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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 25, 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: Good afternoon, all ye who toil over steaming hot keyboards. It's time for "Levey Live: Speaking Freely," our weekly clickfest devoted to the proposition that....
a) Levey can still type faster with his two index fingers than most people can with ten.
b) No subject is too great, too small, too local, too foreign, too current, too stale or too weird for us to take on.
To cases.....

Washington, D.C. -- A Bob Levey Sighting: I was in a taxi yesterday passing by The Post, when low and behold, walking right next to the car is none other than Bob Levey -- looking quite svelte I must say.

But Bob -- I noticed that the wind was wreaking havoc with your thick, longish mane -- perhaps its time for a cut?

Bob Levey: Well, I've been trying for the Kenny Rogers look--you know, a huge, flowing clump of solid gray at the back of my head. It was my way of saying, "I'm not going to go ALL the way to a ponytail at my advanced (and advancing) age, but I'm going to make some sort of a statement."
You've just made another sort.
It's time for a snip.
One is scheduled for tomorrow. At 0930 hours sharp.
To coin a phrase, you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to cut 'em...

Washington, D.C.: I love reading The Post, and at 35 cents, it a real bargain. Do you have any idea what the paper's true cost to the consumer would be without the benefit of advertisements, etc.? I'm curious. Thanks!

Bob Levey: About $2.75 per copy.

Chicago, Ill.: Greetings,
For those who don't bleed Maroon out this direction, we have community colleges. Many of the instructors are adjunct. Some of us are adjunct at more than one institution.

We call ourselves Gypsies.

We keep an eye out on the restrictions on number of hours any person can teach. We tell each other teaching methodology tips. When I stepped in the middle of a course when another instructor fell ill, one of my fellow Gypsies passed on sage advice for how to handle the mourning of the students.

We look out for each other, passing along fast food discount books or letting others know where gas is $.03 cheaper down the road or talking to a department secretary to lobby for a peer to get enough hours to make a living.

We call ourselves Gypsies not as an insult to the Romani -- we realize that in academia that is facing budget cuts and increased demand we are a tolerated group by the elite. At $1,500 per three hour weekly course per semester, I won't be getting rich. I will, however, continue to function on the edge of a glittery society keeping a profile that is low enough to avoid being seen but high enough to hold out the hope that I will be able to walk in through the front door of an ivory tower someday.

Are the Romani offended by our borrowing of their epithet? Not the ones I asked. They smile and tell me what the label implies for them. And I understand a little of where they are coming from. I use their term with respect and with the twinkle in my eye that I learned from Romani friends.

Bob Levey: This is exactly the line of reasoning I trotted out in a column this week about the phrase, "Gypsy cabs." In academia, in the taxi business, everywhere, the phrase no longer has the ethnic, slanderous sting it had when it was first used.
Thanks, Chicago.

Silver Spring, Md.: How's the movie-watching coming?

Bob Levey: Six down and four to go. My reactions are all over the lot--which is my way of saying (to all you movie lovers out there) that BOB LEVEY ACTUALLY LIKED ONE OF THE FIRST SIX! He sort-of, mostly liked another! Amazin'!
If I finish my work early today (and it looks as if I may), I may transport myself and my Kenny Rogers "do" home a little early so I can knock off Movie Number Seven: Lord of the Rings.
Full report on the ten films still scheduled for mid-May sometime.

Washington, D.C.: It says almost as much about the people in this country as it does about Sen. Santorum that there has not been more of an outrageous about his 17th century, fascist-like comments. What a joke.

Bob Levey: It's building, much the way the Lott storm built later rather than immediately. I've been all over town this week, to all sorts of gatherings, and Santorum is Topic A--in many cases, Topic Only. I'm not going to say the man is dust, but he's in serious trouble.

Silver Spring, Md: Will the Metro fare hikes be earmarked for escalator repairs? Please say they will.

Bob Levey: To some extent, sure.
But the extra dough will provide a rising tide that'll lift all boats of need (how's THAT for a phrase that needs to go back to the shed for some work?).
It'll cover salaries, security, extra cars, expansion, everything

Milan, Ind.: Bob, I enjoy your column very much but I'm going to have to call you on your statement in Wednesday's column: "Every evening for more than two years, I'd practice free throws upon it. I refused to come in to dinner until I had made 100 in a row. Miss, and I'd start over."
This year, Alan Houston led the NBA in free throw percentage at 92 percent. The odds that he would make 50 free throws in a row are less than 1.5 percent. The odds that he would make 100 free throws in a row are astonishingly low (.92 to the 100 power). Are we supposed to believe that you defied these odds every night for two years in a row? Surely, you exaggerate.

