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Bob Levey
Bob Levey
(Barbara Tyroler)
Levey Live Archive
Column: Bob Levey
Metro Section
Talk: Metro message boards
Live Online Transcripts

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Levey Live: Speaking Freely
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, April 11, 2003; 1 p.m. ET

"Levey Live: Speaking Freely," hosted by Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, appears every Friday. It is a live, open-agenda discussion offering washingtonpost.com users around the world the opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics of their choice with Bob.

Fearless Bob takes your questions about virtually everything, from sports and politics (there's a difference?) to world events, Metro area traffic and issues raised in Bob's columns.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Bob Levey: Hi, gang, and welcome to that weekly bon-bon without which the world cannot do: Levey Live Speaking Freely.
We welcome any and all comments and the war, the upcoming demonstrations, the weirdness of the baseball season (Is Kansas City REALLY undefeated?), the Col. Brooks murders, the Maryland political mess... whatever you like.
But first...
DID I GIVE YOU SYRACUSE?
DID I?
Right here, on this chat, two weeks ago, a clickster asked my picks for the Final Four. I replied: Syracuse, Syracuse, Syracuse and Syracuse. I trust that each and every one of you called your friendly neighborhood bookie and got down on the Orange. If you did, please send me my customary 25 percent.
Since I'm such a great prognosticator, I'll toss out this grenade.
George Bush got re-elected the day they toppled Saddam's statue.
Yes, regardless of his eventual opponent.
Comments welcome, especially those that disagree.
Let's get goin'.


Gaithersburg, Md.: How's the Great Movie Experiment coming along?

Bob Levey: I was supposed to go to California this weekend, but I bagged it. So now I have 48 whole hours with nothing to do except the dishes. I see many movies -- perhaps as many as six -- in my immediate future.


Alexandria, Va.: Thanks for the article on US Airways yesterday. It's a great company. It's the carrier of choice in our household, and has been for years.

I made sure my friends at US Airways got a copy of your article yesterday. I know many of the employees personally and they work very hard and always give their very best. They work hard and get little to no recognition for it, but they're dedicated to their jobs. Not something seen often anymore.

Bob Levey: Thanks very much. It was especially gratifying to hear from the public after that column. More than 85 percent of the reaction was as favorable to US Airways as the column was. As I wrote, this is truly a company that deserves to live.


12th Floor Metro Center, Washington, D.C.: Bob, what happened to you last Friday? You're about as reliable as Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

Bob Levey: I was in Chicago at a meeting, and at the appointed hour for Levey Live Speaking Freely, I was sitting in a cab, en route to O'Hare Airport, along that incredible parking lot called the Kennedy Expressway, trying to get to my flight so I could get home. I did the first, but barely did the second, as it turned out. Thunderstorms closed O'Hare for nearly three hours that day. I've never seen it rain so hard. I really did think I'd start seeing animals coming out of the Jetways, two by two.


Chicago, Ill.: Greetings,
Are the online transcripts ever edited to permit the interviewers to more accurately state their positions?

My question may be more for the Invisible Hand Behind the Screen than for you, but what is your view on revising comments in a forum like this?

Bob Levey: I'd be totally against revisions, except for grammar and spelling, and I can tell you that this is also the policy of the chat poohbahs at washingtonpost.com. The whole idea of these chats is to catch real comment as the real comment is being fashioned. If these sessions were revisable, they'd become like the Congressional Record: cleaned-up transcripts that are no longer real transcripts.


Washington, D.C.: Mucho kudos on your successful weight loss, Bob!
To get those last two pounds off (or off again?) how about a little more exercise, or more variety in your exercise routine?

Bob Levey: More variety is definitely the way to go. I was just discussing this yesterday with the world's greatest nutritionist, Katherine Tallmadge. For the last eight months, the issue for me has been a torn tendon in my left shoulder. It's very painful and very limiting. The docs say I can't fix it without surgery -- and this boy ain't doing surgery, sorry. Katherine suggested that I develop a program where I lift weights, but avoid my left arm. I'm going to pursue it.


Mt. Ranier, Md.: Since you won't use vanity press to publish "The Clarry," will you ever excerpt it in your column? Publish it online? Publish it as an EBook? What's your next step, Robare?

