Secret Service Director Resigns Over Terrible Protection of the President

Julia Pierson is out as the director of the Secret Service following story after story in recent days about the agency's shocking incompetency, including the one about a man running wild through the White House with a knife. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced her predictable exit in a statement: Today, Pierson "offered her resignation, and I accepted it," he said. "I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation."

Maybe the Boston Herald Cartoonist’s Dumb Watermelon Joke Was Just a Mistake

The cartoon above ran in today’s Boston Herald. Like the vast majority of editorial cartoons, it’s pretty dumb. Unlike the vast majority, it has been widely denounced and (sort of) apologized for, on account of its boneheaded choice of toothpaste flavors.

Obviously, using watermelon as the punch line was a terrible idea. The question is whether something worse than an inadvertent slip-up is at work here. Ta-Nehisi Coates says yes, there was:

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Mitt Romney Figures Out How Secret Recordings Work

In an entertaining profile by Mark Leibovich, Mitt Romney explains the mistake he made in his infamous remarks at a fund-raiser denouncing the shiftless, hopeless 47 percent. The problem turns out to be that he was recorded without his knowledge:

“My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man,” Romney said. “If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man.”

Well, yes. That is always the mistake where hidden recordings are concerned. If he knew he were talking to the whole world, John Gotti would have described himself as a legitimate businessman, instead of ordering all those crimes.

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Secret Service Director Says White House Door Now Locks Automatically — After Guy With Knife Barreled Through It — During Congressional Grilling

Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, is very sorry a man was able to jump the White House fence and make it deep into the first floor of the president's home with a knife earlier this month. "I take full responsibility. What happened is unacceptable, and it will never happen again," she told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at a hearing today, admitting, "I do not think the security plan was properly executed." Following the incident, they at least got an automatic lock.

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What’s Happening in Hong Kong? Stunning Images From the Occupy-Inspired, Ferguson-Tinged Protests

What began as an Occupy-inspired student sit-in exploded in Hong Kong over the weekend as police responded with excessive force toward peaceful demonstrators, using tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. The Occupy Central protests spread from Hong Kong’s financial district to just outside the city’s government offices in Admiralty, but the law-enforcement crackdown had the opposite effect, sending thousands more into the streets in solidarity and shutting down portions of the city. The protests have now bled into the work week and riot police have pulled back, at least for now. Here’s what you need to know so far. 

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Tom Cotton Is Now the Perfect Republican

Tom Cotton is the state-of-the-art Republican candidate — a perfect, and possibly too-perfect, blend of biography and opportunity. Cotton studied at Harvard, came by his conservatism early and fervently, served in Iraq, won the favor of Washington party elites like Bill Kristol, and can win a Senate seat by running in a midterm election in the deep red state of Arkansas. The only thing that might trip up Cotton is his principles, which he is feverishly jettisoning.

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Governor Cuomo Is Spending the Weekend in Afghanistan

Surprise! Governor Cuomo is now in Afghanistan, where he will remain throughout the weekend as part of a State Department–sponsored delegation. Cuomo, who spent much of this week talking about his vague plans to protect New York from terrorism and taking the train in the face of an Iraqi official's flimsy-seeming claim that ISIS planned to attack the subway system, arrived in the country on Saturday, along with the governors of a few other states. According to The Wall Street Journal, he is scheduled "to receive counterterrorism briefings ... and visit with New York national guard members deployed in the region." 

Plus, the trip doesn't look un-presidential. »

Mayor De Blasio Stands by Aide, Despite Boyfriend’s Sketchy Past

On Thursday afternoon, DNAinfo reported that senior de Blasio administration aide Rachel Noerdlinger's longtime boyfriend, 36-year-old Hassaun McFarlan, has a fairly lengthy criminal record. According to records obtained by DNAinfo, McFarlan has served time in prison for drug trafficking and manslaughter. (The latter conviction was the result of a then-teenaged McFarlan shooting another boy over a jacket in 1993.) More recently, in November 2013, he was arrested for using Noerdlinger's Mercedes to "elude" a New Jersey cop who had ordered him to remain at the scene of a car accident. (He later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.) McFarlan has also posted several (since-deleted) rants about the police (or "pigs") to his Facebook page. As you can imagine, certain people are unhappy about Noerdlinger's choice of partner, especially because she regularly liaises with the NYPD in her capacity as Chirlane McCray's chief-of-staff. 

De Blasio: "You don't fire people because of something their boyfriend said." »

Chelsea Clinton’s Baby Is Here, and She Didn’t Name It Liam [Updated]

It's a big day in America! Just after midnight on Saturday, we learned of the birth of Chelsea Clinton's highly anticipated, potentially election-swinging baby. Despite Politico's suggestion that she name her firstborn Liam, Chelsea and husband Marc Mezvinsky decided to go with "Charlotte Clinton Mezvinksy," because the child is a girl and also because even the most ambitious former (and potential future!) first daughter probably doesn't take naming advice from obsessive beltway publications that seriously.

She tweeted her excitement. »

Video of the day

Charlie Rangel Opens Debate With Fake Phone Call

Congressman Joe Garcia Picks Ear, Eats It on Live TV

Sarah Palin Thinks Chelsea’s Baby May Make Hillary ‘Open Her Eyes’ About Abortion

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In The Mag

Back on the Trail

When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.

By Jason Zengerle

Reading List

Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013

The Case for Deficit Optimism

For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.

By Ezra Klein
Salon Jan. 15, 2012

The NRA's Democratic Helpers

Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.

By Steve Kornacki

From the Archives

New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010

Boehner's Army

After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009

With Friends Like These

Obama drew progressive ire from day one.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.

By Jeff Coplon