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Undernews: Inauguration Day 2005

On The West Side Of The Capitol

Compiled By Editor Sam Smith

YOUR editor enjoyed lunch today with his wife at Jimmy T's five blocks down East Capitol Street from where George Bush and his capos were being given four more years to do damage to their country, its constitution, its culture, and its environment -- not to mention further mischief to the rest of the world. The inauguration was taking place on the opposite side of the Capitol and there were hardly any cars or people and no signs of security.

The counter at Jimmy T's was full so we sat in a booth. The TV was on but no one looked at the inauguration and the sound was turned to WASH-FM - loud enough so you couldn't hear the helicopters overhead. For as long as it takes to eat a short stack with bacon and drink a cup of coffee we could pretend everything was okay.

The other day I walked by the Capitol and found myself wondering why we weren't more paranoiac during the Cold War. When Johnson and Kennedy and Nixon were president you could still wander about the Capitol's halls and through the associated office buildings as though you were actually a part owner. Yet if Tom Ridge had been in charge of setting the alerts for that era, he would have run out of colors. We were in far more danger than we are now.

Even if one wants to argue that a dirty bomb in a backpack is more dangerous than a clean bomb sent by a rocket or that a few suicidal young Arab guys are more dangerous than divisions of well dressed Soviet troops, you still do have to argue the point and that in itself suggests that the response should be somewhat similar.

But there's little similar about it and as I walked down the hill by the Capitol it suddenly struck me that this isn't about me and you; it's about them. We are being governed by some intensely frightened people. From George Bush on down. Much of the homeland security business, in Washington at least, is to provide personal protection to important people from the consequence of the extremely bad things they are doing. We are the victims of both Al Qaeda and Il Dubya, told to give up our rights and freedoms so that the worst leaders of our entire history can go about their business without having to suffer for it. The whole city of Washington has become the armored vest of the Bush administration and Congress. - Sam Smith



[NEVER has such broad and public space been turned over to such narrow private interests and with such limited access to the public as with the Bush Inaugural. Those attorneys looking for a good class action suit might consider the fact that the usurpation of public space and the security costs associated with it are in fact a contribution from the US government to the Republican Party, one which is certainly illegal and probably criminal.]

MATTHEW CELLA, WASHINGTON TIMES - Law-enforcement agencies say people who would like to attend today's inaugural festivities should not be intimidated by heightened security, but they should be aware of the stepped-up protective measures so they are not turned away. "We encourage people and we want people to participate, but we want them to be aware to bring lots of patience," said Sgt. Contricia Sellers-Ford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police. Capitol Police are tasked with providing security on the Capitol grounds, where President Bush will be sworn in and deliver his second inaugural address.

[In the first paragraph it's "people who would like to attend" but by the second it turns out you have to have a ticket]

Even though spectators are required to have obtained tickets in advance for the ceremony, Sgt. Sellers-Ford said they should be sure not to carry any prohibited items and to arrive as early as possible, because officers will have a limited amount of time to screen and seat everyone.

SARI HORWITZ AND CAROL D. LEONNIG, WASHINGTON POST - With long stretches of Pennsylvania Avenue lined with bleachers and reserved for ticket-holders or protesters, where can the general public stand and watch the 55th Inaugural Parade? The question was asked repeatedly Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, who was hearing a suit filed by a protest group over access to the parade route. But no clear answer emerged. . .

Officials with the D.C. police, whose officers will line the route, said they did not know exactly where the public should go and referred all questions to the U.S. Secret Service, which is overseeing security for the inauguration. Homeland Security Department officials also referred the question to the Secret Service. When asked where a member of the public could stand to view the parade today, Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said he did not know. "I do not have an answer to that question," Mazur said.

FBI officials involved with parade security noted that bleacher seating is for people with tickets and that several areas are designated for protesters. "There are no places on the parade route that are not already assigned or ticketed seating," an FBI official said. . .

A tour of the parade route last night revealed few places for the general public to stand and watch the procession. There appears to be space east of 10th Street NW, on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue. There are a few other pockets, including a half-block on the north side of Pennsylvania, west of 11th Street. Some intersections will also be open. But sidewalk access could change when the fencing is complete and some of the bleachers that were in the street last night are put in place.



[Obviously officials weren't expecting those invited to come by subway. During most other large public events in Washington the Metro is jammed] WASHINGTON TIMES - Metro will close the Archives-Navy Memorial and Smithsonian stations, which are inside the secure perimeter. The stations will remain closed until after the parade. A third station, the Mount Vernon Square-Convention Center stop, also will be closed today.


The list


[From the Progress Report]

$40 million: Cost of Bush inaugural ball festivities, not counting security costs.

$2,000: Amount FDR spent on the inaugural in 1945…about $20,000 in today's dollars.

$20,000: Cost of yellow roses purchased for inaugural festivities by D.C.'s Ritz Carlton.

200: Number of Humvees outfitted with top-of-the-line armor for troops in Iraq that could have been purchased with the amount of money blown on the inauguration.

$10,000: Price of an inaugural package at the Fairmont Hotel, which includes a Beluga caviar and Dom Perignon reception, a chauffeured Rolls Royce and two actors posing as "faux" Secret Service agents, complete with black sunglasses and cufflink walkie-talkies.

400: Pounds of lobster provided for "inaugural feeding frenzy" at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental hotel.

3,000: Number of "Laura Bush Cowboy cookies" provided for "inaugural feeding frenzy" at the Mandarin hotel.

$1: Amount per guest President Carter spent on snacks for guests at his inaugural parties. To stick to a tight budget, he served pretzels, peanuts, crackers and cheese and had cash bars.

22 million: Number of children in regions devastated by the tsunami who could have received vaccinations and preventive health care with the amount of money spent on the inauguration.

1,160,000: Number of girls who could be sent to school for a year in Afghanistan with the amount of money lavished on the inauguration.

$15,000: The down payment to rent a fur coat paid by one gala attendee who didn't want the hassle of schlepping her own through the airport.

$200,500: Price of a room package at D.C.'s Mandarin Oriental, including presidential suite, chauffeured Mercedes limo and outfits from Neiman Marcus.

2,500: Number of U.S. troops used to stand guard as President Bush takes his oath of office

26,000: Number of Kevlar vests for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that could be purchased for $40 million.

$17 million: Amount of money the White House is forcing the cash-strapped city of Washington, D.C., to pony up for inauguration security.


January 20, 2005

SINCE 1964, Washington's most unofficial source
1312 18th St. NW #502, Washington DC 20036
202-835-0770 Fax: 835-0779

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