Bob Levey: My next step is to blow kisses at world's greatest agent, David Black, who ain't takin' no for an answer. He has shopped the book to additional editors. Meanwhile, Bob sits, and smiles, and hopes.


Riverdale, Md.: Mr. Levey, I was delighted to see that you have purchased a hybrid car! As the proud owner of one myself (a 2003 Honda Civic HE), I can confirm that you do indeed "feel virtuous," as you so elegantly wrote, while driving it. If I may say so myself, I feel quite superior to everyone else on the road because of my higher MPG. Sure, it's a bit cramped, and it's really uncomfortable on long trips, but it's fine for daily commuting and grocery trips. Which model did you buy? Since you're a Toyota loyalist, I assume you bought a Prius. Am I right?

Bob Levey: I didn't buy a hybrid -- at least not yet. However, our family was chosen to try out a Prius before it came on the market. We had it for a month, about 3.5 years ago. I was very impressed with it, although I was a bit daunted by the extremely short snout. It reminded me of the VW bug -- not much between you and the guy you might be about to hit. Still, to drive a Prius was much like driving any other car. It handled fine, it was comfy inside, and man oh man was it cheap to operate.
You may have thought I bought a Prius because I wrote a story for Style at the time of "our month."
Maybe if/when I sell The Clarry, I'll celebrate with a trip to the dealership. Not until.


washingtonpost.com: ViewBob's March Madness prediction.


Rockville, Md.: I remember you wrote a column recently on the U.S. Mail bins that people use for storage and such things. Recently in the library of a local state university, I saw the staff using the bins to move journals around the library. I'm guessing this isn't an approved use for them. I'm hoping someone there will see this and return the bins to the post office!

Bob Levey: For shame!
Thanks, Rockville.


An Anomaly in Mcpherson Square Park, Washington, D.C.: So I'm walking through the park the other day and there is a presumably homeless person with a shopping cart with stuff piled all over it.

And I see the owner of said shopping cart sitting on an upside down bucket behind the cart. There is an extension chord running from the cart to a U.S. Park Service outlet in the grass.

As I walk closer, the man has a keyboard on his knees and a monitor and CPU on the bottom of the shopping cart. He was working on some document.

I was extremely amazed at this site.

Bob Levey: Thanks for the observation. It's a wired world, ain't it?


Arlington, Va.: I just want to say bravo to the Metro. I got off at Foggy Bottom this morning and saw the new floor signs. Now everyone will know to "stand to the right" I think they are great and just wanted to pass that along.

Bob Levey: They are indeed great. Thanks for a cheer from the crowd.


Arlington, Va.: Hey Bob:

Can't make the chat so I'm submitting early. Liked your column today. One thing I don't get about the first neighbor complaint -- before going to the manager and you, why didn't she at least try to talk with the neighbor first? Seems to me that would be the easiest solution to try. You even mentioned that in the column. With regards to the second neighbor situation, tell the woman tired of bagging leaves that her property line goes up as well as across. Therefore, she should feel free to cut the limbs of the neighbors tree that cross her property line. No limbs -- no leaves.

Bob Levey: Some people are just too intimidated to try the talk-to-them-first route.
Thanks for the comment about cutting the limb. Absolutely right. Absolutely protected by the law.


Great Prognosticator, Oh: Will the American electorate remember the falling statue, if the economy is still in the tank two years hence?

Bob Levey: It's only 18 months, first of all. Second of all, I suspect the answer will be yes. Just a hunch, but: The American electorate is past the point of either blaming the President for economic cycles, or allowing a president to take credit for them. Bush's strengths going into the 2004 campaign are so much more solid than anything any Democratic might bring.


KCMO Native, Living in Virginia: We, the beaten down diehard Royals fans, are just enjoying this season start while it lasts.

I joke that my guys don't do things by halves; when they win, they win big and when they lose (100 games last season), they lose bigger.

Go Royals!

Bob Levey: Go, indeed!
At my fantasy league draft the other day, they HOOTED at me when I drafted half the starting lineup of the Royals.
So far, at least, the last and best hoot is my own.


Re: Syracuse: I'll have you (and everyone who laughed at me) know that I picked Syracuse in the beginning...not just when it was down to four! And yes, I am enjoying my winnings from the office pool!!

