Colonial America

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The people of Washington, D.C., who don't rule themselves because Congress is nice enough to do it for them, might need to start relearning their local geography. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) proposes renaming 16th St. NW "Ronald Reagan Boulevard." His rationale:

Regardless of your political affiliation, most people agree that Ronald Reagan was an American icon…He was a president of national significance and for that reason he deserves an honor in the nation's capital.

Clearly, Reagan National Airport and the Ronald Reagan Federal Building aren't sufficient honors. As long as "most people agree," who cares what the locals think, let alone how much they'll have to pay ($1 million according to D.C. mayor Anthony Williams) so that non-Washingtonians can feel like they've properly smooched the old man's ring.

Tom Davis (R-VA), perpetually aggrieved chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, doesn't win much praise round here, but he did tell a local radio station that he had an "appropriate file" for Bonilla's proposal, and added:

If Congressman Bonilla wants to name anything else, he has to look at his own district in San Antonio.

On the other hand, given Davis's view of what "government reform" encompasses, changing street names in Washington isn't a huge stretch.

Full story here. Franklin Foer, guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan, observes that

the District of Columbia was one the few places to thoroughly reject Reagan's reelection. They won't let that drop. It's seems they'll keep forcing the Great Leader's name on us until we recant our decision in the 1984 election.

In July 1975, Ronald Reagan told Reason that "the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." Times a'change.

NEXT: I Guess 'Because You Made the Wrong Decision the First Time Around' Wouldn't Cut It

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  1. I blogged this this morning; when I read Bonilla’s remark about Reagan “deserving an honor” in the city, the first thing I thought of — as everyone always should — was The Simpsons:

    Lisa: Hmm, thank you Bart, for yet another touching ?Bart?s People”. Now, turning to?

    Bart: I just think our veterans deserve a little recognition.

    Lisa: That?s what Veteran?s Day is for, Bart.

    Bart: But is that really enough to honor our brave soldiers?

    Lisa: Eh, heh, heh?they also have Memorial Day.

    Bart: Oh, Lisa, maybe you?re right, maybe you?re wrong! The important thing is, veterans deserve a day to honor them!

    Lisa: [through clenched teeth] They have two!

    Bart: Well maybe they should have three. I?m Bart Simpson.

  2. If we’re gonna start renaming DC streets, how about rechristening 14th St. NW either Rasheeda Moore Boulevard or Bitch Set Me Up Drive…

  3. Eh, all this piecemeal renaming of the airport and 16th street stuff is a waste of time. Can’t we just change the name of the city to Reagan, D.C. and be done with it already.

  4. “Regardless of your political affiliation, most people agree that Ronald Reagan was an American icon.”

    So’s Charles Manson. Point?

    And before a certain regular who lives in DC appears, let me just say that actions like this in no way make it easier for irresponsible demagogues to seize and hold power in the DC government without delivering competent governance.

  5. Whatever. But can’t they just name it “Reagan Boulevard”? What’s with all the street naming now requiring the person’s surname AND their first name?

  6. Brian,
    Since RRN airport is in Alexandria (another solidly democratic area),They’d have to rename the entire DC/NoVA area to “Reaganland” for it to work properly.

    Joe,
    The DC government has nothing to do with this AFAIK. They just get the bill.

  7. In June of ’82 I had a good beer buzz on and began to channel (as my New Age friends say) a retired U.S. President. Very strange. I couldn’t figure out who it was. Years later I realized that it was Reagan.

    The point: I felt deep regret and sorrow because, even without knowing who it was, I knew that things were about to become very bad for people like me (pot-head libertarian/bohemian) and that preservation of my marijuan-ish culture would mean keeping real quiet until things blew over.

    *slowly raises head out of bunker* Hows it going out there guys?

    Yeah just what I need. Another fucking reminder of Ronny. What with all the Reagan lovers on this site, I expect to receive… well, I’ll just wait and find out.

  8. BTW, for those few on H&R who don’t live in DC 🙂
    In the proposed area of DC, streets are designed in a grid. N/S are numbers and E/W are letters. large streets that cut across the grid are state names. Nowhere in the system is there room to suddenly start throwing people’s names in there. If the people involved want to change a street name, it would make sense for them to look in SE DC, down by MLK Blvd (I guess there’s no chance of that. ha ha)

  9. jc, have you ever seen a sign for “The Reverand Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard?”

    Watch your head.

  10. Maybe, given Reagan’s footdragging ignorance re: AIDS, we should name it or the virus that causes it after him.

  11. “What’s with all the street naming now requiring the person’s surname AND their first name?”

