Wright from Washington City
April 18, 2000
Have a nice day or
By DAVID T. WRIGHT
Living in the Imperial City has its little perks. Springtime in Our Nation's Capital is a truly gorgeous time of year, with flowering azaleas, cherry trees, dogwoods, and a host of other trees and shrubs scenting the air and turning gracious upper-middle-class (read: white) neighborhoods into well-groomed, genteel riots of color. Much of the time in April and May the weather is just about perfect, with clear air, shimmering sunlight, and balmy breezes.
Of course, in Washington the wonderful spring weather turns soon enough into oppressive summer heat and humidity, with a stifling haze hanging over everything. Besides, no matter what the time of year, there are always welcome little reminders of just how little you, as a loyal subject and taxpayer, matter to the Powers That Be. One of my favorite examples is the ways officious cops, malicious meter maids, and insouciant bureaucrats conspire to oppress motorists.
High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, those PC symbols of untrammeled state power, continue to make commuting a living hell for the poor souls unable to fit the requisite number of warm bodies into their cars during the three-hour-long rush hours. Corpses don't count, or you can be sure some desperate commuters would be taking along their embalmed Aunt Ednas and Uncle Franks, strapped to their roof racks like surfboards. A friend tells me that a while back they caught one person using a giant Bart Simpson doll as a decoy passenger.
Recent research in Phoenix, Arizona, and elsewhere has found that HOV lanes are not efficient, that they do not move sufficient numbers of people to justify their existence, and that they contribute to pollution by causing traffic jams in the non-HOV lanes. Phoenix is getting rid of HOV lanes, but there's no sign of that happening here. To the contrary, the fact that non-HOV drivers get stuck in traffic, consuming gasoline and polluting the air with their idling engines, is considered desirable by the Traffic Nazis. That's because it encourages motorists to do the right thing and car-pool or take public transportation, thus reducing fuel consumption and pollution. If that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to you, you're obviously not an enlightened person. Shame on you.
Anyway, the Traffic and other Nazis had a field day over the weekend of April 15 when a big meeting of the International Monetary Fund came to town. The Regime was determined to prevent a replay of the recent Seattle WTO fiasco, in which thousands of scruffy neo-hippy protesters prevented Important People from getting to their Important Meetings and generally tied the city in knots. So the cops tied the city in knots by closing streets (including a section of the sacred HOV lanes) and blocking off huge areas of downtown next to the Presidential Palace. Traffic over the weekend was turned into a huge, snarled mess as the Important People glided along in their stretch limos and luxury coaches, unimpeded, for the most part, by inconvenient troublemakers expressing inconvenient ideas. The following Monday thousands of workers and business owners were told that they couldn't come to work.
So, the protesters protested, and as usual in such situations, there were some bottles thrown, some paint sprayed, and some protesters arrested. For the most part, however, the protesters were determined to stay nonviolent and the cops acted with restraint. This is, after all, Polite Totalitarianism.
Even so, the People's Police weren't above carrying out a preemptive strike or two. The local telescreen news ran a story Saturday evening about a raid on a house being used as a base by some of the demonstrators. Tipped off, of course, by an informer or undercover agent, the Vopos found all kinds of incriminating evidence: chicken wire, paint, paint thinner, and large-diameter steel pipe. The police spokesperson said that these items could all be used for nefarious purposes. The paint thinner, for example, was flammable and explosive. And the chicken wire could be used to make barricades or something. Of course, it seemed to me that the likely use for most of those items was to make those huge papier-mache street puppets American lefties copy from their wacko European brethren. As for the pipes, they're used in human chains: you join your hands inside three-foot lengths of five-inch or so diameter pipe, and the police have a devil of a time pulling you apart. I haven't heard it's a crime yet to possess any of those items. Still, they were confiscated.
The guardians of Public Order were a little less enthusiastic, however, when it came to another incident that happened the evening before.
On the Friday local news at 11 there was a story about some pro-Elian Gonzalez folks who had been demonstrating in front of the Cuban interests mission in D.C. Apparently, after the TV news cameras had left, a bunch of men armed with clubs came out of the building and physically attacked the demonstrators. One demonstrator was shown saying that the men "beat us to a pulp."
That is the only news report I have seen on the incident. There have been no follow-up reports, no reports in the newspapers, no reports on national TV nothing. It's almost as if it didn't happen. One would think it would be a major story. But no. I guess Commie diplomats beating up Americans on our own soil in our own capital city, even! is just no big deal.
One little incident summed up the whole bizarre weekend for me. I was driving north on Washington's Rock Creek Parkway on Saturday evening. The opposing lanes were completely choked with traffic going the other way, a result of the closings. Suddenly, with much howling of sirens and flashing of lights, a motorcade sped towards us using our lanes, the northbound ones, to go south, leapfrogging the stalled traffic. We proles had to pull onto the grass shoulder as the motorcade came screaming at us, causing confusion, panic, honking of horns, etc.
Bracketed by the police cars was a huge bus, its windows completely blacked out. On the destination banner above the windshield was emblazoned a reassuring message:
"Have a Nice Day!"
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