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Jewish World Review March 21, 2003 / 17 Adar II, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Traffic Wars | Well, the war is on and that means one thing here in Washington: we're all going to be spending more time in traffic.

You see, the anti-war protesters were out first thing Thursday morning attempting to block bridge access into the city. Their goal was to tie up traffic and turn a 45-minute commute into one that takes a couple of hours.

There is a long history of folks attempting to tie up traffic to call attention to whatever their cause is. Truckers do this from time to time. To protest federal fuel taxes or some other thing that annoys them, they get several big rigs on the roadways at once, then block the access points. Their tactics are always effective.

But the truth is it doesn't take much to tie up traffic in this town.

A few years back there was a fellow who was threatening to jump off a beltway bridge. While compassionate public servants spent hours attempting to talk the fellow down, the beltway became bottlenecked for several miles.

Sure, they eventually succeeded in getting the fellow down, but there were a lot of drivers here who would have liked to get at him. There is still some suspicion that the whole thing was a conspiracy staged by the Department of Transportation to promote usage of the high occupancy vehicle lanes.

Last autumn, I got caught up in one of several traffic jams caused by the Washington snipers, two fellows who were protesting life itself. Well, no sooner did those fellows strike than the police had the roads blocked off all over the place. People sat in traffic for hours, though nobody much minded in that instance.

But if you really want to tie up traffic here, just ask old Dwight Watson, the distraught North Carolina tobacco farmer who drove his John Deere tractor into a pond last week to protest farm issues.

Old Dwight claimed to have explosives in his tractor, but, even though nobody believed him, he was able cause major congestion for three days. The Park Police, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shut down buildings and closed off roadways for several blocks.

"I will not surrender," said Dwight. "They can blow my ass out of the water. I'm ready to go to Heaven."

And there were thousands of traffic-congested commuters who were eager to send him there. But our authorities took a patient, methodical approach to resolve the situation and finally managed to get him to surrender without harm to anyone 47 hours later.

That brings us back to our angry anti-war protester friends. They figure that if they disrupt traffic, then they'll be able to make everyone else angry too and get their message out: that war is bad and that America is wrong in toppling Saddam Hussein.

Well, they're certainly succeeding at making folks angry. The fact is that everyone is on edge here in Washington, D.C. The terror alert has been raised to orange and we all know it's just a matter of time before one of the terrorist fanatics who hates us is going to get through do some serious damage.

Heck, even Gary Hart, who dropped out of the 1988 presidential race for getting caught with only one woman, said last week it's just a matter of time before the people who hate us will get hold of a nuclear bomb and blow up one of our cities.

And that is the argument the Bush people have been making all along. I saw it in Bush's eyes during his press conference a few weeks ago. He is convinced that the people who hate us are going to get a hold of nuclear bombs and that by taking out Saddam Hussein now we can put a big dent in their plans.

And whether you agree or disagree with Bush's aggressive, preemptive strategy, the fact is, my protester friends, that nobody wants to go to war. Nobody wants one person to be harmed.

The problem is that there is evil in the world, and evil is always causing governments and leaders to make difficult trade-offs. In this case, the Bush people are certain that striking now will prevent significantly more pain and suffering in the future.

Let me repeat, my protester friends: Nobody goes to war because he or she wants to. Heck, we don't want to go to work, either, but that's the breaks. The least you can do is stop plugging up the roadways so we can there.

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03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell