The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Washington Post: "California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County late Wednesday after an onshore pipeline burst, spewing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean — blackening beaches and endangering West Coast wildlife. The area, a popular camping spot some 20 miles from Santa Barbara, known for its palm tree-lined seashore and pristine surf, has been “closed indefinitely.” The extent of the damage is not known."

New York Times: "Islamic State militants on Thursday solidified their rout of Syrian government forces in the historic desert city of Palmyra, moving to the outskirts to seize its airport and the notorious Tadmur Prison, according to residents and statements from the group. It was the first time that the ISIS militants seized an entire city from Syrian government forces; it won control of its first major city, Raqqa, from Syrian insurgents and the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front after the two became rivals."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

Washington Post: "Nearly 34 million cars and trucks nationwide were declared defective Tuesday because of deadly air bags made by auto-parts giant Takata, in what is expected to be the biggest recall of any consumer product in U.S. history. The expanded recall doubled the number of vehicles believed to have the air bags, which can blast out sharp metal shrapnel when deployed, a flaw that has been linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries." ...

... The Post has a partial list of the vehicle makes that may have the dangerous air bags. "But neither automakers nor the government has made it easy to find out whether your car is included — and how it should be fixed.... Consumers reported Tuesday that they got conflicting answers or no answers at all when they called dealerships about the recall. Meanwhile, car manufacturers said people should continue to drive their vehicles — even those with the deadly defect — until the parts arrive at their local dealerships." CW: Comforting. You can still get to work, but do watch for flying shapnel.

ABC News: "Vice President Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, is undergoing treatment at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Office of the Vice President told ABC News."

Guardian: "Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has cancelled a pilot scheme banning Palestinian workers from Israeli buses in the occupied territories – denounced as tantamount to apartheid – only hours after it was announced. The plan had been approved by Netanyahu’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, but was cancelled amid fierce criticism from Israeli opposition figures, human rights groups and a former minister in Netanyahu’s own party, who said it was a 'stain on the face of Israel' that would damage its international image."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
May 21

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: White House Mapathon

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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Vice President Biden has been instructed not to do his hilarious Hu's on First routine in front of the President of China. -- Jimmy Kimmel

She's a beauty queen, so right away I hate her. I think she's stealing my act, so that pisses me off. -- Roseanne Barr, on Sarah Palin

What I'm trying to do is help run out the clock. -- Sen. Jim DeMint, December 16, 2010 ...

... We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th. That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out. It's a long clock. -- Sen. Harry Reid

Winning the competition would mean a lot to me.... It would feel like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me! -- Bristol Palin, in her classy vernacular way, signaling to tea partiers to keep those phone votes coming ... Palin came in third in the "Dancing with the Stars" finale, behind winner "Jennifer Grey, 50-year-old star of 'Dirty Dancing,' [and] 19-year-old Disney star Kyle Massey."

If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two. -- James Carville

... Update: If I offended anybody, I'm not sorry and I don't apologize. -- James Carville ...

They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive. -- Roger Ailes, Fox "News" CEO, referring to NPR executives

At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot. -- Pool Report

It's All about Bill. Where is the love? I ought to be the tea party's poster child. -- Bill Clinton, November 1, 2010

Putting the American people back to work ... is the moral and national challenge of our time It is too important for pure partisanship or blind ideology. -- Barack Obama

To paraphrase my friend, Deval Patrick, the last election was a changing of the guard -– now we've got to guard the change. -- Barack Obama

Their message is: Whatever it is that Obama was for, we'll be against. We'll try to roll back health care. We'll try to roll back financial regulatory reform. And all those folks who were financing these third parties all across the country, all those special interests, they're going to be looking to be able to write the rules again, if these folks are back in power. -- Barack Obama, on Republicans & their backers

I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead. -- Barack Obama

We have a lot of kids on the ground acting like adults and we have a lot of adults in this room acting like kids. -- Barack Obama, to his military advisors, for their petty infighting

Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God. -- Glenn Beck ...

The March on Washington changed America. Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck's march will change nothing. -- Eleanor Holmes Norton

If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know.... We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work! -- Alan Simpson, co-chair of the President's deficit commission, to the Older Women's League

A significant portion of the money that belongs in Delaware and New York and Georgia ... resides right here. -- Joe Biden, eulogizing Sen. Ted Stevens

I think Republicans are going to get the House back. -- independent prognosticator Charlie Cook, on the November elections

Maybe what he found was it was harder being George Bush than he thought. He now owns a war and an environmental disaster. -- Martha's Vineyard vacationer Karl Sternberg, on President Obama

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. -- Newt Gingrich ...