Bob Levey: Is my check in the mail?
Seriously, I didn't find this a tough call. Mr. Anthony was the real deal. Add that to the fact that this team was obviously peaking in the right way at the right time...


Baltimore, Md.: I have the perfect solution for the person who has the lovers for neighbors. I too faced this problem. After yet another night of hearing moaning and groaning above me, I yelled at the top of my lungs, "do that again, he seems to like that a whole lot."

Never heard a peep again from them.

Bob Levey: Wonderful!
Thanks


Washington, D.C.: With the delay on Metro today and the soon to be influx of tourists on Metro, I have decided not to use it anymore. Will I drive to work? No! I'm going to bicycle to work. Much more environmentally friendly than Metro!

Bob Levey: No question.
Here's one to mark down in your pocket planners, gang:
May 2 is D.C. Bike to Work Day.
Guess who will set aside his Farecard that day and brave the stupidities of downtown drivers?
Yes, me!
See you out there...


Fairfax, Va: I actually read a newspaper column that said the reason the people in Baghdad are looting is because they are so energized from being liberated, that looting offers a way to dissipate all that happy energy. Just when I think I've heard everything.

Bob Levey: You didn't read it in MY newspaper column, that's for sure. Horrible! Thanks for weighing in.


Metro Center: Thanks, Bob, for your praise of US Airways. As a frequent flier I have always enjoyed their great service. So you can imagine how pleased I was to come across one of their flight attendants when interviewing candidates to watch my infant during the day. She had accepted a multi-year furlough from the company after Sept 11. So, she kept her great US Air benefits and got to stay home with her infant, US Air is getting their great employee back, and I have a fabulous, reliable person to watch my daughter.

Bob Levey: Really great. Thank you for letting me (and us) know.


Washington, D.C.: Hey, Metroids, one suggestion. Could we have a machine doling out bus transfers on the lower platforms instead of/in addition to the one at the upper level? If I forget to get a transfer on my way down (I take the bus some days, but not every day), I often can't take the time to go back up because my train is coming, and since I ride the Blue line, it'd be a ten minute wait for the next one, so I'd only miss my bus anyway.

Bob Levey: I second the motion with as much vigor as an oldish guy can summon.
Despite my flashing brilliance, I often forget to snag a transfer on the upper level. Maybe I'm ruminating about a column. Maybe I'm daydreaming. Maybe I'm calorie-deprived. Hey, I just forget. If I go back upstairs to atone for my dumbness, I miss a train (usually). Metro could make it easy for the likes of me


Another Anomaly in Texas: Dude wearing jeans a lot nicer than mine, reclining in a lawn type chaise lounge, shaded by a large umbrella, situated at the 4-way stop of a busy thoroughfare, sipping a can of beer. Sign next to him, "Stranded, need money."

Bob Levey: His daddy's oil well must have run dry. Thanks


Election Predictions: Um... couldn't one have said the same at this point in 1991, when Bush Sr. had much higher approval ratings than current occupant of Oval Office?

Didn't Bush Sr. go down in 1992 when economy stayed in tank? What "special features" does W have that makes you think he'll buck that trend?

Bob Levey: A much better "core team" around him. A much more carefully managed public posture and image. A much more troublesome set of issues (9/11, Saddam, North Korea) than anything George 41 faced. A view of himself as good old boy from a ranch in Texas that plays much better with the public than George 41's silver-spoon background (granted, George 43 has a silver-spoon background, too).


Cambridge, Mass.: US Air -- I like them, but they won't be my number one choice while they stick to charging to go standby on earlier flights (if they let you go standby at all).

I was flying the shuttle from La Guardia to Boston last Sunday, and thanks to a fast cab ride, got to the airport in time to catch a shuttle an hour before mine. First they had to check whether I could go standby at all, then, what the fee would be ($25).

I chose to wait it out. As it turns out, the previous flight was half empty, mine was completely full. Wouldn't they have been better putting me on the earlier flight?

Bob Levey: It would sure seem that way. Thanks for an important comment


Laurel, Md.: Bike to work on May 2. What a laugh.

How many Washingtonians (except you and your chatters) GO to work on Fridays in May?

