by Beverly Eakman
April 3, 2009
You “gotta” love it: A front-page headline in the Washington Times’ March 25 issue openly acknowledged that a plan to widen use of DC traffic cameras is intended “to help close [the] budget gap” — as opposed to saving lives or enhancing safety. Among other expensive gadgets to be employed in this effort will be additional lasers “to catch tunnel speeders.”
I explained in a Letter-to-the-Editor (published Monday, March 30) that nearly every speed trap I’ve seen is placed at a short section “where traffic flow is low, danger nonexistent, and in a direction opposite the morning or evening rush-hour surge. The speed limit is lowered along a strategic couple of blocks to lure inattentive drivers into believing nothing has changed as they coast along the uneventful, intersection-free, school-free stretch; then the speed limit returns to whatever it was before.” Police, plus lasers and motorcycles, seem to show up only when the weather is good. Locals like me traveling such routes frequently know when and where to expect this charade; others move along glumly “at the pace of traffic.”
This irritating form of entrapment, as I noted in my letter, fills county law enforcement coffers, but leaves truly reckless drivers to weave in and out along busier stretches, honk their horns at those of us who are careful and refuse to “cut it close” when making turns at intersections, and intimidate drivers already going over the posted speed on freeways. There’s never enough money to repair potholes, clear debris or monitor parking lots for burglars and rapists, of course, but plenty of dough is somehow available for treacherously high speed bumps, surveillance (a.k.a. “traffic”) cameras and overpriced parking meters.
The headline in question would have been less galling to me (and apparently to other readers), had it not been for even more outrageous news over the past two weeks — a U.S. President who continues to amass senatorial campaign money from the state where he served as a U.S. Senator; violent Mexican drug cartels joining forces with terrorist groups (Hezbollah, in particular) to wreak havoc along our still-unprotected southernmost border; wealthy, political appointees who don’t pay taxes while raising everybody else’s; murderers let loose to terrorize more citizens before their sentences have come even close to expiring; and home-grown terror organizations like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) serving as counsel to the U.S. government, even with allegations against the group for offenses ranging from voter-registration fraud to “muscle-for-money” schemes (protest-for-hire services and coerced donations from the targets of demonstrations through a mob-style “protection” racket).
Then, there was the story bemoaning how certain states serve as “havens” for child pornography. It was placed directly opposite a report about the American Civil Liberties Union’s latest cause célèbre — a lawsuit against the principal of a California high school for fostering a “sexist and homophobic” atmosphere at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, merely because he wanted to review an forthcoming adult-themed play that highlights homosexuality to determine whether it was appropriate for a setting that serves children!
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Such bizarre, mixed messages and reports of abuse of power — all within a mere two-week period — point to a government so out-of-control that only a police state could ever rein it in.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s the point of the exercise.
� 2009 Beverly Eakman - All Rights Reserved
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Beverly K. Eakman is a former speechwriter for the Voice of America (under the U.S. Information Agency) as well as for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger when he chaired the Commission of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, and then a writer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Since retiring from the federal government, she has won numerous awards and is a sought-after speaker and lecturer.
She is the author of three best-selling books on education policy, mental-health issues and data-trafficking. She is a free-lance columnist with dozens of feature articles in hard-cover publications to her credit. She began her career as a teacher, where she first got wind, in the 1960’s and 70’s, of what was about to happen to classrooms nationwide. Her writings citing that period are considered historically important today and have earned her nationwide recognition.
She can be reached through her website: