Ringside Seat: A Plague of Slush

And lo, did the heavens open and pour down from above a wave of crystalline horror, and the people of the city did wail and moan and rend their garments in fear. Pillars of salt were spread on the byways to make them navigable by donkey and SUV alike, yet the people still cowered within their huts, Instagramming pictures of the newly alabaster land and spreading word through Twitter, with a million voices shouting, "Behold!" And parents did set their children in front of glowing boxes to quiet the incessant cries of boredom, and Madagascar 3 did unspool, and unspool again.

And many looked skyward and cried, "Will this nightmare never end? Will we all die in frozen graves, our bones picked clean by the yeti and the saber-toothed tiger?" No answer came from above, but amidst the chaos, a child did emerge, and said unto the people, "It's snowing, you ninnies. That's what happens in winter. Get over it." And the people woke from their trance, gazed upon the ground, and saw that it was slushy. Then everyone went back to work on Thursday and wondered what the big deal was, and whether it had really been necessary to body-check that old lady at the Safeway in order to grab the last carton of eggs.

That's pretty much what happened in Washington today after a forecasted blizzard that shut down the federal government never materialized. Meanwhile, the sequester goes on, though House Republicans did manage to pass a continuing resolution that will allow the government to stay open past the end of the month. It's not a done deal yet (both Houses will have to pass the same version), but maybe a little snow brought a new spirit of hope and cooperation to the nation's capital. Probably not, though.


So They Say

“Oh, I haven’t changed anything,” Grassley told Iowa reporters on his weekly conference call this morning. “I think they’re referring to some interview I gave, oh, FeedStuff or BuzzStuff or something like that. ... Just wait a minute and I’ll say something very theatrical very soon, so they’ll be wrong.”

Chuck Grassley, everyone's favorite tweeter

Daily Meme: Smalltalkquester

  • Obama is meeting up with 11 Republican lawmakers tonight at the Jefferson Hotel, hoping they can figure a way out of this mess over a few steaks and small talk. 
  • This "charm offensive," if you couldn't tell from how rarely it's happened in the past four years, pains the president more than a dentist appointment soundtracked by Donald Trump's dulcet tones.
  • But the dinner can't be all sausage makin' and sequester talk. Obama better bring some ice-breakers if his experiment in the art of Beltway socializing is going to be a success. We have some ideas if he'd rather prep for tonight by singing "I Knew You Were Trouble" in the shower. 
  • First of all, that always dependable standby, the weather! Although between the fact that today's inclement skies were dubbed "snowquester," and turned out to be underwhelming, to say the least, perhaps this isn't the safest conversational route.
  • How about drones? Everyone's talking about drones these days! Oh, hmm, yeah, that's a bad idea, given Obama's track record on drones ...
  • ... and with his luck, Rand Paul would show up to filibuster the budget discussion if the subject was brought up.
  • John McCain will be there, so any discussion of elections or how awesome the White House is probably best left off-limits.
  • They could make a Harlem Shake video, project solidarity and fun and what not ... oh God, Mitch McConnell already made one and it's horrendous. Let's pretend we never mentioned this.
  • Hmm, this is harder than we thought. Maybe they can declare whether they're on team Jennifer or team Anne
  • Game of Thrones and Mad Men are coming back soon, that's pretty neutral ground,oh, wait, nope
  • No wonder Obama hates this crap—it's way harder than it looks! Well, best of luck, and hopefully he comes up with safe dinner conversation that segues nicely into sequester talk better than we can. 

What We're Writing

  • Matt Duss writes that we need to be a bit more nuanced with foreign policy when it comes to Israel. 
  • Jonathan Bernstein thinks Republicans need to do the right type of infighting if they want to succeed.

What We're Reading

  • Senator Chris Murphy is "so sad" that Chuck Grassley's tweets are less History Channel, more policy now.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand sat down with Buzzfeed last night and reaffirmed her goal of making sure women are a priority electorally and policy-wise in government.
  • Jon Lee Anderson looks back on Hugo Chavez's legacy.
  • Alex Seitz-Wald reports that—get excited—there are more crazy Tea Partiers than ever.
  • Jeff Madrick writes that "the real danger of the sequester lies in the misguided deficit-cutting mania that created it in the first place."

Poll of the Day

With Pope Benedict XVI now in his seventh day of retirement, Catholics in the U.S. are hoping for a younger, more liberal replacement according to a new poll from CBS and The New York Times. This could reflect the fact that the majority of American Catholics feel the Church is out of touch.Cardinals agree the new pope should be young (or at least, younger) but they're also prioritizing language and administrative skills. Maybe that explains why the search is still ongoing.