Tarheeltalker

The World’s Longest Bridge Project

I can remember crossing over the Herbert C Bonner bridge for the first time, sometime in the early 70’s. I was absolutely petrified. I had never crossed  a bridge that high and really wasn’t sure that I wanted to. After a number of crossings over the years, those feelings of terror gradually subsided. When I drove across last month on the way to Ocracoke, the crossing was rather routine. But the bridge itself, or its future, is anything but.

But we must needs go back a bit. The bridge was built way back in 1963 and named for  a long serving NC Congressman, Democrat Herbert Covington Bonner from Washington, NC who served 12 terms and actually died while still in office. His namesake  bridge then became  a memorial bridge.

The bridge as it stands is 2.5 miles long and allows vehicles to cross the  Oregon Inlet ( named for the first vessel to pass through it, the Oregon) and continue on to Hatteras Island. The bridge was designed to last 3o years and the plans to replace actually began in 1990, which as it turns out was not nearly soon enough. The talks and the environmental studies and environment impact statements have gone on and on and on.

The latest public hearings took place in Manteo last week and were something of a fine tuning. If all goes well and that is quite a large word in this case, construction  might just begin in 2 years and be completed by 2015. The cost is projected to be only $300 million and that statement I make in all sincerity. That is because this new 2.7 mile  bridge, landing a bit west of the current one was not everyone’s  #1 choice. A coalition of environmental agencies and groups favored a 17 mile long structure that would have cost a whopping $1.3 billion.  NC DOT spokesman Drew Joyner said it quite well when he sated that the state just could not afford it. That’;s a refreshing comment from  a government spokesman, is it not?

Granted there needed to be lots of studies and opportunity for comment, etc. After all, the bridge’s location is about the perfect storm for environmental issues. It’s near an ocean, a sound, a national refuge and a national park. And if things were not done just so, you can bet good money that a raft of  environmental lawyers would be lining up, briefcases in hand and palms outstretched.

Hear a few statements. NC DOT calls the bride “structurally deficient” but safe for travel. They are actually working hard right now at fixing weak spots. Kinda gives one just a small unsettled feeling though. And another from Beth Midgett who chairs the Citizens Action Committee to build Bonner Bridge. She says that public safety has to win out over bureaucracy at some point. It does, does it not? And finally, from Ken Sharp, Jr of Manteo who is “merely” a local citizen. Words of wisdom here. ” Just build me  a bridge, please.” Well said sir.

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July 13, 2010 Posted by | economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Say it Ain’t so Joe”

Long time baseball fans will recognize the title  from way back in 1919. It refers to the comment made by a distraught young fan at learning that the great Shoeless Joe Jackson had been involved in ” throwing ” baseball games. It was the infamous Black Sox scandal that hit baseball very hard.

Today, there looms a much more dangerous Joe and one  which surprises me. It is Senator Joe Lieberman, the independent one from Connecticut. The bill  he is proposing, entitled  Protecting Cyberspace as a  National  Asset Act. Lieberman has been pushing for internet control for a while, it seems. This bill  would give the federal government the authority to shut down the internet, the proverbial kill switch, as it were, in response to a  Homeland Security directive.

Lest you think  Lieberman is flying solo, the bill has the stong support of  West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller. He has wondered aloud if maybe it would have been better had ” we never invented the internet.” Better not let algore hear him say that, huh?

Of course, the bottom line , the very scary bottom line at work here is control. The government, at least not yet, cannot control the internet. And it cannot control things like the Bob Etheridge video, for example .

No  president, repeat, no president, whether his  name is Obama or Reagan or even as incorruptible as a Washington needs this kind of control. Perhaps I am being too much of an alarmist. I certainly hope so. Perhaps some folks thought Paul Revere was overdoing it too.

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Congressman Unleashed

Anonymity is like a warm blanket. So said  Vanessa Redgrave,aka Job to Tom Cruise in the 1996 movie Mission Impossible. Betcha that Rep Bob Etheridge  from North Carolina’s second district would pay dearly for a measure of that sort of invisibility  about now.

The 7 term Democrat has been caught  in the full glare of the media spotlight due to an event  that occurred just last week. Here’s a guess that it is his first appearance on Drudge and  he hopes his last. What did the  still part-time farmer and former  Superintendent of  Public Instruction for North Carolina do to garner such attention?

Seem sthat last week he was on his way to a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser when he encountered a couple of college students  with  a video camera  who asked him if he supported  the Obama agenda. He demanded to know who they were and when they declined , he grabbed the camera from one person and grabbed the other by the wrist. He persisted in asking for identification and when they did not resond he grabbed one by the  neck and shoulders, refusing to let go. The individual finaly slipped away.

