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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, May 2, 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, fellow keyboard hammerers, and welcome to another edition of "Levey Live: Speaking Freely," where we do just that each Friday. No question is too small, too obscure or too picayune. No rant is too beside the point. No take on current events and recent Levey columns is out of line.


I thought so......

By the way, a special door prize goes to anyone who can figure out the mentality (?) of Giant Food.
First that company fires an employee who ate a 50-cent doughnut, citing policy. Then they dump the policy as soon as the winds of unfavorable publicity start blowing.
As Howard Dean has been saying about his Democratic rivals, I think Giant Food needs a backbone transplant.

Anyway, to cases....

D.C. Newcomer: Hey Bob. As someone who recently moved here, one of the things that struck me about this city is how poorly the traffic lights are timed. Someone told me this is done on purpose, to discourage speeding, but all it seems to is encourage traffic jams and road rage, without having much effect on speeding. Do you have any idea what the deal is with this? It doesn't seem like a hard problem to solve.

Bob Levey: First rule of life in D.C.: Never assume that there's any logic behind what you see. In the case of lights, they are timed along some thoroughfares and not along others. Why? Only the Shadow knows.....

Chicago, Ill. (By way of Portland, Ore.): Greetings,
Amen and amen on having service groups at rest stations. Growing up in Portland, we drove to Seattle on a regular basis up I-5, as well as south to Roseburg. All along the way on weekends (all year) and every day during the summer there was always a decent cup of Joe and cookies at every rest stop.



Your crack researcher can probably pull up specific numbers, but my recollection was that several lives per year were saved when people would have an incentive to stop for a few minutes, walk around, and maybe grab a cup of coffee or sweetened drink. Groups would sign up in advance to provide the refreshments ... and most people would leave behind a dollar or some change in the jar.

Driving from Chicago to Des Moines last month really made me miss the rest stops. I figured they don't have them out here because the highway department doesn't want to lose the potential revenue ...

Funny thing was that if memory serves the vending machines had more turnover of product when the service groups were set up. In at least one instance, the vending machine people would supply the coffee to build the business for the machines.

Save lives and make money. No wonder the Illinois Department of Transportation is opposed to it!

Bob Levey: Thanks very much for this. Chicago is referring to a comment in a column this week about service clubs that provide free coffee at rest stops along Interstate 5 in Oregon. I sampled the local goods in March when I was out there (and feeling a little nod-sy behind the wheel). Really a nice service. And the coffee was good, too.

Washington, D.C.: Bob,

I'm sure the recruiter in Thursday's column was correct in what she looks for, but I'm really hesitant to include any type of salary information in a resume.

Once they invite me in for an interview and I know they're serious, I'm perfectly willing to share that information.

But just including it when sending the resume out initially? I really don't feel comfortable doing that.

Bob Levey: I can certainly see why. I haven't looked for a job in a very, very long time, but if I ever do again, I'd say: "You make me the offer first and then we'll talk money." Sure, that would chase away some potential employers. But you have to figure that you wouldn't have wanted to work for them anyway, because they were Lowballville.

Columbus, Ohio: Firing the doughnut dipper was the right thing to do. He knew the rules. We used to have a water club in this federal office. Everyone was to chip in monthly for delivered bottled water. After a while, we had to start tracking people down for payments even though they still drank the water. After a frustrating period, the club was disbanded because it wasn't worth the effort to carry the deadbeats expense-wise. And lo and behold, they were the first to complain about no more bottled water. Sorry Johnson, age and supposed intentions mean nothing. You're out and deservedly so. Bob, don't get liberal on us with this issue.

Bob Levey: Sorry to drip doughnut crumbs on your parade, Columbus, but Johnson was rehired the next day. Obviously the suits decided that the publicity was hurting worse than the munched doughnut.
I never understand how a policy can be right on Day One and set-asideable on Day Two. I also never understand a suit who fails to consider Rule One of Life in Washington: How will it look in The Washington Post.

Alexandria, Va.: So how did the President talk the Secret Service into letting him land on an aircraft carrier? If he REALLY wants to do something courageous, he should tell them to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bob Levey: Don't be a goose. It was all about image and the 2004 campaign. If security were even a remotely serious issue, Bush would never have done it.
Bush came out of that carrier landing looking like a God. I haven't seen the overnight numbers, but I'm sure his polls spiked by at least five percent. It was a STUNT, Alexandria--but a very good one.