Bob Levey: Nope. A hundred a night. Night after night.
It takes a special kind of geek. My membership was paid up.

Missing You in Minnesota: Bob, you darling man, you.

Just wanted to pop in and say congratulations on the weight loss. As someone who lost sixty pounds herself the old-fashioned way, I know how hard it can be. And bravo for calling attention to the fact that there is no miracle cure of obesity.

Just moved back to the Midwest after several years in the heart of D.C., and Mr. Levey, sir, of all the things I miss, I may miss you the most.

Take care.

Bob Levey: You are the sweetest of sweetnesses!
(I'm afraid to call you that for fear that it'll add calories to both of us!)
Seriously, please know how much I appreciate your kind words. By the way, ain't it great that this here Web site keeps you connected with this newspaper and this columnist?

Washington, D.C.: Bob,
Can you least tell us which six films you've seen so far, so that we may speculate on which you've hated and which you've loved?


Bob Levey: Sure. The first six were:
My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
The Rookie.
Kissing Jessica Stein.
The Sixth Sense.
Bowling for Columbine

Heading to Chicago, Ill.: Bob ... My wife to be will be starting a master's in social work at your alma matter this fall. Do you know if the b-school provides any advantages to spouses of current Chicago grads? Also, what's life in Hyde Park like?

Bob Levey: The only advantage that spouses of UC grads get is the chance to talk at a surpassingly brilliant level, every night while folding laundry!
Hyde Park is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in America. It's a little like an English village caught inside a major American city.
It has quaint bookstores, tree-shaded streets, funky coffee houses and great (but expensive) gingerbread houses. It all depends on your own history. Some people think it's gray, dirty and dangerous. Some people think it's full of character. I think it's a treasure to find such a place six miles from the Loop. There is nothing plastic or suburban about HP. Be sure to become a regular at The Medici on 57th Street. It was the whole truth and nothing but the truth when I was a student there, and it still is.

Freethrows: Current NBA shooting percentages probably say more about the lack of attention to the fundamentals in modern basketball than they do Bob's shooting ability. 90 percent plus from the charity stripe was expected of us when I played high school ball.

Bob Levey: Exactly.
Last night, I happened to watch parts of two NBA games on TV. The only player who shot free throws correctly was Kenyon Martin of New Jersey. Several bounces to steady himself. Bend knees. Raise the ball to eye level and hold it there. Focus hard on the front rim. Roll it off your fingers.
Martin was 9-for-9.
Proof of the pudding.
I don't know what Shaquille managed to put up last night, because I haven't checked the boxes. But I shudder to guess. He shoots free throws as if he's tossing a dead fish into a trash can.

We Know You: The Rookie is the one you gave an A+!

Bob Levey: Hate to disappoint, but......
No it wasn't.

Metroids: I just want to thank the lurking metroids for a well balanced fare increase plan. No one likes higher costs, but after eight years, I think the plan we got yesterday was the best we could have expected!

Bob Levey: I agree completely. And one note, for the many Levey fans who've called and written today to ask why Metro didn't just round the basic fare up to $1.25 for simplicity's sake:
Most rail customers now buy high-value Farecards. And the machines all make change. So it isn't as if rail passengers have to hunt for two dimes or run the risk of not being allowed to ride.
The bus is another matter. I've found the $1.10 fare a bit of a pain in the carcass, because of The Perpetual Hunt for a Thin Dime. I solve this by buying tokens. Lots of tokens. They cost $1.10 apiece and they're very easy to carry and deal with.
But the revolution in bus-land (coming in June, if current plans hold) is that buses will take SmarTrip cards. That will end for all time the hunt for change, because the card will operate the same way the Farecard does. You can put huge value on it, and your fare is deducted automatically.

Castle Shannon, Pa.: People in DC are constantly griping about your Metro system. Here in Pittsburgh, there's now talk of no Sunday or Holiday service and no service after 9 p.m. to save costs. You guys don't have it so bad.

Bob Levey: And now we'll have service at 7 a.m. Saturday and until 3 a.m. on weekends. We're getting more like NYC all the time!

