, edgy attitude that screams “Story???!! We don’t need no stinkin’ story!!” so typical of today’s entertainment.

    Of course, it’s only fair that Dharmizens get “first look” (translation: Hollywood jargon for “you get to see it before anyone else does” – where do they get these crazy terms?). But first, a few things to keep in mind. In Academy Award-winning author William Goldman’s classic book, Adventures in the Screen Trade, he wrote: “In Hollywood, no one knows anything.” That was 25 years ago, and trust me, no one knows anything now either.  

    You’re probably wondering how that could be. Studio executives are paid exorbitant amounts of money. Shouldn’t they know something? Sure, they should. But here’s the problem. Most of them are … well, since the words “young” and “old” are not spoken aloud in Hollywood, the least offensive way to put it is “inexperienced.” Think “wasn’t he parking cars at the Ivy last week?” for the men, or “she’s only had plastic surgery once” for the women, okay? That’s how inexperienced they are.  

    And now, for you doubters, a true story: A few years ago, I was hired to write copy for the Adam Sandler “movie” “Mr. Deeds.” They screened the movie at the studio and then everyone met afterward to talk about marketing direction (a whole other essay). At some point, I mentioned that the film was quite different than the original. Every head in the room swiveled in my direction. Ten or so astonished faces stared at me, incredulous, like I had just announced that I was receiving a transmission from the mothership. (Moral of the story: William Goldman is a genius.)

    The second thing to remember is that Hollywood executives never read more than the first sentence of anything unless someone is holding one or more of their children hostage. To make this possible, there are people here who read for them – they’re called “readers.” (Seriously. Does someone stay up all night coming up with these crazy terms?)

    Anyway, “readers” actually read the scripts and then write “coverage,” which is a page that goes on top of the scripts, kind of like a “cover.” (Don’t look at me, I had nothing to do with it.)

    Being an executive, however, means you don’t even read the coverage. That’s the job of the person in charge “development,” aka the “D girl (or boy).” The D people then summarize the entire script in as few (small) words as possible for the boss. This is how the sales tool known as the “meet” line came into being. The meet line combines the names of two huge box-office grossing movies — say, “Star Wars” meets “Shrek” or whatever, it doesn’t have to make sense. You just want to make it clear to the executive that your idea is not merely commercial, but a chart-busting monster of a mega-hit.

    As all aspiring Hollywood creatives know, you also want to go into a pitch meeting with your own “log line,” a very short description that might appear in the TV Guide “log” to describe a show. Plus, be prepared to do some fast and furious name-dropping in regard to “talent” that you have lined up for your project. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never met your talent or if they couldn’t pick you out of a police line-up. If you know a guy who washed the limo that Josh Brolin took to the studio jet once, then you can say you “know” Josh Brolin and he’s “interested” in your script.

    But enough with the Hollywood 101, it’s time to get this show on the road. Here are the three different versions of “The Edge of Moistness” we’ll be pitching:

The Edge of Moistness: Version One

Log line: “Hogan’s Heroes meets Big Brother”

    After a spectacular, long and involved chase scene, during which any number of objects blow up, a group of incredibly attractive, witty, sophisticated, politically astute bloggers — who all happen to look spectacular in form-fitting, government issued jumpsuits – are rounded up by Homeland Security. Soon, they find themselves living in an isolated “resort” in the countryside — strictly for their own safety! There, amidst the glittering razor wire and dazzling sunsets, they stage a daily “show” for their own amusement. But the cameras relay their antics to the feds’ headquarters, and before long the show has become a huge hit with their captors. And then they escape somehow and reclaim their country. Plus, a couple of them get it on in the bunk beds, which as we all know is just a hilarious experience, so it’s got the humor thing going for it, too.  

The Edge of Moistness: Version Two

Log line: “Gilligan’s Island meets Lost” (Hey, wait just a minute – isn’t Lost just a remake of Gilligan’s Island, minus the goofy humor and evening gowns? Note to self: Has anyone picked the bones of Green Acres yet?)

    After a spectacular, long and involved chase scene, during which any number of objects blow up, a group of incredibly attractive, witty, sophisticated bloggers – all of whom just happen to look unbelievably hot in skimpy swimwear – are marooned on a tropical island where they miraculously find unlimited amounts of fresh water, sunscreen and professional quality make-up. Is the shipwreck part of a plot? If so, could it be the work of the evil tyrant who wants to rule the world? As our heroes explore their inner demons — while rubbing sunscreen all over each other — we come to know their dreams, hopes and aspirations. Plus, several of them get it on in the sand while the sun is setting, and so it’s got a chick-flick aspect going for it, too. And also, much later, kind of toward the end, they escape somehow and save the world.

The Edge of Moistness: NC-17 Edition

Log Line: “Showgirls meets Showgirls 2”

    Chase scene (see above), involving a group of incredibly attractive, witty, sophisticated female bloggers – all of whom are card-carrying members of Mensa and just happen to look spectacular in revealing costumes made entirely of tiny bits of Spandex and a handful of sequins. Our heroines are forced to go undercover as exotic dancers (“deep undercover,” if you get my drift, but it’s for the sake of their country, so cut them some slack, okay?). Complications ensue when one of them falls in love with a possible triple agent who may or may not be the evil twin of the casino owner who … well, is there really any need to go on? By now, I’m pretty sure one of these will have a “green light,” which is Hollywood speak for “go.” (You can’t make this stuff up!)

    Okay, Party People, I’ve done my part. It’s time to for you to step up and embarrass yourselves! Feel free to augment the story lines or add your own. And – most important of all — make casting suggestions for the actor who’s going to play YOU! Then giddy up on over to the star-studded Front Page and Recent and Recommended Essays, where you’ll find a veritable commissary-style smorgasbord of insight, information and thoughtful analysis. When you get tired of pretending to be serious, come on back because the after-party is going to rock!! And remember our motto: If you don’t have anything good to say, pull up a chair right here beside me!  

What Hillary Needs to Revive Her Flagging Campaign

Hillary seems to be heading off a cliff as far as her campagin goes, so she needs some help!

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