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So I was talking to a taxi driver...

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I learned long ago that a lot of wisdom comes from taxi drivers. I was doing an internship at the US Embassy in Argentina while I was in grad school, and I remember one of the diplomats telling me, impressionable 23 year old that I was, that wherever you go, always ask the taxi drivers "¿Qué tal la situación?" It translates to "how is the situation," but it really meant, "so what's your take on current state of the country?" Oh the answers you'd get, really quite fascinating, and informative.

Anyway, I was heading off to buy paint samples for the new condo (I so don't have that gene) and I asked the taxi driver if he made any money yesterday, during the inaugural. No, it was a zoo, he told me. Then he started to tell me the story of a couple he took to the airport. They were obviously from out of town, here for the inauguration. Their response? We can't even talk about it. A few minutes later, they told him what happened. Basically, they flew all the way out here from somewhere not close, paid a ton of money for a hotel, were lucky enough to get tickets to the inaugural (for the 300,000 people area), and, like everyone else, they froze their 50 year old butts off standing in unmoving lines for hours until they missed the inauguration.

I mention this because a few of the readers got upset yesterday when I wrote about how Joe had experienced the same thing - left his house at 8am, in 22 degree weather, and ended up standing in line for hours until he too missed the swearing in. It's not griping, and making a mountain out of a molehill, pointing out that someone botched the logistics big time yesterday, and they didn't just ruin the day for a lot of people who were really excited about seeing the swearing in in person, but a lot of people paid a lot of money to come in from out of town to see this, and they really got screwed. This didn't happen to a couple hundred people, it happened to thousands, if not tens of thousands. I have numerous friends, all of whom didn't get in. Joe talked to lots of people last night, when he was out and about, and lots of people didn't get it in.

And from a congressional office's perspective, they gave out their share of the 300,000 tickets to their closest allies and friends. So the people who got screwed, the ticketholders, were the very people congress members were trying to woo. Now, for the people-of-the-people out there, some of you may say "good, screw the important people." But if you're a member of Congress, the last people you want to screw over are your most important constituents. This was a mess.

There's something to keep in mind here. Yesterday's snafu had nothing to do with the mobs of people on the mall. The people who had tickets where in line with 300,000 people, not with 2 million. And we've dealt with security for 300,000 people before, during previous inaugurations, and in other events. There is no excuse for botching this. And the excuse from the Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer is beyond laughable (and belies his previous job at the DC Metropolitican Police Department, where incompetence in leadership, and making absurdly irrelevant excuses, has been raised to an art form). In a nutshell, Gainer said that no one had planned on people wearing winter jackets.

Part of the problem, Gainer said, was that people wearing bulky winter clothing took up more space than officials had expected.
Huh? Just how much space did you "expect" bulky winter clothing to take up, that it surprised you? Or are you saying that you never expected people to wear winter coats in Washington, DC in January, when it easily slips into the 20s and even the teens?

It was 22 degrees yesterday. It's January. This is Washington, DC. January is our coldest month. The average temperature for the month is somewhere between 27F and 42F. It's a good bet in winter that the temps will drop, at least a few days, into the teens. And this winter, has been pretty cold already, so it was a good bet it might hit the 20s. And this being a more southern region, it was a very good bet that people would wear some damn heavy coats - this ain't Chicago where mid-20s is considered downright balmy.

But Gainer says in the article that only a handful of people were inconvenienced (that was another classic MPD move that Gainer obviously learned well - deflect any criticism as the rantings of a few whiners). Well, judging by the non-scientific survey of my friends, lots of whom didn't get in, and who tried to get in at different sides of the mall, and judging by the reports in the press about this, it wasn't just a handful of people. There were lots of people in lines on both sides of the mall, north and south, trying to get in, waiting for hours, who couldn't. And there was no one - no one - directing people to where the lines even were. It was a total botched job and an embarrassment (and these are the same people in charge of our security). Welcome to my city.

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