• We’re dealing with a bad case of January here in the Northeast, where we’ve got 6-12 inches of snow expected between now and tomorrow night. The Big Box has been doing brisk business selling snow shovels and rock salt.
But I also spent last week there unloading pallets of grass seed, gardening tools, seed-starter soil mix, patio furniture, barbecue grills and even pool chemicals, because while it seems impossible when you look outside, in just a few weeks people will be lining up to buy those things.
• Speaking of the Big Box, this sad story from New York hits close to home. We don’t yet know the full story there, but retail pay keeps people close to the margin — which also means close to the breaking point. And when millions of people are kept close to the breaking point, some of them are going to break.
• “I was asked if I was a Jew and I’m not, so I got the job,” Jayne Amelia Larson says of how she wound up working as a chauffeur for some of the thousands of Saudi princesses. On a typical day, Larson says, the princesses would go shopping — spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, every day:
They would clean out stores, she says, and then go the same store the following day and clean it out again. However, they never touched the money themselves.
“I never saw any Saudis handle any cash whatsoever. It was servants that paid for everything and they paid for everything with hundred dollar bills. The Saudi princesses would walk into a store, point, point, point and then leave and go into the next store and then the servants would just scurry around to pay for things and get them in bags and put them in a van at the back of the limo line.”
Related: Josh Marshall on the “Strange, Strange System,” of Saudi royal succession; Andrew Brown bluntly assesses the legacy of the most recent Saudi monarch, saying “King Abdullah embodied the wickedness of Saudi Arabia’s regime,” and Martaza Husain is even blunter, “Saudi Arabia’s Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace.”
With allies like that …
• Is our Bushes learning? Apparently not. Jeb Bush seems to think that the phrase “shock and awe” won’t remind anyone of, say, the most devastating, deadly and expensive foreign policy blunder in American history.
• Paul Bibeau went to see American Sniper, but he got distracted by the audience. Too many voices out there in the dark.
• RIP Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub. He was like the Louis Armstrong of baseball — someone whose contagious joy and irrepressible optimism was so great that it could almost make you forget how good he was at his craft.
• “Give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit.” Pamela Merritt flips the script — which is always insightful and revealing (and funny).