Alexandria, Va.: Hey Bob --

The White House also recognizes weddings.

It only took them six months to send us a nice little card, and it was postmarked from BALTIMORE!

Bob Levey: Hey!
The truth is out!
Cheney took it up there when he was on his way to that undisclosed secure location!
He did George a favor and dropped it in a mailbox!
The undisclosed secure location is Camden Yards!
Because no one ELSE is ever there, as dull and as bad as the Orioles are....

Here's another movie guess: A+ for Bowling for Columbine...?

Bob Levey: I'll never tell.

Arlington, Va.: Hope it wasn't "My Big Greek Fatuous Wedding."

Bob Levey: I'll still never tell...

Washington, D.C.: So, I love watching Major League Baseball live, but I don't want to support the Orioles because I want my own team here. Should I go up to Philly? I hear Vet's stadium is the pits.

Bob Levey: Baseball in Philly is a great treat, mostly because...
1) The Phils are an excellent team that got a lot better this past off-season.
2) Philly fans are a total trip. As the saying goes, they're cute when they're angry.
By the way, the Vet is no more. Dynamited to bits a few months ago. The Phils now play in some new stadium whose name escapes me.

Alexandria, Va.: Experiencing a bit of spring fever today ... what is your favorite place in DC in the spring -- Tidal Basin? Mall?

Bob Levey: The tulip garden that Lady Bird Johnson had planted down by the Tidal Basin. My wife and I just went past last weekend. It is SO terrific! Colorful, peaceful, a real addition to the local scene every spring.

Washington, D.C. -- But Former Chicago: ... And if you go to the Medici, check out the bathrooms. Some of the most interesting, bizarre and literate graffiti in the world.
Plus they turn out a mean burger.

Bob Levey: I'm a Medici barbecued chicken dude myself, but you're right about the bathrooms. Any bathroom where someone quotes Kierkegaard on the wall--and spells it right--is a bathroom to be reckoned with.

Washington, D.C.: What are your thoughts of the Dixie Chicks fiasco? I think she has every right to say what's on her mind. Banning their music is a huge overreaction.

Bob Levey: After a small, momentary downturn, The Chicks are turning all the publicity into huge bucks. Don't cry for them. It's always about dollar bills in the music world, and The Chicks are raking in plenty of them. Were before. Still are.
As for the First Amendment implications, that's a baby question. OF COURSE they had the right to say it. And to think it.

Charm City: Hey, the Orioles are in third place for the wild card!

Bob Levey: This is the dictionary definition of optimism.
The second dictionary definition:
Bob Levey's fantasy-league team has been at or near first place all season. He drafted six (six!) starters on the Kansas City Royals.
Of course, they'll produce all season as they have so far.
What was that?
They won't?

Oakton, Va.: I'll vote Amelie for the A+.

Bob Levey: I'll never tell......

Alexandria, Va.: It's a lot easier to make 100 free throws when you're practicing only free throws in your yard than it is in the middle of a game.

Bob Levey: Very, very true.
I made only about 80 percent during my two years of actually being on the floor.
Fatigue and pressure are very real.

Washington, D.C.: Bob, do you know what happened to the bonus when you buy a metro card worth more than $20? There was talk of eliminating it in this next fare hike, but I haven't seen a decision on that one way or the other.

Bob Levey: Still alive, as I hear it.

Herndon, Va.: Mr L: As a long-ago university (Nebraska) marching band member, let me shed a few tears for the passing of the UVA pep band. At most universities, there's a pep band for smaller events at school(and some away games) and the marching band for the big home halftime shows. I always had more fun with our pep band than the regular marching band, and, as one who knows it's the students' role to drive the administration crazy, I bid a sad adieu to UVA's pep band, and hope its members can convert the new marching band to some of their insane ways.

Bob Levey: I doubt very seriously if the pep band people can infiltrate the "regular band," even though our story said this morning that some of them are going to try.
Isn't this a sad moment for all who love madcap collegiate stunts? Next thing you know, they're going to require all the female students to wear white gloves to dinner, the way they did in the 1940s.