... There will be a mosque in Rome, only when a Roman Catholic church is permitted in Mecca. -- Benito Mussolini (via Ben Smith; see his notes on sourcing) Update: see Smith's further post on the Mussolini citation, which is almost certainly apocryphal

I wish we had been able to obstruct more. -- Mitch McConnell

Obstruct more? Is that even possible? -- Barack Obama

They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality. They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president. -- Robert Gibbs, on what he calls "the professional left"

Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.... Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.
-- Judge Vaughn Walker

Calling out the right wing has become a rare commodity among journalists and Democrats. All scurrilous attacks are not equal..., but appealing to racial, religious, and ethnic fears and anger is a prescription for grave danger for our country. -- Howard Dean

It's not like they've engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single, solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don't have a single idea that's different from George Bush's ideas, not one. Instead, they're betting on amnesia. -- Barack Obama, on Republicans

The idea that the average American is overtaxed is a nice piece of populist pandering. In fact, federal taxes as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest level since the Truman administration.
-- Fareed Zakaria

With all due respect -- I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about what the President's employees say about one thing or another.
-- Nancy Pelosi, on Robert Gibbs' assertion that Democrats could lose the House in November

Modern Conservatism is a disease. If you don't understand that, you're already infected. -- driftglass

The Senate sucks, and I mean it literally. It sucks the energy out of the room and it sucks the urgency out of what we do.... The lack of urgency from the Senate on these jobs bill is soul-crushing.
-- Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va)

We are dealing with extremist, obstructionist, lying hypocrites who think you don't have to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest but are holding up help for the neediest. -- Rep. Paul Hodes, on Republicans

Unfortunately ... some want Obama to fail, period. And unfortunately, Obama's failure would be the country's failure. In a way, some of them are rooting against the country. They want political power. -- -- Sen. Kent Conrad, on Republicans

Neither a borrower nor a lender be / For loan oft loses both itself and friend / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. -- Polonius, "Hamlet" by Will Shakespeare ...

... Neither a thinker nor a reader be / For thought oft loses both itself and friend / And reading dulls the edge of Fox TV. -- Sarah Palin Shakespeare, "Ham" by Sam Kennerly <twitter.com/djsamk>

Politics in D.C. have become Seinfeldesque. Fights about nothing.
-- Democratic strategist Chris Lehane

I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea. -- John Boehner

You better get down there. -- Barack Obama to Steven Chu, shortly after the Gulf oil spill

George Steinbrenner died yesterday.... Because he was smart enough to die in 2010, there is zero tax liability on the estate tax. -- former baseball player & Sen. Jim Bunning

I don’t appreciate it. I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never met him before. And he’s saying that we’re going to lose the House.
-- Nancy Pelosi, on Robert Gibbs, according to a source in the caucus

When tax money flows to the nation’s capitol, half stays there, half is wasted and half of it goes to political cronyism. -- Rand Paul (and maybe another half should go to teaching Dr. Paul 4th-grade math. Via Ben Smith)

People would walk by my booth and say ‘TARP, TARP, TARP, TARP!' But when you tried to talk to them about it, they did not know any of the details. They confused TARP and the stimulus plan. They confused TARP and the omnibus bill. They confused TARP and the president's budget. -- Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), who lost his primary race to Tea Party candidates

I thought they'd take Rush Limbaugh. -- Joe Biden, on the spy swap

This fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. -- LeBron James

The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid. -- U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ...

... Judge Tauro is attempting to hoist conservatives by their own petard, by saying: ‘You like the 10th Amendment? I’ll give you the 10th Amendment! I’ll strike down DOMA!’ -- Law Prof. Jack Balkin

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. -- Gen. James Mattis, in 2005. Mattis has been nominated to head CENTCOM

Governor Mitt Romney's hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty ... repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context. -- Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee

I ain't going anywhere. -- RNC Chair Michael Steele

If Al-Qaeda is down to one hundred men in Afghanistan, at the most, why are we fighting a major war? ... The whole enterprise is Afghanistan feels disproportionate. -- Fareed Zakaria

The Senate is the slowest moving thing since the snail. -- Rep John Dingell

We don't need a state-run media because our media outlets volunteer for the task. -- Glenn Greenwald in Salon

Like all Jews, I was probably in a Chinese restaurant.
--
Elena Kagan, in response to Sen. Lindsey Graham's question, Where were you at [sic.] on Christmas?

You light up the room. -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok), to Elena Kagan

They’re snuffing out the America that I grew up in.... There’s a political rebellion brewing, and I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since 1776. -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via Politico) AND ...

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system. -- John Boehner (CW: i.e., old needy people should pay for the war)

Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a man of war and we are all the crew.  I don't know why I thought of that. -- Sen. John Cornyn, at the Kagan hearing

Whether you're a worker, a pensioner, a small business owner, a woman, a voter, or a person who drinks water, your rights are harder to defend today than they were five years ago. -- Sen. Al Franken, commenting on the activist Roberts Court

This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy.
-- Barack Obama, on replacing Gen. McChrystal with Gen. Petreaus

I am going to maintain silence in every language known to man.
-- Gen. Dwight Eisenhower on President Truman's firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur

I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case.... I have recalled Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person. -- Robert Gates, on comments by Gen. McChrystal & his staff to Rolling Stone