Politics & Policy

Varmints in The Capital; Things Every New Yorker Should Know


I stepped on a rat this morning. No, I’m not conjuring a compelling metaphor; I didn’t jump a snitch in the exercise yard. There’s nothing political about it either; no clever allusion to Bill Clinton and his China dealings during the year of the rodent. Yep, sometimes all there is, is the stuff above the subtext — what’s that called again? Oh that’s right: the text. So, I stepped on a rat this morning. It was dead already, which didn’t make stepping on it any more of a positive experience. I will spare you the gruesome details. But let’s just say that stepping on a rat, on wet pavement, while reading the newspaper, and slipping on your little gray surf-vermin, isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.

What’s really frustrating is that I’ve done it before. There is an alley near my house that I cut through sometimes because it brings me closer to newspapers, coffee, beer…you know, civilization? It is bustling with rats, the alley — not civilization. They’re not Disney rats — which I hate too — but real ones. You know, the sorts of things you’d expect Jim Carville to eat from a bucket while watching TV in his mobile home. Our new Mayor, here in Washington, has already announced he will not be niggardly in his efforts to curtail the rat population. He has his work cut out for him. One estimate, I think, said there are three million rats in the District. Whatever the actual number, there are a lot of rats in the nation’s capital (again, really, no metaphors, I swear). At night they scurry under the bushes and through the gantry. My friends became so fed up with incursions and raids into their patio that they began shooting at the interlopers with a BB gun. No confirmed kills yet. I know my friends would welcome the cavalry’s help in getting rid of the varmints. But, the Mayor has not made it clear what he will do to take back the night.

I’m pretty sure the one I stepped on this morning was killed retail rather than as part of any wholesale government-sanctioned rat pogrom. Rodent autopsies aren’t my gig, well not anymore, but I’d say this fellow seemed to have been auditioning for a position as tire inspector at the time of death and came at the job from the wrong angle. If he did die as part of a larger government attempt at pest control, I’d say the mayor needs to rethink his approach. Killing all of the rats with cars will take a very long time, but it would be a cool job wouldn’t it?


When I stepped on the rat I was reading an article in the Washington Post about the continuing buzz over Hillary’s potential Senate candidacy (okay, now maybe there’s room for a metaphor somewhere in there). Yesterday’s file notwithstanding, maybe she actually believes her press releases and thinks she can win. I recall the last time an arrogant Left Winger ran for a job he was totally unqualified for. It was 1988 and Jesse Jackson was running for President. On ABC’s This Week with David Brinkley, George Will asked Jackson, “I suppose therefore we can assume that you agree with the G7 and the Louvre accords?” Jackson, looking as if he’d been offered a lint statuette of Wendell Wilkie snapped, “What’s that?”

So following are some questions that politicians running in New York City (forget about upstate for a moment) must be able to answer without consulting notes:

1) What is an egg cream?

2) Were you in favor of the Charter revision of 1989 that abolished the Board of Estimate in NYC?

3) As of course you know, New York has a fundamentally different municipal structure than all other American Cities, I was wondering if you might tell me whether you think that is an advantage and why?

4) What is your opinion of the new proposal for the Second Avenue subway? Why?

5) Are you in favor of the freight rail tunnel from Bayonne, N.J. to the Brooklyn Navy Yard?

6) What is the difference between Ray’s Famous, Original Ray’s Famous, Famous Original Ray’s, and Ray Bari Pizza?

7) What is your stance on the residency exemption for uniformed civil servants in light of the Amadou Dialou shooting?

8) States like Arkansas (hint) receive a disproportionately high share of Federal revenues, while New York City pays a disproportionately high share of Federal taxes. Do you think New Yorkers should have to pay more than what’s fair?

9) Moving sports teams to New Jersey is: a) a profound miscarriage of justice b) the most unimaginable and heinous of crimes c) a sound and fiscally prudent option d) anyone who says that Jersey should get anything more than a warm bucket of spit should have live raccoons sewn into his stomach.

10) As an avowed voluptuary of the U.N., I was wondering whether you think the international glitterati of cookie pushing kleptocrats that infest our city should be allowed to get away without ever paying a single parking ticket?


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