The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 29

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

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.

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.

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South Carolina

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NBC News projects that South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley will win the gubernatorial race. The State story here.

NBC News projects Republican Sen. Jim DeMint will win re-election to the South Carolina Senate seat. 7:02 pm ET. The State report here.

WCSC-TV, Charleston, October 21: some Republicans want sworn assurances from their gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley that she's not a philandering tax cheat.

Hey, South Carolina, there is a sensible Senate candidate you can vote for in November: Green party candidate Tom Clements:

... Here is activist Tom Turnipseed on Clements. See what you think.

Oh, What Next? AP: "Police say longshot Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene was kicked out of a South Carolina restaurant after his companion got into a fight with people eating there." A woman with Greene apparently got into an argument with Oconee County Democratic Party officials. The police asked Greene & the companson to leave but did not arrest anyone.

The State via the AP: "South Carolina Democrats called on Alvin Greene to end his bid for U.S. Senate after his legal troubles got more serious Friday, but there is not much hope among party leaders that Greene will abandon his long-shot campaign."

Washington Post, August 13: "Longshot Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene was indicted Friday on two charges, including a felony charge of showing pornography to a teenage student in a South Carolina college computer lab."

AP: "Surprise U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene frequently mentions his 13 years of military service, but records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press show that the veteran who has called himself an 'American hero' was considered a lackluster service member at best." ...

... On the other hand, he has the best damned campaign video in South Carolina:

Lawrence O'Donnell thinks Alvin Greene sounds like a better candidate than his opponent Sen. Jim DeMint:

Katharine O. Seelye of the New York Times profiles Alvin Greene. He is upset that the Army didn't promote him but the did make Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood mass murderer, a major.

The State, July 10: "Alvin Greene, the obscure jobless man whose come-from-nowhere victory in the June Democratic primary for U.S. Senate created a national furor, had legitimate sources of income to pay his $10,400 primary entry fee, law enforcement sources said Friday."

Thinking out of the Box. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian profiles Alvin Greene & reveals part of Greene's "big idea" jobs creation plan:

Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That's something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It's not something a typical person would bring up. That's something that could happen, that makes sense. It's not a joke. -- Alvin Greene

Jeffrey Collins & Meg Kinnard of the AP, July 6, find some conflicting characterizations of the mysterious Alvin Greene.

The State, June 28: "SLED and the 5th Circuit solicitor’s office are investigating the finances of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene to see whether any laws have been broken in the way he has been representing his financial situation to the state court system. SLED will use a new state law that allows the agency to issue an administrative subpoena to financial institutions...."

AP, June 22: "In a clear sign of racial progress in the South, Republicans overwhelmingly chose Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman, to run for governor in South Carolina and nominated Tim Scott, who would be the Confederate state's first black congressman in more than a century."

AP, June 22: "State Rep. Tim Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, an attorney who is son of the one-time segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond. Scott, who won the runoff with 69 percent of the vote, is now poised to become the nation's first black GOP congressman since 2003."

USA Today, June 22: "Prosecutor Trey Gowdy has just made six-term incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis the fifth congressional incumbent to fall prey to this year's anti-incumbent tide."

AP on the primary runoff.

Bloomberg News on Republican Rep. Bob Inglis' fight to keep his seat.

Michael Scherer of Time tries, but fails, to shed light on Alvin Greene's mysterious "involuntary" military discharges.

The State, June 21: turnout for Tuesday's primary runoffs is expected to be low.

Washington Post, June 21: "the political smear tactics that this state made famous don't seem to be working this time around."

CNN Political Ticker: an engineering firm paid Nikki Haley to give them insider information & "access" while she was in the state legislature.

CW: this is so predictable, I predicted it. Will Folks, the guy who presented evidence that he at least had "a close personal relationship: with Nikki Haley, has endorsed her candidacy for governor.

I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in South Carolina. And I am also the best person to be Time magazine's Man of the Year. -- Alvin Greene

CNN: Meanwhile, "as Democrats in South Carolina face the uncomfortable prospect of having unemployed political novice Alvin Greene as their Senate nominee in November, some in the party have launched an effort to put a more polished candidate on the ballot as an independent."

June 17: Michael Scherer of Time visits Alvin Greene at home.

WLTX-TV, Columbia: "The South Carolina Democratic Party's Executive Committee Thursday rejected a protest of the June 8 primary for U.S. Senate, in which Alvin Greene defeated Vic Rawl.... The committee felt there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the results, a move which, had it been approved, would have required a new primary."

The State, June 15: "The executive committee of the S.C. Democratic Party will meet Thursday to consider a protest Vic Rawl filed Monday after his surprise thrashing at the hands of a political unknown who is facing a felony obscenity charge."

I saved the money from the Army. Army, Army, Army, Army money. My personal Army money.... Can I get paid for this interview?
-- Alvin Greene, on the source of his $10,400 filing fee payment

Washington Post: speculation abounds as to how Alvin Greene won the primary race, but most agree there was more than one factor that led to his victory.

Low-grade fraud and back-stabbing is well within the standard deviation of the mean in South Carolina politics.
-- Prof. Scott Huffmon

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones, June 14: Alvin Greene expects the Democratic party to fully support him, but he hung up on Khimm when she asked him about Vic Rawl's election challenge.

New York Daily News: "Vic Rawl, a former state Representative, filed a formal protest on Monday contesting the shocking primary 'win' of Alvin Greene.

"Elephant Dung"

I saw the patterns in this. I know a Democratic pattern and I know a Republican pattern, and I saw in the Democratic primary elephant dung all over the place. So I knew something was wrong in that primary. -- Rep. James Clyburn on the vote for Alvin Greene

CQ Politics: "White House adviser David Axelrod suggested Sunday that South Carolina Senate candidate Alvin Greene (D) was not a credible choice and gave a thinly veiled call for the nominee to withdraw."

Here are some words of hope for Alvin Greene from another Al Greene -- "Everything's Gonna Be All Right":

Fox "News": Judge Vic Rawl, the heavily-favored Democratic candidate for Senate, who lost to political unknown Alvin Greene, calls for an official investigation into election results "oddities."

CW: also see my blogpost on the Mysterious Green Plant Discovered in South Carolina.

Shep Smith of Fox "News" interviews the alleged victim, 19-year-old Camille McCoy, & her mother in the pending felony case against Alvin Greene:

The State: the South Carolina Democratic party, after urging Alvin Greene to drop out of the race, certified him as the party's official candidate Friday. The story contains other developments in this act of "South Carolina's theater of the politically absurd. CW: I think we're going to have to give Mr. Greene his own page.

Ravi Somaiya of Newsweek: "Jon Krosnick, a Stanford professor who is a leading expert on the psychology of political behavior, believes sabotage is the most likely explanation for Alvin Greene's win. ...

The State posts this fascinating interview of Alvin Greene. In it, Greene says he received an honorable dischange from the military but his separation was "involuntary":

... Oh, wait. He left both the Army AND the Air Force involuntarily, tho he was the recipient of several service medals. ...

... Keith Olbermann looks into the South Carolina Democratic primary for U.S. Senate & talks to winner Alvin Greene:

... Also, Frances Martel of Mediaite comments on Alvin Greene's interviews.

Alvin Greene. South Carolina Democratic party photo.

Sean Miller of The Hill: "Less than 24 hours after Alvin Greene’s surprise win in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the state party has asked him to withdraw from the race because of a pending felony charge."

Michael O'Brien of The Hill: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for in [sic.] South Carolina to investigate the circumstances that led to Alvin Greene winning the Democratic Senate primary in his state earlier this week. 'There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary,' Clyburn said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show. 'I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant.'"

While No One Was Looking. AP: "An unemployed military veteran has stunned South Carolina Democratic Party leaders by winning the nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. Thirty-two-year-old Alvin Greene of Manning defeated 64-year-old Vic Rawl of Charleston in Tuesday's primary. Rawl is a former judge and legislator, who had about $186,000 cash available and had already scheduled a fundraising event for Thursday." Or as Gawker puts it, "Alvin Green [sic.]: An inspiration to random unemployed dudes everywhere." (CW: forgive the misspelling. Who could know?)

... Mother Jones: Who Is Alvin Greene? Some are suggesting he might be a Republican plant! CW: which sounds possible -- see if you don't think he has something in common with Sarah Palin. Asked if his win surprised him, Greene said,

I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much. I knew I was on top of my campaign, and just stayed on top of everything, I just — I wasn't surprised that much, just a little. I knew that I worked hard and did.