Bob Levey: Don't you mean Fridays in August?
I don't know a soul in D.C. who DOESN'T go to work on Fridays in May.


Not to burst your bubble: But didn't you predict Gore had the previous election sewn up, and Bush (or Shrub or Dubya) didn't have a chance?

Bob Levey: Shhhhhhh!
That's only one I'm trying to forget.
The other: I predicted that Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana would be president of the United States. When I bumped into him about two years ago, I told him this. He had the good grace to laugh.


Arlington, Va.: Bob -- thanks for the article today. It really brightened my dreary morning to hear about the nocturnal neighbors. I've had similar experiences, and in most cases, you're right, people just don't know how loud they are. The woman in your column should just get up the courage to ask them to quiet down.

Bob Levey: Amen and thanks for the kind words


Noisy Neighbors: If the person is too reticent to talk to them, try slipping a simple note under the door, with an oblique reference to their activities. "Could you please keep the moans and grunts of ecstasy to a dull roar" should suffice.

Bob Levey: Another take on this recurrent problem. Thanks


Alexandria, Va.: Bob, could you please theorize on why the protesters still plan their antiwar demonstration tomorrow even though they've been, as you say in the news biz, overtaken by events? Goodness. It makes it seem as if they're phonies who care only about running down their country no matter what. I'd venture that the little Iraqi children kissing American troops would beg to differ with them.

Bob Levey: One very good reason could be that the war ain't over, and ain't going to be over for many weeks. Our own generals said so this every morning on the front page of The Washington Post. So it's very timely and relevant to protest against war--as long as you're protesting against needless deaths, and not trying to undermine our soldiers. I'll say it again: the incredible disrespect for U.S. troops returning from Vietnam was one of the most sickening things I've ever seen. I watched them getting spit upon at Oakland, Calif. I'll never forget it. I sincerely hope that tomorrow's protestors can separate out their hate for war from the men and women who are waging this one.


Van Ness, Washington, D.C.: Re: Bush re-elected President
I hate to say it, but you're right. In fact, the empty suit that is the current Democratic Party had him re-elected months ago. I'm not sure what my former party stands for.

I'll keep working my Natural Law third party gig -- although Presidential voting in DC makes my vote feel a bit worthless (Did George Bush get even 10 percent in DC?)

Bob Levey: Wouldn't you hate to be a Democratic contender (pretender?) in 2004? How do you get traction against George 43? And how do you get it on global issues if you're one of the Democratic Senators who voted FOR the war? What kind of an alternative do you offer?


About US Air: I work for the federal government. A couple years ago I flew on US Air for work to a small northeastern city.

Their contract price for my flight was just over $500. The day after my tickets arrived, I though the price seemed high, so I logged onto Yahoo and found the very same seats on the very same flights for less than $150.

Bob Levey: Yeah, but you can't blame US Airways for this kind of insanity. It happens with tix on other carriers, too. Reason: They come up with seats at the last minute that will go unsold if they don't take a bare-bones buck for them. So $150 is better than nothing.


Laurel, Md.: I'm certain that since you're a big basketball fan that you watched the UConn-Tennessee final. A pretty good game from the 2 best women's basketball programs ever. Of course picking UConn at the start of the tournament is practically a no-brainer.

Diana Taurasi's the real deal ... too bad there probably won't be a WNBA anymore when she graduates.

Bob Levey: I'm afraid I was busy and didn't watch it. I'm told I missed a goodie. Thanks for writing


Rockville, Md.: My neighbor complained about my tree, too. Once day, while I was at work, he cut every single limb that was over the property line. I had a one-sided tree! It died within two years, I had a tree service remove it. He no longer lives there, and I miss my tree (and the shade).

Bob Levey: Has your neighbor's body been found yet?


Loud Neighbors: Bob, frankly I'd rather hear neighbors making love than the ones next to us fighting and him beating her, and yes we've called 911 on him.

Or our neighbors upstairs that vacuum at 11:59 p.m. on FRIDAYS.

Bob Levey: I guess I could advise you to buy a house in the country where you're 45 minutes away from your nearest neighbors, but the commute might be kind of daunting, huh?
Thanks for your comments.


Movie Pest Again ... : Bob, have a chance to watch "The Rookie" yet?

Also, I was reading an old Readers Digest this week and saw a very nice article on you. Nice to see that hard work really does pay off.

Bob Levey: Rook is on my Saturday-watch list.
If only I could have drafted him for my fantasy team!


Rockville, Md.: This quote from today's paper:

"If you'd asked me yesterday, I'd have said it was all but over," said Maj. David Greenlees, a staff officer at Marine headquarters east of Baghdad. But today it became clearer that it was not. "You rip out a statue, it doesn't mean all the bad guys are gone or changed their tune."

---------

Well, DUH! Did anybody really think that it would be that easy? Could this be what all the anti-war people have been saying? The human cost will continue to rise, and guess what? The bad guys are still going to be there, singing the same old song.

What exactly, has this bloodshed accomplished?

Bob Levey: We live in a drive-thru world, where no problem is too untidy or too large to be swept aside in 3.2 seconds. So, heck, yes, I think many Americans thought it would be that easy. As you say, it won't be. And that doesn't even raise the question of the political playout all over the Middle East.
I suppose you could argue that the bloodshed has led to Saddam's disappearance or death, to the possibility of democracy in Iraq and other Arab countries, to a resumption of trade with an important country and to greater security for Israel (although not much if it, yet).


Bus Transfers:: You know, if Metro would finally put the SmartTrip machines on buses, we wouldn't need to worry about transfers anymore!

Bob Levey: True!
Metroids?


Kapolei, Hawaii Re: Not working on Fridays...:
Here, the phenomenon is known as "Aloha Friday"... What might a good DC term for it be?

Bob Levey: "Sick Leave Friday."
We here are EXPERTS at knowing how much we've got left and when it expires. It's amazing how often dire illnesses hit on Fridays (and/or Mondays).


Alexandria, Va.: Bob, I'm hoping your re-election prediction is about as accurate as the one I made in 1999. "George W. Bush? He's what? Governor of Texas? Ha! There's no way he'd ever get elected president! I'll leave the country first."

Took me two years, but I am actually now moving out of the country. Not really because of Bush, but I am tired of seeing my civil rights trampled.

Bob Levey: Where are you going?
I hope it's not to a place that seems better, and turns out to be worse.


Complaint Department: Bob,

I hesitate to even mention this, but it's been a few days and it's still on my mind. In the US Air column (yes, it's still US Air to me, too), you proudly trumpeted its practice of branding the luggage of first class passengers and how they had never lost yours. All well and good, but that statement left me with the indelible impression that somehow, someway, it's less of a sin to lose the luggage of some poor guy back in coach. I'm sure this isn't what you intended, but I'd appreciate your thoughts.

By the way, please don't watch more than one of those great cinematic classics a day -- they are to be savored and cherished. Like fine food, they should not be gulped down.

Bob Levey: I meant no such thing about luggage in coach--in part because I fly coach 99 percent of the time myself!
As for cramming on movies this weekend, I'm afraid I have to. I won't get all ten watched by mid-May otherwise. I'm a busy guy!


About Spitting: I was stuck in traffic in Rockville today, waiting for a light to change, next to the scene of a small fender bender. Three Montgomery County Police Officers were gathered there, presumably assisting the people involved in the accident. In the course of about one minute, I saw each of them spit into the street. Gross. Why do young men do that? And police officers to boot!

Bob Levey: Maybe because they see overpaid athletes do it on TV?


Sacramento, Calif.: W's joining 41 in a well-deserved retirement. Once again, "It's the economy, stupid Bushes."

Bob Levey: I'll put an Abe Lincoln on this right now, Sacramento.
Bet?


Alexandria, Va.: My sister's neighbors complained that she WALKED too loudly. And yes, she had wall-to-wall carpeting. She also weighs about 110 pounds.

Bob Levey: Yes, indeed, some neighbors can be mighty picky.


Washington, D.C.: Bob, why oh why don't the Farecard machines take the Sacagewa dollar coin? I was trying to be an upstanding citizen by taking mass transit and getting more dollar coins into circulation to reduce our dangerous dependence on paper currency. Metro did not help. Could you shed some light on this?