    The worst one, and I swear to God I am not making this up, is the, “Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. Processing Distribution Center,” which was formerly known as the “Brentwood Postal Facility”. (Curseen and Morris were two postal employees who died from anthrax exposure back in 2001.) As a result, you get reports titled like this:

    Assessment of the Preliminary Decontamination Tests Conducted at the Joseph Curseen, Jr. and Thomas Morris, Jr. Processing and Distribution Center Formerly the Brentwood Postal Facility

    http://www.napfe.com/NAPFEstatement.asp

  12. Since RRN airport is in Alexandria (another solidly democratic area),They’d have to rename the entire DC/NoVA area to “Reaganland” for it to work properly.

    Well yes technically it’s in VA (Arlington actually), but I was referring more to the fact that it was Washington National Airport before the name change. So why not at least Reagan-Washington, D.C. kind of like the airport now 🙂

  13. In March 1913, Mary Foote Henderson, wife of former Sen. John Henderson (R-Mo.) persuaded Congress to rename 16th Street “Avenue of the Presidents.” So Reagan would already be honored, though only as one of many. Apparently, though, Congress repealed the law within a year. (Mrs. Henderson, BTW, was also instrumental in the creation of Meridian Hill Park, located across 16th Street from the Hendersons’ house, which was known as “Henderson’s Castle” and was for decades a Washington landmark.)

  14. “Nowhere in the system is there room to suddenly start throwing people’s names in there.”

    Well, back in the 80s, Congress renamed the section of 16th Street in front of the Soviet Embassy, “Andrei Sakharov Plaza,” and more recently they renamed the portion of 15th Street next to the Holocaust Memorial Museum as “Raoul Wallenberg Place.” Nobody pays any attention to those redesignations, however. If this Ronald Reagan Blvd. nonsense goes through, I trust it will be disregarded by the locals, the way New Yorkers still refer to Avenue of the Americas as 6th Avenue.

  15. I actually think quite highly of Reagan, but this does seem to be going a bit far. I mean, it has the stink of, “Neener-neener, in your face!” considering that DC is a nest of Democrats. By that I mean the ordinary residents who actually live there, not the folks originally from the outlands who now infest the area because they are employed by the federal government.

    I mean, if they named one of the streets in my city “William J. Clinton Boulevard” I would probably go out of my way to avoid driving on it.

    I think we should now place a moratorium on naming more government property after Reagan until we get the first operational anti-missile battlesat into orbit. Then name that after him. That seems much more fitting.

    (In that last paragraph, I am being very slightly ironic.)

  16. Seamus, it is common for intersections or sections of streets to have a place name, while the street retains its original name. They haven’t actually renamed those sections of streets, so much as double-named them.

    I recently finished a project in “Moulton Square,” which consists of sections of West Sixth, Hampshire, and Jewett Streets.

  17. If at some point I start doing experiments in addition to calculations, I shall be sure to name my samples “The Ronald Reagan Memorial Fibroblasts”.

  18. If it were up to me I’d mock everybody and rename the Metro the “Reagan Transit System”.

  19. Up next: republican congressman proposes legislation to make Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A” the new national anthem. (Can republicans take a dump without that song playing in the background?)

  20. Russ D – for its up-your-ass connotation?

  21. It doesn’t matter what they call its streets, it’s still an unnavigable cesspool designed by a drunken Frenchman. Burn the thing down and start over.

  22. Doesn’t $1 million for some street signs seem excessive?

  23. Maybe a nice compromise would be “Dead White Guy Blvd.”

  24. BTW, if we change the name of the airport back to Washington National, could we please change the one in New York back to Idlewild?

  25. Is “Kennedy” terribly unpopular with New Yorkers?

  26. Doesn’t $1 million for some street signs seem excessive?

    In DC, no street can travel in a straight line for more than one-tenth of a mile; the resulting changes of direction and intersections push the cost of street sign replacement far above that of a normal city.

  27. Doesn’t $1 million for some street signs seem excessive?

    Not really. 16th street is one of the longest, if not the longest, streets in DC, running from just north of the White House all the way up to the tip of the (mangled) diamond, about 7 miles, maybe more.

  28. slow news day?

  29. jc writes:

    [C]an’t they just name it “Reagan Boulevard”? What’s with all the street naming now requiring the person’s surname AND their first name?