Metro Question: Is it appropriate to use the metro intercom to report non-emergency issues to the train conductor? The other day I boarded a car that was absolutely dead silent. After a few minutes on the train, I realized that's because the normal whir of the A/C or fan was missing. It was stifling hot and it seemed like an oversight that there was not A/C running. I was tempted to buzz the conductor and let him/her know. Since then, I've noticed 2 more times that one car will be hot and stuffy, but if you go the next car over, it's nice and cool. I know you often have Metro folks lurking on the chat, so what gives?

Bob Levey: No reason you couldn't have rung up the driver and asked what was up. I doubt that he could have done much about it right then and there, but perhaps he could have arranged for a mechanic to board somewhere down the line. I've seen that happen.

Rockville, Md.: I'm sure you've gotten a few letters already, but according to the maps, I-270 already has a name, the Eisenhower Highway. I'll wager that absolutely no one calls it by that name.

In any case, I think people like calling roads by numbers instead of hard to remember or hard to spell names. I know a number of people who refer to Rockville Pike as "355." Of course that particular road has five or six names.

Bob Levey: Many Ike fans have let me know this. Of course, I already knew it myself.
Follow-up coming soon, but in the meantime, ponder this.
1) No one knows that 270 is named for Ike.
2) The entire Interstate system is ALSO named for Ike.
Thus, I say we need a fresh name for 270 even though it's already officially named for a great president. No disrespect intended. Just a reduction in ambiguity.

Independence, Mo.: Bob:

I'm sure that the President and his staff are not taking anything for granted in the 2004 elections given the history of his father's re-election loss. Still, it seems like the Democrats are having little success even finding a way to captivate the public interest long enough to establish any debate. Who in this crowded field is most likely to find success at this, and do you see anything developing other than economic issues?

Bob Levey: Didn't Gephardt make the earth move with his stance on health care? I thought that was not only a very interesting and promising proposal, and very likely to bump up his Attention Quotient.

Washington, D.C.: That's the closest Bush has EVER been to serving in the military!

Bob Levey: You're hardly the first to point this out. At least he didn't wear an ill-fitting helmet, like Brother Dukakis.

Washington, D.C.: Now that tourist season is upon us, what is the proper way of telling people to move out of the way to let people walk down the steps. I say, "Excuse me, please stand to the right," but they all have the deer in headlights look.

Bob Levey: I wouldn't change a word of your phraseology. But you'd never have to utter a peep if serious signs were up in station mezzanines--and they were backed by announcements. Prevention equals cure.

Boston, Mass.: Hi Bob --

Re: The tirade of Mme. Tysonsland -- if she says "the job is worth what it is worth," then why is she so mad that people don't give her salary histories from the get-go so she can decide what to pay them? Frankly, she had too much attitude, even in print. Maybe she ought to remember that the people she does call for interviews are also assessing if they want to work for her.

Bob Levey: Any job dance is a negotiation. I don't live inside her head, but I suspect Mme. Tysonland was just reflecting reality. She has the job to offer. Therefore, she holds the aces, and she can write the rules.

Washington, D.C.: With all the talk week after week about "putting up signs to indicate to stand to the right on the Metro escalators" I am shocked that no one has commented on the new larger than life stickers on the Metro floor. Or is it only at my station (McPherson Sq.)?

Bob Levey: It's at most stations. It's a great start. But see previous post. These yellow stickers can and will be ignored if they are not backed up by serious enforcement, especially including P.A. announcements.

I-270 Corridor, Md.: Bob, how can you possibly argue that increasing lanes CAUSES traffic? The traffic is already there because the population of the DC area is GROWING. Hello, how could you have totally ignored this point? Instead of being an independent columnist, that piece made you sound like a shill for the anti-immigration lobby. Sad.

Bob Levey: Stop throwing rotten tomatoes for a second and listen.
The population of the metropolitan area has grown only about 5 percent since the late 1980s, when 270 was widened.
So you're absolutely wrong that population growth accounts for the daily (sometimes hourly) disasters on 270.
What HAS grown is the number of miles each motorist logs on average each year. And what sits above it all, festering, is the total unwillingness of so many thousands of people even to consider public transportation.
If only five percent of the people who now clog 270 tried Metro--just tried it!--you'd see an amazing difference.

Somewhere, USA: I thought the Bush STUNT was ridiculous -- there he was strutting around in his flight suit, looking for all the world like a little banty rooster proclaiming triumph over WHAT? Where are the weapons of world destruction? Where is Al Queda? Where is Sadamm? Where are that little Iraqi boy's arms?

Bob Levey: Those questions will hang heavy over the 2004 campaign, for sure. I'd expect to hear them all Saturday night, at the Demcoratic roosterfest in South Carolina.

Kensington, Md.: How come you raised these open-ended questions in the column today about Metro and didn't get the answers to them? That's what they pay you for, Bob!

Bob Levey: They pay me?
I hadn't noticed.

Arlington, Va.: I have to gnash my teeth every time you trot out some HR official to whine about being forced to wade through vague, cloying, and deceptive resumes. How about doing a column sometime on an earnest job seeker who spends the time to craft an informative, pertinent resume in response to a job announcement that turns out to be a sham since the position was essentially filled through connections before the announcement hit the street?

Bob Levey: Great minds!
Working on that very idea today.
Stay tuned.

Falls Church, Va.: Well Bob, I have decided to get off my tush and start writing to all the people who represent me in Virginia. I see all the budget cuts that are being made and I have some ideas about how to close those revenue gaps. I would like to pressure them to up HOV fees and inforcement for one.

Only problem is, I have no idea where to find out who does represent me. Any idea where I or any metro neighbor should look if they are similarly clueless?

Bob Levey: www.houseofrepresentatives.gov

Lexington Park, Md.: Bob, as to the HR person in your column a couple days ago. I never ever put salary information on my resume, nor do I ever tell anyone at that company how much I would like to make. They are not just interviewing me, I'm interviewing them to determine if they are the kind of company I'm willing to spend at least 40 hours a week with. And when the salary question comes up, I always tell them that it doesn't matter what I want, it's how much I'm worth to them.

It hasn't hurt me yet. I'm 20 for 21 as to job offers to interviews. Just my thoughts though.

Bob Levey: Many thanks for a good take on this, and congratulations on your batting average.
Of course, I have to ask.....
What happened the 21st time?
Did you forget to floss?

Bush's Speech (Or Was It?): Was that a speech? I thought I was watching a 20 minute info-mercial on why he thinks people should like him. I guess he needed that ego boost after his Monday night interview with Tom Brokaw got worse ratings than dogs that can play basketball (on America's Funniest Home Videos.) That's gotta hurt the ol' self-image.

Bob Levey: Bush looks like a very solid candidate for re-election (and he did before the carrier landing). But his father looms large, both literally and figuratively. No way this president will take anything fro granted, given how fast and how far his Daddy fell.

Kensington, Md.: Oh c'mon ... "They pay me?"

You're a columnist for one of the largest papers in the country, and you make it sound like they feed you dog food and make you scrape by on $8 an hour.

Bob Levey: That was a joke, Kensington. Of course they pay me. But no one ever gets rich in the newspaper business.

Washington, D.C.: Hey Bob,

We should have a national "No Whiners" and "No Complaints" day.

Bob Levey: We wouldn't know what to do with ourselves!
I'd rather have a No Unsolicited Comments of Any Kind in the Office Day.
Doesn't it make you crazy when people comment on your clothes and hair as if you were a hippopotamus in the zoo? None of your business, peeps.

Alexandria, Va.: Bob -- how cool is this -- our receptionist just discovered her cell phone can be programmed to "ring" The Simpson's theme song ... sooo appropriate, can be assigned to a specific in-coming caller.

Bob Levey: If any cell phone purveyor ever figures out how to ring a cell phone with the first few bars of Muddy Waters singing "Got My Mojo Workin'," I may overcome my lifelong reluctance to buy one of them.

Arlington, Va.: Last week, a tourist walked up to me in the Metro and asked where he could toss some trash. He was amazed when I told him that he would have to leave the station to find a trash basket. I am aware that there are security concerns relating to trash baskets but I understand that Metro bought bomb proof cans for a purpose. In the meantime, both the trains and the platforms have a good deal of debris.

Bob Levey: Like you, I think the decision to remove trash cans from platforms has caused more trouble than it has prevented. Metro NEVER had candy wrappers all over its benches and cars. It does now.

Washington, D.C.: Ok fair and balanced Bob, when are you going to post some pro-Bush or at least neutral Bush comments today? And don't tell me it's because you haven't gotten any.

Bob Levey: Wasn't my assertion that he's a strong candidate for re-election enough for you?