... Oh, dear. AP: "South Carolina's surprise Democratic nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is facing a pending felony charge. Court records show 32-year-old Alvin Greene was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student. The felony charge carries up to five years in prison."

     ... Update: Sean Miller of The Hill: "Less than 24 hours after Alvin Greene’s surprise win in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the state party has asked him to withdraw from the race because of a pending felony charge." 

     ... AND Update 2: Michael O'Brien of The Hill: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for in [sic.] South Carolina to investigate the circumstances that led to Alvin Greene winning the Democratic Senate primary in his state earlier this week. 'There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary,' Clyburn said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show. 'I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant.'"

AP: "On the busiest night of the primary year, tea party activists flexed their muscle in South Carolina, pushing state Rep. Nikki Haley ahead of three rivals in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Shy of a majority, she will face Rep. Gresham Barrett in a June 22 runoff."

CW: to South Carolina Republican Sen. Jake Knotts, racial epithets still count as "humor," but -- under pressure from fellow Republicans -- he makes a half-apology for his comment about Nikki Haley & President Obama: "I apologize. I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.” CW: sorry, I'm have trouble figuring out how using a racial epithet is "unintended."

AP: Larry Merchant, "a South Carolina lobbyist resigned from a rival political campaign [of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer] on Wednesday and then became the second man to claim he had a tryst with [state Rep. Nikki Haley] Republican lawmaker trying to become the state's first female governor.... Marchant admitted he had no proof to back up his allegation of a one-night stand with...Haley in 2008 and her campaign vehemently denied the allegation." ...

... CW: here was backstory I missed from the Charleston Post & Courier: "Republican gubernatorial hopeful Andre Bauer said today he has asked for and received the resignation of a political consultant for “inappropriate conduct” but would say little more." In other words, Bauer "took the high ground" (hah!) even as he arranged for Merchant to "confess" to his alleged affair withHaley.

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley counters blogger's assertion he had an affair with her in this campaign ad (& the cynical Constant Weader still thinks there's a good possibility blogger Will Folks' charges were a smokescreen to get Haley more, ah, exposure):

Charleston Post & Courier: Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has refused to release her phone & e-mail records for the period a blogger claims to have had an affair with her. "Haley has made transparency in government one of the foundations of her campaign."

South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley meets the press. She can field rapid-fire, pointed questions & answer in complete, coherent sentences, unlike her famous endorser Sarah Palin. CW: this "scandal" might be one big publicity stunt to get Haley name recognition. If Folks suddenly admits he was lying about two days before the primary, you can be sure that's what the deal was:

Charleston, South Carolina Post & Courier: "In 2007, the year political blogger Will Folks claims he had an affair with state Rep. Nikki Haley, the two spoke by phone at least 600 times. Some of those calls came late at night, lasted for hours -- and one did not end until nearly 5 a.m. At the time, Folks was a part-time consultant for Haley."

John Cook of Yahoo News, May 27: "Another day, another titillating tidbit in the kiss-and-blog saga enveloping South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial primary.  Will Folks, the conservative blogger and political operative who claims he had an affair with GOP candidate Nikki Haley, says: There are pictures!" Here's the FitsNews post Cook refers to.

Talking Points Memo: "South Carolina blogger and political consultant Will Folks has released a series of what he claims are text messages between himself, an AP reporter, another GOP political operative, and the campaign manager for gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley -- with whom Folks claims he had an inappropriate physical relationship." Here's the FitsNews blogpost....

WIS-TV: Will Folks, "the blogger who rocked the state's political scene Monday by claiming to have had an 'inappropriate physical relationship' with gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley says he was pressured to disclose the affair by the campaign of fellow candidate Gresham Barrett." ...

... Meanwhile, some other person writing on Folks' site claims there is "a flood of phone records, text messages, emails, voicemails and other data exchanges between the two protagonists" -- CW: which we readers are meant to infer prove the relationship with Folks & Haley was "inappropriate." ...

... The State has more on the Haley-Folks story, which has thrown the race into "turmoil.

WIS-TV (Columbia, South Carolina): Will Folks, "a political blogger and former aide to Gov. Mark Sanford. claims to have had a past romantic relationship with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. Haley, who is married and has two children, 'emphatically' denied the claim Monday morning.... The Columbia Free Times has 'been investigating a story involving an alleged affair between Haley and Folks for several weeks.'" Here's Will Folks' post. The AP story focuses on Haley's denial.