Thursday into Friday, my head cold got worse, so on Friday morning I walked down to a bar-cafe-restaurant in my neighborhood. I had been there for a few hours when youthful, vigorous men and women wearing Business Semi-Formal started quietly going one by one among the customers sitting near me. They would crouch, adopt an expression of deep sympathy, and say something. The customer would look a little confused, pick up laptop and coat, and move to another table.
Next to me, cafe staff had made a long table by pushing three smaller tables together. Five Millennials sat around it. They were well-dressed like Ryan Seacrest is well-dressed, and they seemed nervous. The head of their table hadn’t been filled. I had assumed someone important, someone hoity-toity, would be coming, someone like a foundation executive director.
This was a little bit annoying, but my legs ached and the Internet was spotty and I wanted to go to a different, better coffee shop, so I asked for the check.
Then a man, another of the handsome ones, came by.
“Hey,” he murmured. “Will you be leaving soon?”
I said I wasn’t sure. I’d asked for the check.
“Okay,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know the president will be stopping by.”
Oh, I thought. The president of what?
“You’re welcome to stay, but one of our agents will be coming around to swipe you.”
Then I understood.
Read more. [Image: Pete Souza/White House]
Six of the ten richest counties in America are in Virginia and Maryland, clustered around the Washington, D.C., metro area. Six of the ten poorest counties in America are in Mississippi or Kentucky. These figures, from the Census, are in median household income dollars.
The concentration of wealth around D.C. is particularly striking.
“Stupider than France is not where we want to be on tax policy,” Grover Norquist says matter-of-factly in the interview above, for Atlantic Video’s Ask Washington Anything series. Norquist, who founded and runs Americans for Tax Reform and was once called “the most powerful man in America” for his influence over Republican politics, shares many quotable sound bites as he tackles a series of questions submitted by members of Reddit’s NeutralPolitics forum earlier this week.
Striving for “evenhanded, empirical discussion of political issues,” the community asked about topics like loopholes, capital gains, and Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Although he answers these questions with gusto, the Republican has his suspicions about some users’ mysterious names, asking with a raised eyebrow whether this interview might be like a scheme to fell Superman by tricking him into pronouncing a hidden word.
"What’s the most prevalent myth about fitness and nutrition that stands between us and a healthy population?" Reddit user AllLift asks Sam Kass, the head of the first lady’s Let’s Move! program, in an interview for Atlantic Video’s Ask Washington Anything series.
The 33-year-old former White House chef puts on a puzzled face and cocks his head toward the wall behind him. “So many to choose from!” he exclaims, pretending briefly to be overwhelmed before offering his thoughts on misconceptions around calorie counting and exercise. In the 20-minute video above, Kass fields questions submitted by Reddit’s 3-million-strong Fitness community, covering topics like nutrition policy, sugary beverages, and the true meaning behind the name “Let’s Move!”
In the two years before Obama became president and job losses bottomed out, young people born between the 1980s and the end of the century (a.k.a.: Millennials) were fleeing Washington, D.C. But in the next two years, the city and its surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia added more Millennials than any other city in America.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Here’s something truly surprising: During the government shutdown, residents of Washington, DC, went to bars more but spent less money.
Which, like: Shocking, right?
Read more. [Image: Daniel Lobo/Flickr]
For many furloughed federal employees in the D.C. area, the shutdown has had immediate and difficult ramifications: Without a paycheck (even if one is promised later), covering rent, groceries, and other bills can be suddenly out of reach. Unemployment claims in the District and surrounding states have increased by thousands since the shutdown began.
Many of these people are highly skilled. Conveniently, there are many startups in the D.C. area who need a highly-skilled person with a few hours on his or her hands. And it was this pairing of needs that inspired Tom Clark to create a Google spreadsheet, on which those looking for work and those looking for workers could be matched.
Last week, Clark built and released the Shutdown Work Board, which consists of one page of instructions, one page where employers can post work, and one page for workers to post their qualifications. As the front page warns, “There is NO vetting process for the types of positions/projects listed here and there is NO vetting process for the candidates seeking temporary work.” In other words: This is just a platform—from here it’s up to you.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
As if things couldn’t get any bleaker in Washington, a woman was injured near the U.S. Capitol after a car chase. Multiple witnesses heard shots, but it’s so far unclear who fired. There are also conflicting reports about the condition of the woman whom police were allegedly chasing. Some law-enforcement sources said the suspect had been shot.
As of 3:15 p.m. or so, a lockdown and shelter-in-place order at the Capitol had been lifted. According to a pool report, President Obama has been briefed on the shooting. The chief of the Capitol Police said they believe there was a child in the car with the suspect, but had no further information.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Official “Washington” is wrestling with how long the government will stay closed. But for “D.C.” and the less-well manicured suburban neighborhoods far from K Street and TV stand-up locations, life will continue regardless, as government workers try to figure out just how “essential” they are.
When I was a college intern working for free at a network-news bureau, a young brunette flush from the GOP’s 1994 wins told me over drinks on Capitol Hill, “You really have to pick one side or the other if you ever want to work in this town.” I furrowed my brow and remembered that she was from Florida; it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know that a lot of us actually came from D.C. and Maryland and Virginia. We had friends and family and godparents whose jobs depended not at all on people in power keeping their power. So long as the federal government’s lights stayed on, so would ours. The jobs may not have been exciting, but they were stable. And they allowed homes in Lanham and Cheverly and Temple Hills and places in between to be bought and kids to be raised by those who had them.
There is Washington and there is D.C., and they are two separate places divided only by a handful of miles.
Read more. [Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters]
"For all of the blacks who were bused into Washington that day, many whites who lived in the city left town. The District preemptively declared a state of emergency. On the day before the march, it ordered all liquor stores and bars to close. The Washington Senators canceled their baseball game against the Minnesota Twins. The federal government shrewdly permitted the march to take place on a weekday, to keep the size of the crowd down, and then it told government workers they could stay home from the office that day. Other businesses never opened. Local hospitals even canceled elective surgeries on the day of the march to be prepared in the event of rioting and widespread casualties.”