Washington, D.C.: I've noticed quite a lot of PA announcements on my Metro trains in the past several months. The train operators more often than not plead with people to move to the center, don't block the doors, and let people exit before boarding. Perhaps similar announcements within the stations are needed. Oh, but then the station managers might actually have to work.

Bob Levey: Amen all around. Metro is reluctant to make announcements such as this in stations because they sometimes sound like hectoring. I'd rather hear hectoring than watch people disobey the rules 24/7.

Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Bob,

Considering all three avoided true military service, why is Clinton seen as a draft dodger while both Bush Jr. and Cheney seem to have gotten a free pass on the matter?

Bob Levey: An extremely good and extremely complicated question. My short take: Clinton was so hated by so many righties, and he never said, "Hey some of your guys did it, too." Perhaps that would have sounded like whining, perhaps not. But I do agree that it's absolutely amazing to see career military embrace Bush as if he had done 20 years on active duty.

Washington, D.C.: "But no one ever gets rich in the newspaper business."

How much did Woodward and Bernstein sell their Watergate papers for again?

Just busting your chops Bob!

Bob Levey: Fair point.
Of course, when That Day finally comes for me, I'll sell the dusty files here in my fofice for $5 million.
Any takers?

Alexandria, Va.: Any chance I'll be able to take "The Clarry" to the beach with me over Memorial Day weekend?

Bob Levey: Maybe Memorial Day 2004. Stay tuned.

Boston, Mass.: Hi Bob --

You're right in that Madame Recruiter holds the aces and writes the rules, but she's also not the only card game in town. No matter how bad the economy is, even people who take that job might decide to go somewhere else if a boss is a picky unpleasable ranter. And then the whole interview process goes again. I used to work in DC and saw a couple of offices with over 90% turnover in a year because of bosses much like the one in your column.

She might be reflecting reality for herself, but there are several aspects of reality.

Bob Levey: This is an excellent and important point. The whole idea behind running an organization is to hire the right people AND THEN NOT HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN ANY TIME SOON. You build a team; you don't just try to skimp on salaries.

Washington D.C.: What does "peeps" mean?

Bob Levey: People.
In under-25-speak.
And you thought I was in my 50s, huh?

Washington, D.C.: Bob, one thing that I haven't seen discussed much here that has really worked in London is the idea of a Congestion Charge, so that people wouldn't drive to downtown DC (and I guess we could also do one for Tyson's and other job centers). Less traffic, more economically efficent, and more money to expand highways and transit. Odds of happening here in our lifetime?

Bob Levey: Less than zero. Less even than a commuter tax.
As I've written many, many times, motorists still cling to the idea that traffic would improve magically in Washington (and other U.S. cities) IF ALL THOSE OTHER BLOCKHEADS WOULD JUST GET THE $#@$ OUT OF THE WAY. That is hopeless as public policy.

Arlington, Va.: So where do we write to complain that there is no "No Complaining Day?"

Bob Levey: My in box is open, as always

Arlington, Va.: With all the buzz about "Bush's carrier landing," how many people don't stop to think about what really happened?

According to the Post's story this a.m., Bush took the controls for about 1/3 of the flight -- i.e., about five minutes. Not even W can pull enough strings to be allowed to make a carrier landing, and if he had tried it, Dick Cheney would be president as I write this.

The landing was made by the guy in the left seat, and from what I (a pilot) saw, he did a beautiful job. So W sits while someone else does all the work, and he gets the credit.

Oh well.

Bob Levey: A pal who flies big planes for a living says it means nothing to say you "flew a plane" when it's in level flight. The only skill (and danger) comes when you try to land, take off or avoid another plane--none of which Bush did.

Arlington, Va.: No question, just a compliment. I want to praise you for having the courage of your convictions. Most journalists attempt to maintain a veneer of objectivity. Not so with you. You are unafraid to show your toxic contempt for the president, and I salute you for it.

Bob Levey: Your faint praise truly warms my heart.
For your information, I have no toxic contempt for this president or any other. I certainly think George 43 has enormous flaws. But so did the other 42.
I've been around way too long to think that any president is off the charts to either end of the spectrum. This guy isn't the best and he isn't the worst. Does that sound like "toxic contempt?"

Dulles Toll Road: What happens when someone goes through the toll without paying?

Bob Levey: He is forced to watch reality TV for an entire weekend, with only potato chips for company.

Vienna, Va.: Any update on your negotiations to return to the airwaves on the new leftist radio network? Man, am I sick of Bill O'Reilly! I want Bob Levey!