Today, a  few days later, Etheridge finally released  a statement. ( WTVD, the ABC  affiliate in Raleigh had previously left 11 messages requesting comment.)  He acknowledges having seen the video and expresses his regret for his reaction and apologizes to all involved.

Now what? The aforementioned tv station confirmed with DC metropolitan police that no charges had been filed,  which is quite fortunate for Rep. Etheridge. Was it an a ssault ? Follow the link on Drudge and watch the 1: 11  for yourself.  I watched and was disturbed by Etheridge’s reaction, regardless of whether he was provoked. He had a rather tight grip on the wrist of one individual and refused to let go when asked. This is the same congressman who has encouraged college students to get involved in politics.

Granted, there may have been an element of entrapament, emphasis on maybe. That in no way justifies a physical confrontation. Very curious as to what the  reaction will be inside the Beltway. Any doubt that it will be partisan in nature? Good thing Rush will  return tomorrow. This is right up his alley!

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Much Money

Can one have too much money? I have no clue, since I don’t think I have ever been  in that position. I can remember being told by a prospective employer that they could not afford me , since I made too much. That was somewhat ironic since  I was working a lot of unpaid overtime at the time and we were struggling a bit to make ends meet. But thanks anyway, Tom’s Foods  for the ego boost.

But, now I learn that it may actually be  possible to be making too much money. My source for this knowledge is none other than President Obama himself. I will confess in the interest of full disclosure that I have thought on numerous occasions that this or that celebrity or media  personality ( Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer for starters) or pro athlete or actor made wayyyy  too much money.

But I shall  explore the President’s opinion first before sharing any more of my choices. Just this week the President was speaking in Quincy,Il promoting the  idea of  financial reform over which Congress is itself battling. He made this statement.” Now, what we’re doing, I want to be clear, we’re ( read Democrats here) not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

Of course, there have been posts galore , replete with crowing conservatives saying we’ ve got him. Not so fast, folks. I  believe that there are lots of people who believe that very thing and I suspect that they overwhelmingly vote Democrat. It was actually a rather safe thing for him to say, playing to the base, as it were.

But, just for kicks, wonder what Obama supporters like Eric Schmidt and the Google guys thought of his comment as well as all  his Hollywood  friends ? Believe I have that one covered as well. All he need to do in response  to such a  query would be to place those folks and others like them into the “fairly earned ” category, lumping Rush, Glenn Beck etc in another category indeed. The quote actually reminds me of a phrase I have read several times in regard to baseball teams swapping players’; a trade that benefits both teams.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | economy, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Obama, Carter and James Buchanan

James Buchanan? Yep, the 15th president of these  United States, known for  little more today than being Lincoln’s predecessor and dithering his way through a  sorta  lame 4 year term as the country hurtled towards Civil War. So, what about the linking of these three? The first two have been widely connected by many,including yours truly. I had not seen a link to Buchanan until today.

The article is by David Reilly in Bloomberg and it is just fascinating. Even the title is great.Man up, Obama or Make Way for President Palin. That is also the first time for that last phrase, but I digress. In the interest of full disclosure, financial blogger Eric Salzman made the Buchanan comparison.

One more log on the  fire of criticism. former Virginia governor Douglas  Wilder thinks Obama needs to fire some people, including DNC Chair Time Kaine, also a former Virginia governor. Wilder also thinks a number of the Chicago people need to go. No names, but think Emanuel, Jarrett and Axelrod. What Wilder neglects  to mention is that the President himself is one  of the Chicago people. Alas, yet another digression.

Back on topic for a moment. Reilly even suggests Obama could draw some inspiration in dealing with things from, gasp!!, Richard Nixon, George Bush and even Dick Cheney.

Specifically, learn from Clinton (veto) , don;t fear the banks and clean house; parroting Wilder a bit, bye-bye Emanuel ,Geithner and Summers among others.

In so many words, he tells the President get tough or ……………

I thought it was a great article and will doubtless be ignored.

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Congressman Alan Grayson

There are some members of Congress whose names are familiar to most people. Those would include Pelosi, Murtha, Conyers,Boehner, Kasich, Pence, William( the refrigerator) Jefferson, Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Sheila  Jackson-Lee, to name a few. Some are known because of the position they hold or their  tenure or even their propensity to say nonsensical things. My representative is G K Butterfield, D, NC. As far as I know  Rep Butterfield is not widely known and does not fit into any of the preceding categories.