Baltimore, Md.: Not "The Rookie"? Hmmm ... time for some idle speculation:

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" -- possible but not likely. Innocent fun but not really that good of a movie.
"Kissing Jessica Stein" -- perhaps the urbane comedy struck a chord? A definite dark horse.
"Amelie" -- Similar to Greek Wedding but French and not as good.
"The Sixth Sense" -- Could he fall for the plot twist? Nope.
"Bowling for Columbine" -- Had it's moments, but probably teed you off too much.

Bob Levey: I'll never tell.......

Not Sure If This Is Up Your Alley, But ... : What happens to all of the "playing card" people the U.S. collects? Do we ship them all to Cuba for the rest of their lives? For that matter, what is going to happen to the 1,000 plus people already being held on our base in Cuba?

There have been no charges, no hearings, no trials, no record of who is even in custody. Can they be held indefinitely forever and more importantly, can some other country ever do this to a U.S. citizen -- just hold them with no reasons/charges ever provided?

Bob Levey: The answer would normally lie with the World Court. But since our invasion of Iraq technically violated international law, I'm not sure the World Court's rules would apply.

Kingstowne, Va.: Bob, part of making Metro more attractive must be making driving less and less convenient. While congestion has certainly made driving less convenient, hiking Metro fares won't do much to make driving more costly than taking the train. Indeed, one city (Los Angeles) even experimented with making transit FREE to the public to encourage ridership. They found that usage did not increase substantially. If someone lives in my area, they must now pay $3 to park at Franconia-Springfield and $7.20 for a round-trip daily commute to DC. That $10.20 is more than the $8 at the garage in my building. How is this supposed to make me more likely to take Metro?

Bob Levey: The basic strategy always was and still is to offer you reliable service. Driving can take 45 minutes, or it can take twice that (if an 18-wheeler decides to jackknife). Metro is still very cheap at the price, and it gets you there in one piece, on time, 99.99 percent of the time. What Metro is banking on is that you will ask yourself: "Why drive when I hate it, when it stresses me out, when it costs me big money for insurance and parking, and when it doesn't guarantee me either an on-time arrival or a safe journey?" To me, this is the no-brainer of all no-brainers.

Somewhere, USA: I like you, Mr. Levey. I really do, but why, in almost every chat, do you talk about trivial matters?

We've had a war that may have been unnecessary, a wrecked economy, people homeless, hungry and jobless, and a deficit as far as the eye can see.

Do you ever talk about serious issues?

Bob Levey: All the time.
I just did about three questions previously.
But life comes in all sizes and all hues, my friend. One man's "trivial" is another's top-of-mind.
War is very serious, for sure. But it isn't the only story on my mind, and I'd honestly be surprised if it were the only story on yours.

KC Starters: Great minds think alike, Bob. My fantasy team is doing well mainly because of Runelvys Hernandez of KC. Who knew?!

Bob Levey: Runelvys is in the building!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dixie Chicks: Of course the Chicks had the right to say whatever they wish. And I have the right not to buy their music for any reason I want. And radio stations have the right not to play their music for any reason they want.

Bob Levey: All true. The First Amendment does not guarantee an entertainer the right to make a living if she doesn't appeal to certain fans.

Wheaton, Md.: Nice going, Metroids. Fare hikes will send more people back into their cars, causing a ridership drop, and an ultimately flat level of revenue. Well done!

Bob Levey: See previous answer. I doubt very seriously if a ten-cent increase will "move" anyone's transit decisions.

Oakton, Va.: Kingstown is missing the intangibles. Last I heard, the costs to run a car are $.36+ plus/mile. Plus the car insurance will go down if the car isn't used for commuting.

Bob Levey: Plus the cost of the thing in the first place!
The Leveys had a weak moment this week. We actually met, en famille, and discussed whether to get a fresh (perhaps even a new) car.
Papa Bear pointed out that the Zero Percent Financing craze was again abroad in the land, and this might be a good time.
Then we crunched the numbers.
They crunched back.
A "simple" Toyota Camry with no bells and whistles would cost north of $23,000.
If we financed that across five years, that would be about $5,000 a year (once you add in all the taxes and stuff).
That's more than $400 a month!
Way, way more than we can do.
We'll keep the '92 Toyota on the road for a while longer, thank you. Even though it's clanking, hurting, moaning and ailing.

Washington, D.C.: Bob's Favorite?
My money's on "Billy Eliot!"

Bob Levey: Haven't seen that one yet. I hope to get to it this weekend.