Bob Levey: Radio bulletin:
The Bobster will be hosting the 4-7 p.m. slot on WTNT AM this coming Monday, May 5. I'll be filling in for my old pal, Paul Berry.
Give a listen and see if I'm over my cold yet.....

Lexington Park, Md.: Nah, flossed and looked good, just must have come off wrong with the interviewer. Oh well, it gave me experience anyway.

I think it helps that I'm an engineer too and still highly in demand.

Bob Levey: Thanks for the additional information--and thanks for taking it in stride. Rejection is part of the game, isn't it? Right you are that we learn from it, even when the game doesn't go our way.

Arlington, Va.: The career military embraces Bush because he respects them, is not afraid of them, and is not afraid of leading our forces to make the world a better place. Clinton instinctively distrusted the military, and they, in turn, distrusted him. For the first time in years, the military has a commander in chief who is not embarrassed to be the commander in chief.

Bob Levey: This is a very strong analysis. But don't you wonder why a bird colonel doesn't ask the Commander in Chief, "Why didn't you serve?"

Hell's Kitchen, New York City, N.Y.: Hi Bob! It's a gorgeous day here.

Question: why does some people seem to think of political distinctions as insults -- and use them as such the first chance they get? Case in point "Don't get all liberal on this, Bob" (and meant in a critical way). What does the liberal mindset have to do with donuts? And why do such people think using those words as insults will make their case for them? Liberal and conservative and just words to describe where someone stands on the political spectrum --they're not evaluations of character or intelligence. The reason I don't like this attitude is because it contributes to growing disaffection with the political process, because it's seen as personally driven rather than valuable public service.

Bob Levey: "Liberal" and "conservative" are no longer words. They are slurs. They mean nothing. They are used by meatheads to try to get a rise out of people.

Chevy Chase, Md.: Job seekers -- Another resume tactic that gets to me as an employer. Listing LSAT scores, SAT scores, etc. ...

Bob Levey: Right up there (down there?) with young people who list on their resumes what their parents do.
Don't laugh.
I interview several dozen young people each year, for the job as my assistant. That one crops up just about every year.

Washington, D.C.: So if Giant's policy was bad (and I say it is -- it's a 50-cent doughnut and a worker who, from all I've heard, had proven himself trustworthy), does keeping it in place make it any better?

Bob Levey: I say Giant should either have....
1) Fired the guy and stayed with that decision.
2) Never have fired him.
I would vote for 2, but I could easily understand and respect 1.
Giant tried to do a tap dance instead. It makes them look silly.

Career Military Embracing Bush: Surely some of that is budgetary self-preservation. Rightly or wrongly, military people regard the Republicans as political friends and Democrats as political enemies.

Bob Levey: No question.

Washington, D.C.: The one thing the recruiters and managers hate when looking at resumes are spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes. Thet will always prevent you from getting the interview!

Bob Levey: Yet many applicants think they don't need to bother editing or spell-checking their resumes!

Film Watching: I had a fantastic experience this weekend, watching the first two Godfather films at the beautifully restored AFI Silver Theatre. Too bad you'll never experience anything like that, Bob. These American masterpieces are two of the best films ever made, but they're just too violent for you.

One thing I love about the Godfather is just how Shakespearean it is, in flow, in dialogue, in theme, in provocativeness. But then, you must not like Shakespeare, either. Too violent.

You're a good guy, Bob, but you're too close-minded about film.

Bob Levey: I've watched both Godfather films and they're both junk.
Come on, admit it.
They're junk.
They're designed to thrill you with gore and entice you with violence.
To call these films Shakespearian is ridiculous. Shakespeare didn't write caricatures. Puzo did.

The Clarry: Bob, if you're saying that The Clarry could be available in May 2004, then you must be mighty close to signing a contract or already have done so, since it usually takes at least a year from the time a contract's signed to publication. Is this true? Give us the scoop!

Bob Levey: I'm just hoping like all get-out. No news to report.

Alexandria, Va.: Bob -- What is the farthest flung or most remote location from one of your posters?

Bob Levey: My all-time favorite in this respect came a few years ago, on my Tuesday show, when our guest was the chief engineer for the Springfield Mixing Bowl highway reconstruction project. There we were, clicking away about flyover ramps and cars-per-hour, when here came a post from.....
New Delhi, India.
Where it was 2 a.m. at the time!
I wanted to tell the guy, "Go to bed!"