Bob Levey: It would have cost huge $$$ to retrofit several thousand machines. Metro judged (rightly, in my opinion) that the Sacagawea coin was going to be such a dog that it wouldn't be worth spending the money.


Albany, N.Y.: Re: US Airways customer service. On a recent family vacation to Florida, we had a call from home about a serious illness. Although our tickets were bought cheap and of the non-refundable variety, the airline arranged to get us on the first flight out the next morning. In fact, the agent routed us through another city to get us back sooner. No fees, no hassles, no questions etc. -- I will never forget their compassion and understanding, and will always choose them when flying.

Bob Levey: See what I mean? Thanks, Albany.


Washington, D.C.: I wonder if the couple upstairs and the vacuum person are deaf? Since many Gallaudet graduates settled in the DC area, that might be why it is a good idea to learn sign language.

Bob Levey: Certainly possible.
But I'd bet that they're deaf, spelled S-E-L-F-I-S-H.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Bob,

(Just to change the subject of the war)

Your opinion please:

1. Rudy G. (former NY Mayor); saw an advertisement for his movie coming out, and also i understand he will be writing a book both have been well accepted.

2. Moose, Police Officer in Prince Georges County, was offered a movie and book deal and both were un-accepted by his peers in a very negative way, enough to make the post.

Whats the difference?

Bob Levey: Rudy is no longer on the public payroll and is no longer bound by a code of ethics that he signed. Moose is both.


Washington, D.C.: Mr. Levey,

Ok, you are a columnist.

You started off as a reporter right?

Working for whom?

How does one become a columnist?

Bob Levey: I was a reporter and editor for 15 years before I started Bob Levey's Washington in 1981. One of those years (the first) I spent at The Albuquerque (N.M.) Tribune. The next 14 I spent at The Post. I covered cops, governments, ball games, parties, features, you name it.
I became a columnist by asking to become one. The big brass thought I was suited. Really, it's no more complicated than that.
How you REMAIN columnist is perhaps more interesting--and a whole lot more challenging. I'm now up to something like 5,600 columns on deadline. I write every single day. I've never run out of ideas and never missed a deadline. So, what I'm saying is....
Coffee.
Drink lots of it.
Focuses your thinking.
Makes this madcap life possible in a way that nothing else can.


GMU Alum: Bob --

It seems I've had that "hand grenade" before, oh, about 12 years ago when GHW Bush was residing at 1600. Shortly after Desert Storm ended, our mass media prof, Roger Wilkins, asked the class whether Bush would be beaten. Only a handful of us realized that 18 months is eternity in a presidential race and that re-election wasn't a sure thing (which, as you're quite aware, it wasn't).

What's that saying about history repeating itself?

Bob Levey: I am humble enough to admit that.....
1) You make a ton of sense.
2) I've been wrong much more often than I've been right.


Crystal City, Va.: I've got an upstairs neighbor who practices the clarinet or recorder or some equally obnoxious instrument from 9 to 11 p.m. every single night. At least s/he isn't playing Frosty the Snowman repeatedly anymore. (Guess that's a December thing.)

Bob Levey: The clarinet and the recorder are obnoxious instruments? Be glad you don't have a trumpet-player next door.


A Clinical Laboratory Manager: Bobster,

While I completely agree with your assessment of the overboard day-care mom (the one who reacted so strongly to another child's blood getting on her son), the mother's concern was indeed justified. And if anything, the day-care provider should be questioned for her lax response to this situation, and also for her lack of adequate materials to clean up blood and other fluids. At a minimum, the day care should be equipped with a mixture of bleach and water (or some other strong, bacteria killing mixture) that can be used to clean hard surfaces that come into contact with blood of other bodily fluids (we know children have plenty of those).

While the mother definitely should have handled this situation with much more tact, I can't understand why you didn't point out the shortcoming of the day care provider in this situation. Of course, you assume that the child has no communicable diseases, and that a kleenex is sufficient to clean up the mess -- neither of those are 'safe' assumptions!
Just my rant for today.

Bob Levey: Good take on this. I didn't mean to say that the day care center shouldn't take every possible precaution (at least those that are financially sane). Thanks very much


Bethesda, Md.: Dear Bob --

Enjoyed your column about USAir. I, too, have had only good experiences with them.

