With National Park Service gardeners furloughed by the federal government shutdown, weeds have sprung up in the White House vegetable garden. Don’t blame the squirrels. (More)

Conservatives mocked First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday as this story, first reported by blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan, began to circulate yesterday. At Politico and other sites, angry readers wondered why the First Lady didn’t weed and harvest her own garden, like their grandmothers had in World War II. Apparently the First Family shouldn’t have a professional staff like … past residents of the White (emphasis on the color) House. Maybe they think First Lady Obama should vacuum and dust too.

The First Lady hosts an annual harvest party for D.C. area school children each October, but that was canceled due to the shutdown. White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses usually hosts a weekly weeding party, but he’s on furlough along with most of the White House and other government staffers who volunteer to help.

My cousins in D.C. tried to take up the slack, Kohan writes:

Right now, the many squirrels who live at the White House seem to have gotten even more aggressive with the low level of human intervention. The squirrels are always a problem in the garden, eating the berry crop in the summer months. But they’re now kids in a candy store, gorging themselves.

The bushy-tailed residents are feasting on the ripe Sungolds on the vines, as well as on other tomatoes and peppers littering the ground, as are the many birds who call the White House home (look closely at the papaya tree photo above, and there’s a squirrel at the bottom).

Of course that prompted sneers from conservative readers who said squirrels wouldn’t even live in D.C. except for all the handouts they get from tourists. Fact is, the District’s famous black squirrels arrived as a gift from Canada in 1902, and my grey cousins lived there long before humans arrived. But I guess since they don’t lobby or give press conferences or warn House Republicans not to vote to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without crippling the Affordable Care Act … conservatives don’t see my cousins as real D.C. residents.

Not all the weeds are in the White House vegetable garden, as Business Insider’s Josh Barro wrote last night:

House Republican leaders canceled plans to call a vote Tuesday evening on a Republican plan to raise the debt limit and reopen the government. They couldn’t round up enough Republican votes to pass it.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is stunned, for some reason.

In fact, this is the least stunning event ever. The bill would have raised the debt ceiling. It would have changed Obamacare, Republicans’ white whale, in only the most trivial ways. The powerful conservative pressure group Heritage Action opposed it. Of course Speaker John Boehner couldn’t get the votes.

The only stunning thing is that anyone still looks at House Republicans and says: “You know what would be great? Giving these people more power over public policy.”

Americans need to follow the lead of voters in South Blogistan. Yesterday they elected Amanda Murphy to represent them in Florida House District 36. Murphy is the first Democrat elected to the Florida Legislature from Pasco County since the 1990s. Her Republican opponent outspent her by 2:1, but she had the support of well-organized grassroots Democratic activists from across the state and they pushed voter turnout – projected at about 13% for an off-year special election – up to almost 20%.

If voters across the country do the same next year, they can pull some of the weeds out of the U.S. House. In the meantime, we squirrels will do what we can to keep the White House vegetable garden neat and tidy.

Good day and good nuts.