Arlington, Va.: While I haven't followed the 50-cent doughnut story too closely, I have trouble believing that a doughnut (or two) was the only reason for his firing.

Bob Levey: Giant's initial statement said that he was fired because he had filched a doughnut once before. However, he repaid the 50 cents that time, too.

Germantown, Md: Has it ever occurred to you that there are some people who would LOVE to take Metro to work every day, for all of the reasons you state (on-time reliability, etc.), but cannot because they CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE NEAR IT? I would cherish a house -- even a tiny townhouse -- near Metro, even as much as a two-mile walk away. But I can't afford to live near Metro. That's why I sit on 270 every day. I wish you considered people like me before making sweeping generalizations.

Bob Levey: You could drive (or take a bus) to Metro and THEN get aboard, couldn't you? Sure, I know that Metro didn't build enough parking spaces. Metro knows it, too. Improvements are on the way. But most people in Germantown (and farther out) will still drive because they believe it's faster, cheaper and safer than Metro. It's none of the three.

Prize winning unsolicited office comment: During an office chat with several co-workers, I mentioned that my daughter was coming home from college for the weekend with her boyfriend. One person asked if I let them sleep in the same room. I tried to just play deaf, and they actually pushed for an answer. I replied, “Excuse me, but do I understand that you’d like to discuss my daughter’s sex life?” Silence.

Bob Levey: No backbone replacement surgery necessary for YOU!
Way to go.
Some people just need more to do.

Washington, D.C.: Just curious, but when you address the President in writing, shouldn't it be capitalized? I noticed you didn't do it (although you're quickly typing out responses), but I also noticed it in a book I read. Thanks and have a good weekend!

Bob Levey: If I'm talking about the man by name, yes. I'd write "President George W. Bush."
But if I'm talking about the office in general, no.

Ego-Boosting in Obits: Bob, you mentioned that sometimes a job-hopeful will mention their parents' occupations.

I can top that -- several years ago, I was reading one of the obits in your paper and it mentioned one of the surivors and stated that he/she was the author of a book -- as if an obit was the proper place to blow one's own horn instead of the deceased. No question who wrote THAT obit.

Bob Levey: And no question that an editor should have taken the clippers to that morsel.

Arlington, Va.: Gene Weingarten has a very strong anti-spellchecker stance. Where do you land on this issue? Are you as much of a language preservation purist as Gene is?

Bob Levey: I'm a big language preservationist, but I don't rely on Microsoft to help me do it.
The biggest and best spell-checker I own is that pumpkin-shaped thingie on top of my shoulders.

Liberal Vs. Conservative: Excellent point, Bob! Whenever I read columns or editorials, I stop paying attention if the writer uses either of those words more than twice. Why? Because it's clear that the writer has no real point to make and is only trying to lambast opponents.

Bob Levey: Exactly. Thanks very much for the pat on the back.

He Isn't the Best or the Worst ... : I haven't been around for many presidents, so I'll ask you - Who was the best/worst president? (If you want, you can do either best/worst political leader, best/worst overall person in the job, or best/worst person who also happened to be president.)

Bob Levey: FDR is light years ahead of the rest. He faced two monstrous crises (the Despression and WW2) and led the nation through both, beautifully. Lincoln sure had a monstrous crisis to contend with, but only one.
If there was a worse person than Nixon in The Big Job, I'm not aware of it.

Vienna, Va.: The problem with shoplifting is not ONE person stealing ONE item...it is the domino effect ... one becomes two, then three, etc. ... and before you know it, Giant has lost a million dollars in doughnuts. While this may seem trivial, you HAVE to start somewhere if you're going to get a handle on thievery.
Giant was correct to fire him.

Bob Levey: As I said, I certainly understand Giant's policy, and the basis for it, which you've just explained. What I don't understand is how stealing a doughnut can be a firing offense on one day, and not such a big deal the next day. Choose to fire the guy or keep the guy. But don't waver in the wind.

Washington, D.C.: Bob, what was your opinion of the Sunday Source? I think it was designed for the functionally illiterate.

Bob Levey: The graphics were neat and the writing had touch. But I worry about the assumption that young readers only care about movies and entertainment, and won't read a story longer than 500 words. Also, I wonder why the same movie and event listings had to appear in Weekend--and then Sunday Source two days later?

Bob Levey: Thank you, gang, for a lively 60 minutes (hey, you think some day we could invent a TV show by that name?). We'll do it again on May 9.

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