POLITICS OCTOBER 11, 2013
They're coming! The three-day "Truckers Ride for the Constitution" rally is kicking off this morning as an unspecified number of big rigs drive up from Virginia and down from Pennsylvania to wall off D.C. Their plan: Drive around and around the Beltway—going the speed limit, an organizer has emphasized—potentially clogging its three lanes. You'll know them by the #T2SDA (Truckers to Shut Down America) stickers on their vehicles—and by the fact that they are a convoy of trucks encircling the capital. Though it piggybacks on shutdown outrage, the protest is actually about "new regulations, including on idling and hours of service, that threaten to put [truckers] out of business," according to The Washington Post.
If this sounds menacing, it's a lot tamer than the circus beltway residents thought we might be in for when a Georgia trucker named Earl Conlon (who has been thoroughly disowned by others involved in the protest) said the army of drivers was coming to arrest congressmen by way of "citizens grand jury," and that they might stop on the Beltway, becoming "a three lane roadblock." The protestors are still hoping to impeach President Obama, however, specifically because he "committed 'treason' by allegedly funneling weapons to al-Qaida-linked rebels in Syria," or so organizers told US News.
Outside the spectacle, the protest boasts a top-notch cast of characters. Its chief spokeswoman is Zeeda Andrews, a former country singer who Gawker says has distinguished herself more in recent years through "a nice mélange of right-wing shouting, Islamophobia, and crackpot conspiracy theorizing." In a YouTube commentary on the Benghazi attack, she said, "call me crazy, but Osama Bin Laden is our President Obama. Do your research." Okay, Andrews, we'll do some fact-checking and get back to you. A parallel protest on the West Coast has been planned by conservative radio host Peter Santilli; Santilli's newest business partner is Pennsylvania police chief Mark Kessler, who made headlines this summer for YouTube videos telling "all you libtards" to "take it in the ass" this summer. When Kessler was fired from his job at the end of September, Santilli set him up with a radio show.
The trucker protest is in the name of small government, but its greatest impact may be an unwelcome expansion of government services in the midst of the shutdown. The Post reports that Virginia state police will deploy additional troopers "Friday and through the weekend in case any incidents or problems tied to the rally occur."