    On further consideration, I would say that perhaps the signs are not specific enough:

    “OK, now, so you take a left on Ronald-Reagan-Senior-Not-Junior-You-Know-That-Treacherous-Turncoat-Son-Of-His-Yes-The-Ballet-Dancing-One-This-Street-Is-Definitely-Not-Named-After-Him Boulevard …”

  30. NOt really a slow news day kind of thing if you consider what the true travesty here is. It is not that Bonilla wants to rename a street for Reagan. That’s fine. It’s the million bucks thaqt used to reside in taxpayers’ pockets that is the travesty. “They” ought to pass a law that states that from now one, legislators should only be able to vote one whether or not to change a street/building/area name, not get funding for it. The funding will have to come from private donors. Now let’s see how far Bonilla gets.

  31. Why don’t these idolaters get it over with and just dig up his dead body and suck his dick already?

    There, I said it.

  32. Sometime back onion had a hilarious piece on renaming alzheimer’s as reagan disease.

  33. Why don’t we just take a page out of Dr. Hibbert’s book and offically declare that all rivers will now be called Reagans? We could have the Mississippi Reagan, the Potomac Reagan, and all kinds of other messes. In fact, why not do away with nouns and pronouns all together? Reagan would be a proud Reagan for all Reagans of the United Reagans of Reagan.

    See, it’s easier already.

  34. Whenever they feel like they have to rename somethin’ after somebody, I’m always glad it’s Reagan.

    Boy the way Subhumanz played.
    Songs that made the Gores irate.
    Guys like us, we had it made.
    Those were the days.

    …and you knew where you were then.
    Girls were girls, and men were men.
    Mister we could use a man like Ronald Reagan again.

    Screeds against the Welfare State,
    Stockman pulled with all his weight.
    Blame it all on Contra-Gate.
    Those were the days.

  35. First of all, I’m on record as prefering ‘Washington National’ to ‘Reagan National’, Washington National just tells you exactly where it is.

    Point II: Not many DC’ers would be bitching if they wanted to rename it Martin Luther King Blvd I’ll wager.

    III: But see, that is just exactly what is wrong with government. How the hell can it cost a million dollars to rename a frikkin’ street? Unless, of course, they’re counting the private costs of all the business entitities that have to fork up cash to change letterhead, envelopes, brochures, signs, etc.

  36. Shoulda read the article first. I was right, the idiots in DC claim it will cost a million dollars to change the street signs. My 9 year old has a name for those kind of people. LOSERS!

  37. I think we should throw a sop to the DC Statehood movement and allow that they can have statehood, if they name their state Reagania.

  38. Douglas — perfect! Now that I can get behind.

    The Reagan Compromise of 2005.

  39. And before a certain regular who lives in DC appears, let me just say that actions like this in no way make it easier for irresponsible demagogues to seize and hold power in the DC government without delivering competent governance.

    No, I’ve seen the light joe. You’re absolutely right about this one. My friend reminded me today that when congress stepped in and had National Airport renamed Reagan National the entire Arlington County gov’t collapsed like a house of cards, and its fair citizens proceeded to elect a bunch of slack jawed, pot smoking, tax and spend idjuts who then ran the county into bankruptcy, destroyed the schools and banned the sale of red M&Ms.

    And to think I had completely forgotten about that. Mind like a sieve, I tell you.

  40. I lived on 16th st and Monroe (the Park Monroe Apts if anyone cares) for a year and I’d be pissed if they renamed it Raygun.

    16th St is also the unofficial white/international-black divinding line in the NW — less so now, I lived on the ‘wrong’ side of 16th for 3 years (Georgia-Petworth 11th area and people would visit our house for a while…

  41. Re: “The people of Washington, D.C., who don’t rule themselves because Congress is nice enough to do it for them …”

    That’s because it’s a federal district, and has been for, gosh, long enough for that fact to get noted in readily available reference books. If D.C. inhabitants don’t like it, they should move to a normal city.

  42. …and until then, 600,000 American citizens living in their hometown get to keep their mouths shut.

  43. The politics here are, as usual, extremely irritating. If the proposed name change was “Malcolm X Drive” then all the arguments would completely turn over on both sides, with the same amount of passion, conviction, and bullshit.

    And fuck DC streets, anyway. Fuck them. Who’s fucking bright idea was to model them after PARIS, for christ’s sake? Circles, one-way streets, dead ends, mid-road name changes, fucking diagonals that split off in fucking five directions.. It’s a goddamned nightmare.. especially if you make one simple mistake and end up in Southeast late at night.

  44. Who’s fucking bright idea was to model them after PARIS, for christ’s sake?

    Assuming you’re serious…

    Since you’re so familiar with Southeast DC, you may have heard of L’Enfant Plaza — named after an architect named Pierre L’Enfant who was responsible for the bright idea way back in the day.