However, I do have problems with another local business -- Chevy Chase Bank. When I worked near Farragut, the lines at their branch on 18th and M were ALWAYS (not just Fridays, not just noon) incredibly long and slow. I once faxed a complaint letter to the branch and received no answer. Granted, I should have followed up, but didn't.

Now I've received a letter from the bank informing me that I will, in essence, be penalized (charged an extra $1 a month) because I don't have direct deposit on my checking account. I work for a tiny non-profit and we don't have dir.dep. Considering Chevy Chase is already charging me $5 a month to make use of my money, I'm a bit ticked. Short of finding another bank (a hassle), do you have any suggestions?

Thank you!

Bob Levey: No suggestions, because you'll find the same insanity at every other local bank. What they're doing is to charge YOU for the privilege of handling YOUR money! My college econ professor is turning over in his grave.


Castle Shannon, Pa.: There's a petition out there to give the brave Iraqi doctor who risked his life to help save Jessica Lynch American citizenship, if he so wants it. I've signed it. What's your take on this?

Bob Levey: Raoul Wallenberg didn't seek (and never got) American citizenship, so I'd say this is a bit of a reach. I wouldn't be strongly opposed, however.


Albuquerque?!: When did you work there? We lived there from 1975-1980.

Bob Levey: 1966-67.
Believe it or not, the Trib still exists. I put it that way because it's an afternoon newspaper. Tell any American under the age of 25 that you once worked for a PM, and they'll ask you what that is. I believe only 5 or 6 are still publishing in the US


Maryland: Bob, even though I don't live in DC (nor work there), I was absolutely dumbfounded by the arrogance of US Congressmen threatening to take control of the city's traffic management because they had trouble driving to work.

Congress has an track record of causing massive problems for the city, and then blaming the city for the poor response. They have spent years subsidizing suburban and exurban residential development, all the while bloating the federal government to create a massive office park downtown. They shred the city with ugly highways and underfund public transit. Not to mention that they disincentivize city living by keeping DC residents disenfranchised.
And now they are shocked, SHOCKED by the fact that seemingly every single human being for 50 miles is in a car and the city is gridlocked. This is their fault, and they won't live up to it. What a bunch of amateurs.

Bob Levey: Like every member of Congress, they play to the troops in the third row. They got calls from their ticked-off constituents, so they decided to grandstand.
What makes me sickest is that every one of the people who called their congressmen to complain could have (and should have) ridden the Metro.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Bob,

I actually saw a metro station manager tell a person that he could not drink a soda in the metro.

Maybe they have finally heard you!

Bob Levey: Hey!
Great!
Thanks!


Silver Spring, Md.: Dr. Levey,
The story you did about the mishap at the day care center replete with the out-of-contol mommy was classic. Our society is so litigious now that a pin-prick of blood can cause a firestorm. People see so much potential in "Little Johnny" or "Little Jane" that they are willing to trample anyone in their path of their child's greatness. It almost fits in with the story about the parents with college-age children, adults really, who harass professors, order pizzas and write term papers. My parents never harassed teachers, they joined forces with them and ganged up on me! Thank heavens for that. A broken thumb go an X-ray, a splint and a notice that term papers still had to be done and trash was still to be taken to the curb from my father. What's going on with these people?

Bob Levey: They are pinheads.


Clifton, Va.: When will Congress wise up and start distributing funding for Homeland Security based on risk and perceived threat rather than on per capita as it is now. The chances of a terrorist attack in New Mexico, Arizona,
Arkansas and Oklahoma is remote to nonexistent. However, the per capita funding is putting my life at risk here in DC and NYC.

Bob Levey: This makes all the sense in the world--until it collides with the way politics are really practiced. No way a sitting member of Congress from a flyover state would ever agree to this. It would give some upstart back home a way to run against him.


Washington, D.C.: And what exactly is it about "silver spoon" backgrounds that makes someone unfit to hold office? I don't want a president I can "relate" to, I want one who can lead.

Bob Levey: I do, too. But America is always very uncomfortable with leaders who didn't have to fight and scrap and do it the hard way. FDR and Kennedy had to explain this until they were blue in the face. Truman never did.


Bob Levey: Thanks, gang, for a lively hour. We'll do it again, one week from today, same time.


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