Mitt Comes to Town

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Yesterday, I needed to get some new Heli-Coil inserts to fix some damaged threads, so I hopped on one of my bikes and headed into town – “town” being Roanoke-Salem in southwest Virginia. On the way home, I encountered a traffic jam. This is a rare – almost nonexistent – occurrence down here. Almost always, there’s an accident and that’s what’s holding things up.

This time, Mittens was holding things up.

Mittens had come to town – along with his Praetorians, a motorized consort of black SUVs with black tinted windows and what appeared to be every cop in town (and perhaps the surrounding towns, too). “Keeping us safe,” apparently, takes a a back seat to keeping Mittens safe from us.

Mittens’ time is also valuable – while ours of course is not. A Praetorian had closed down the intersection I – and dozens of other motorists – were hoping to pass through. The intersection we paid for, mind. But which Mittens and his kind may exert exclusive ownership over at any time.

For a long time, nothing happened.

No Mittens.

Nonetheless, we were required – at gunpoint – to wait for the royal procession of the GOP dauphin. Any of us mere Mundanes who dared to perform a U-turn or do anything other than freeze in place risked the ire – and the gunfire – of the Praetorians. And so, we sat – and stewed. It was easily 90 degrees outside. But no doubt, Mittens’ chariot is air conditioned.

At least fifteen minutes went by; the cars were now stacked up for a good half mile – as far back as I could see, at any rate. I shut off the bike. Unlike Mittens, I pay for my own fuel and so try not to waste it. I suppose when you are the elected king and have unlimited access to the public exchequer then such things are not much bother. Only the “little people” pay for their own gas, after all.

Then, in the distance, a sound – and a flash! He was coming.

To the accompaniment of his Praetorians – blue lights flashing, surrounded by his protective begleitkommando – Mittens’ gigantic tour bus arrived. As it approached, emotion welled up within me and boiled over. I could not help myself. stood up and gave Mittens the universally understood “up yours” salute and jeered at the black-windowed bus as it passed by. It is my fervent hope that Mittens saw at least one proletarian who will not remove his cap and bend his knee when in The Presence. Who knows the emperor has no clothes. That he is just some guy – a guy who wields tremendous power, it’s true. But that’s just the point. Nothing makes Mittens – or any of them – worthy of deferential treatment. It’s just some guy. Some guy – who wants to control your life.

Screw him! If you met such a character on the street – and he didn’t have Praetorians backing him – you’d probably tell him precisely that. The fact that most of us are afraid to do it when it’s Mittens – and his Praetorians – speaks volumes about the nature of our relationship to the government.

So, the experience was cathartic. I felt good for the rest of the day.

I wish more Americans would do the same – or similar. In fact, I regard it as essential that more of us do the same. That more and more of us refuse to be respectful. After all, what is there to respect?

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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