Alexandria, Va.: I heard recently that the Caps owners were bemoaning the fact that not enough people came to the playoff games.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why: ticket prices. I looked into going to a regular season game. Non-nosebleed tickets would have cost us just over $100 EACH, after factoring in that nasty Ticketmaster charge. I don't think so. I travel regularly to England to watch Premier League football (soccer) matches. The team I support is one of the best teams in the world, and their ticket prices are 30% or less of the Caps tickets. One time, after getting a great flight, I only spent $250 in total going to see a match, INCLUDING my flight. It would cost my wife and I that much to see a Caps game and have a hot dog and beer.

Bob Levey: I hate to reopen this can of slithery, aging worms, but........
The problem is that hockey just isn't very interesting.
They skate for a while.
Then they stand around for a while.
Then they have their 43rd faceoff.
Then two goons fight.
Then someone scores--but it happens so fast you can't see it.
Then everyone goes home.
Sorry, I'll take the excitement of an NBA playoff game any time. Did any of you see the second half of Milwaukee--New Jersey last night? TREMENDOUS!

Medici Bound: Bob,

Thanks for the feedback and the tips on HP. I truly love DC and will miss it greatly, but at least I know that Chicago will be "my kind of town." Have a nice weekend and good luck getting you ears lowered tomorrow.

Bob Levey: Many thanks.
Best way I can say it:
I truly, unconditionally love only two cities in the U.S. I'm sitting in one of them. And you're sitting in the other.

Huh?: The war "technically violated international law?"

And "the World Court may not imply?"

Does that the mean the United States can now violate international law with impugnity?

Bob Levey: This is precisely what the French asked when Bush and Company said they'd ignore the U.N. (and our longtime allies) and plunge straight ahead. Same question is being asked on the Hill, too. Do we just go charging into any situation, pre-emptively, simply because we don't like its looks? Is that our new foreign policy? Is that going to be our foreign policy despite the fact that it violates international law?
Stay tuned for the 2004 campaign, boys and girls. It's going to be the barnburner of our lifetimes.

Way Out in Virginia: I recently saw a license plate that said


Why is it that the DMV allows for such things?

Bob Levey: That one's positively tame compared to some that slip by

Boycott the Orioles, EXCEPT ... : Hi Bob,

I'm all for boycotting the O's -- I even stopped shouting out "O" during the singing of our National Anthem. BUT, in June my beloved Cubs will be in Baltimore for three games. PLEASE tell me that it is all right for me to go.

Bob Levey: I wouldn't miss those three for all the tea dumped into Boston Harbor.
You have my permission to go

Baltimore Postmark: I work on the Hill and unless we ask the post office clerk to hand cancel the stamp, it goes out post marked "Baltimore." I think it has to do with Brentwood being closed, so now all federal mail is sent from Baltimore.

Bob Levey: This is a rank coverup by Cheney's people......

Arlington, Va.: Bob,

How could a basketball playoff game beat hockey? (Though I agree ticket prices for both sports are criminal.)

Basketball: Guys jog slowly down court
Ball is always passed to one of 2 big men, who shoot
Game stops every 10 seconds for foul shots
Game remains stopped during foul shots
Most players are stoned anyway and don't notice any of this
Last 2 minutes of NBA games take approximately 4 days to complete

Bob Levey: Here's what I'll give you under the Reasons to Hate Pro Basketball heading:
1) Players bitch at referees far too much.
2) Players don't listen to their coaches.
3) Players walk all the time and it's never called.
4) Players sometimes "phone in" the first three quarters.
5) Star players get different treatment from the refs than scrubs do.
But, oh, my, the TALENT of these people, when they really turn it on. Go find the follow-slam that Aaron Williams of New Jersey delivered in the fourth quarter last night. Amazing! Go find the intensity that Sam Cassell of Milwaukee displayed last night. Terrific!
Besides, I don't think more than half of them were stoned.....

Stay Tuned for the 2004 Campaign, Boys and Girls: Especially now that the Bushies have admitted they might have "exaggerated" about WMDs. Hum, where I come from it is called A LIE!!!

Bob Levey: This is the great sleeping time bomb......

About Santorum: Hey, at least he has the backing of the Catholic Church because his politics correspond to his religious beliefs. I wonder when the Church will connect the dots between actions and religious beliefs, especially considering the problems they have had with their clergy abusing and taking advantage of people in their charge. What a crock.

Bob Levey: To suggest that all Catholics have a lock on rectitude--or that all Catholics believe as Santorum does--is a joke.

Washington, D.C.: CULTLDR? I don't get it...

Bob Levey: Cult Leader

Stop Guessing, People!: He said he'll never tell ... until he does the column about it. So, give it up, already.
(Of course, we all know it's NOT Kissing Jessica Stein.)
Too bad you're watching the Lord of the Rings at home -- that movie absolutely was made for the big screen, the bigger the better.

Bob Levey: As I wrote when I kicked off this grand movie experiment, the only thing worse than today's movies is having to watch them in today's movie theaters. Thanks, but I can do without roving packs of 14-year-old boys who think hurling sexual insults at female customers is funny.

CULTLDR...: ...is much better than the 50-something dude I saw with a mullet and acid-wash jean jacket in a beat-up Ford Probe whose license plate read "Sexy."

Bob Levey: Just promise me he didn't have a Kenny Rogers haircut.....

Wheaton, Md.: Hi --

The latest opinion polls show very strong support for President Bush. Some people have claimed that there's been an erosion in the civil liberties in this country since 9/11. But given the public's strong support for the president's security measures since 9/11, do you think the public would support mandatory government ID cards for every American? This would allow police to stop people, ask to see their papers, and determine if the person posed a security threat. What do you think?

Bob Levey: Not mandatory IDs, I don't think. But I've been surprised that more of a stink hasn't been raised about Ashcroft's Justice Department. It has just up and denied basic rights to hundreds of prisoners. Where are the civil libertarians on the Hill? Cats got their tongues?

Silver Spring, Md.: George Michael certainly isn't the only sportscaster to do it, but last night he read a story about a freshman from Syracuse University leaving school to try to become a professional player, and used the innocuous "make himself available" to the draft. If another student were to leave school, they'd say just that, or maybe even "drop out." The story contained praise for the player, and showed the young man saying how it was good that he got a year of "experience" rather than going directly from high school to pro ball. No mention by the "student" or George of education. Michael even went on to deliver a glowing report of a youngster who went directly from high school to the NBA and became rookie of the year. What will become of such folks over the years? Some can't even speak coherent sentences. Will sportscasters follow them over the years? Sad.

Bob Levey: The saddest part of this was a piece of Carmelo Anthony's quote. I don't have it front of me, but the gist of it was: I have nothing further to gain from staying in college.
How about an education, my man?

Arlington, Va.: Is it possible to have sympathy for the Beltway Snipers?

Although I have no doubt in the built of Malvo and Mohammed, I would like to see our judicial system live up to its highest standards in prosecuting them, given the type of scrutiny these trials will get. Sadly, it seems that law enforcement and judges are bending every rule they can to dispatch the pair to death row ASAP.

Bob Levey: Don't bet the farm that these cases will be dunks. The interviews with Malvo right after his arrest, conducted without an attorney present, could blow the case sky-high (at least his part of it).

Herndon, Va.: Mr. L: One part of the equation you're missing on the "new versus old" car question. New cars are, in general, far, FAR safer. Worst case scenario -- you hit something head on -- that new Toyota will be much more likely to protect you than your "running down" 1992.

Bob Levey: Exactly what I was arguing. Our 1992 does not have side air bags, and the new cars all do. But the DAUNTING number of bucks it would take for us to put our money where our fears are...

Still Driving a '92 Toyota: I'm with you on the car issue, Bob!
My 1992 Camry has held up extremely well; I wish I didn't have to put quite the amount of repair/maintenance money in, but it's still a lot cheaper than new car payments, or even those for two to three-year old used cars.

Since I started commuting from Maryland to Southeast instead of Crystal City, though, the wear and tear has increased substantially. Gotta love those DC streets.

I'm all for the so-called commuter tax, which won't cost us commuters any more ...

Bob Levey: A pal who drives an ambulance for Children's Hospital--and who picks up sick and injured kids all over five states--says he can always tell when he's back in DC.
Washboard City!

Alexandria, Va.: Saw a great quote from Benjamin Franklin. I'm sure I don't have it exactly right, but here's the gist:

"Any man who gives up his freedoms for security will find he has neither."

Bob Levey: A classic.

Bob Levey: Thank you, gang. Have a grand weekend. See you next Friday, same time.

© Copyright 2003 The Washington Post Company