  45. …and until then, 600,000 American citizens living in their hometown get to keep their mouths shut.

    No, they’ll bitch and moan and think they’re the most important people on the face of the earth, just like they always have.

  46. “If the proposed name change was “Malcolm X Drive” then all the arguments would completely turn over on both sides, with the same amount of passion, conviction, and bullshit.”

    Yes, they would. The people WHOSE CITY IT IS would probably support the name change, and the people who have suddenly found themselves with power over the city they’ve spent their adult lives insulting, and who use it as a stage on which to strike poses for their constituents back home, would oppose it.

    That the people WHOSE CITY IT IS would support renamings that they like, and oppose renamings that they didn’t like, proves what, exactly?

    Your point would make more sense if this was a debate between Congressional Dems and Congressional ‘Publicans, but it’s not – it’s a debate between people from Washington, and the outsiders who govern them irresponsibly.

  47. How about renaming it Cesar Chavez drive? That damn grape picker has a street named after him in every other city, why not D.C.?

  48. Don, he has a school in DC.

  49. joe:

    I think this issue has much more to do with racial politics then a simple home-rule beef. I’m seeing plenty of jerking knees on both sides.

  50. Actually, DC already has a Malcolm X Avenue.

    Most of 16th St. is outside of the original L’Enfant plan–upper 16th St. is in a residential neighborhood where most of the cross-streets have floral names.

    Personally, I think the idea of Congress spending its time and resources on such idiocy as renaming DC streets is silly. On the other hand, DC is a federal district, and the people living there simply have to deal with that. Perhaps the best solution would be to shrink the federal district to the downtown core of federal buildings, and give the rest back to Maryland. A few years ago, Md. wouldn’t have wanted it, but now with the dramatic increase in DC property values, perhaps that would change. Increasingly, the bad crime in the area is moving from DC to Prince George’s County, Maryland, anyway.

  51. ChrisO, it would be interesting to see if Maryland’s interest in taking the non-Federal parts of the District back (a’la Virginia and Arlington). I’m not so sure that the rise in housing prices and drop in crime have quite negated all of Maryland’s concerns. On the other hand, assuming Maryland did to take that land, I think the District’s stance on this would be much more interesting. Would the mayor and city council be happy having to wheel and deal with the Maryland state assembly after hob-knobbing with the Feds for so long? To go from the Capital of the Free World ™ to second fiddle to Baltimore? If I were a betting man I’d say no.

  52. True, Nathan, but at least they would be able to vote in their own corrupt, ineffective congressmen, rather than having such critters from Texas willy-nilly renaming their streets. Such is the hue and cry of DC residents. Or is there really another agenda?

    Race is not only the bogey behind much of the protesting against congressional interference in DC, it is also the unstated rationale behind the DC Statehood movement. The notion of Chocolate City becoming Chocolate State is the real point of the exercise. However, regardless of skin color, DC is very poorly set up to become a state–poor tax base, no homegrown industry other than shystering and lobbying, lots and lots of infrastructure needing maintaining, etc. And Chocolate State would no longer receive the big federal lump payment every year, so they would no doubt tax whitey right out of the place within a couple of years.

    I see DC as land ‘borrowed’ by the Feds from Maryland. If the feds don’t want it anymore, they should give it back…even if Md. doesn’t want it back! 🙂

  53. MNG,

    Nothing gets the knees jerking more than naming streets. Our majority-Irish City Council recently renamed “Marion” and “LaGrange” streets back to “Cork” and “Dublin” Streets, after 150 years with the “new” names. Those were their original names, but only for a couple years, until the French names replaces them. So now the Irish Mafia on the City Council decides to right that ancient wrong. Cue shitstorm. The upshot is, the poor Cambodians and Puerto Ricans who live their now have to change all their utility bills. Nice, eh?

    But at least that was locals making their own decisions about their own city. I don’t want the residents of Washington DC renaming the streets in Henry Bonilla’s hometown “Marion Barry Way” and “New Black Panther Party Drive,” and I don’t want Henry Bonilla using the streets of anyone else’s city to show his constituents what a big, tough right winger he is, either.

  54. joe:

    Agreed. This thing is indeed stupid and 16th street should just be 16th street. As I’ve ranted, the roads are a jumbled mess as they are, and 16th is one of the few precious straight shots out of DC (all blessings be to 16th, Georgia Avenue, and Connecticutt)

  55. BTW……Washington National Airport (ahem Reagan National Airport) is in Washington DC according to the airport authority. It is on reclaimed land, once part of the Potomac and not in Virginia. Too much Reagan, enough!

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