But, we also have another category.It seems to be occupied by only one person and that person is  Florida Democrat Alan Grayson. He is a first termer  who narrowly won election, 52%-48%. Why, one might ask is Florida’s  historically  Republican 8th district congressman well-known? Perhaps it is because he is trying very hard to live up or down to a title just bestowed on him, “The Biggest Jerk in Congress.”  Human Events  writer  Ross Kaminsky has so anointed  the congressman in an article  from February 3. I don’t know about the title. I was kinda leaning towards Al Franken, myself.

Kaminsky makes some pretty good points though. Grayson shares a profession with John Edwards and ranks as the 12th richest member of Congress and #7 in the House of Representatives. But, alas his wealth has bought him no immunity from foot-in-mouth disease or his  I never saw a Republican I did not want to attack affliction.

He has a particular disdain for Dick Cheney, likening him to a vampire and wondering if Satan did the intro for his  new book. He called Rush a” has-been hypocrite loser.” So many untrue metaphors in one sentence.  Maybe my favorite is this one since it includes me.  Fox News and the Republicans who collaborate with them are the “enemy” of America. Really. I had no idea.

At last count, there were 8 Republicans lines up to challenge Grayson this fall, I certainly hope the good people of Orlando and vicinity can find one to their liking, please.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Obama’s Mentor

Meet professor Chris Edley, the president’s Harvard law school professor. Dr Edley is now Dean of  the law school at the University of California. That’s the school located in Berkeley which should trigger all sorts of liberal connotations. That shall wait for another day. The professor was also a member of  the Clinton and Carter Administrations, so his Democrat bona fides are in order.

He has some interesting things to say about Obama, according to an article in The Times, reported by Giles Whittell. The professor is quite critical of senior White House staff, in particular Rahm Emanuel. Edley thinks that a sense of complacency has set in and staff  is not pushing nearly hard enough to get the President’s programs established. In fact, Edley has already intervened in a similar situation on Obama’s behalf. In the latter days of 2007, the professor was  called in by then Senator Obama  and promptly dismissed poicy positions drawn up as mediocre. He also pushed for Obama to be given more time to tink.One gets the impression that he would quite willing to repeat that intervention.

He even says or seems to say that there has been too much reliance on  Obama’s personality as  a method to persuade and even longs for good ole fashioned LBJ arm twisting. One thing I missed in the article. There seemed to be no  criticism of the President. It is his  staff  that is not serving him as they should. Two quick comments about that. It is Obama’s staff, he picked them- duh!  And is nothing ever the President’s fault? No, of course not. How silly of me, the fault is always with Bush. In fact , that  was re-iterated when the budget was announced. Anything bad about it is due to the last decade of  errors. Wait, was Bush president for a decade? Guess I missed that.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Question for Representative Watt

Mel Watt is a Democrat member of  Congress, representing North Carolina’s 12th District , to which he was first elected in 1992. He was in Charlotte yesterday ( his native city) speaking at a luncheon attended by party loyalists.

In the course of his remarks, Rep Watt found it necessary to defend the Obama administration’s economic strategy from recent criticism. Some of his comments struck me as very interesting. He used the word catastrophe in describing what would have happened to the economy without the President’s economic strategy.

Of course, he blamed the recession on George Bush. That is nothing new. But he used  an interesting word in amplifying his comments. See if you pick it  up in these two quotes. “We are taking the rap for something we didn’t create.” Here is the second quote.  “How can anybody make the case we haven”t  done anything for a problem we inherited?”

In the even you were having difficulty, I underlined the pronoun in question. I could not  but wonder who is the “we” to whom Rep Watt is referring? Gonna make a wild guess and say Democrats. I have just  a bit of a problem with that phraseology. By stating tat we didn’t cause the problem and that we are fixing it, he seems to remove the Democrat controlled Congress from those at fault. He also seems to imply that only Democrats have done anything to fix the recessionary problem.

One more statement that confused me. He said that job losses have slowed. If I understand that, it means the economy is still shedding jobs but at a lower rate. And remember, Rep Watt made his comments while in  Charlotte, located in Mecklenburg County. Said county had an unemployment rate of 11.00% in November, 2009 with neighboring counties having even higher rates. Not to worry, job losses have slowed.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Jobs President or the Jobs Governor?

This coming Wednesday night, the president will deliver his first State of the Union address. Two quick thoughts and then some depth. Once again, I will be thankful for cable television that will allow other viewing options. Secondly, it will not be televised  on Tuesday, so NCIS will not be preëmpted.( Gibbs would not  stand for it, I guess.)

I really thought that as many speeches and television appearances as he has made that the President must have delivered the State of the Union address already. Thought  it must been on Leno or Letterman, guess not.

According to David Axelrod, his political guru, we should expect a feisty, combative tone. The President will not scale back his  agenda, but rather expand it further. ( That is a scary thought.) Get this, he plans to call for   bi-partisan commission to tackle the budget deficit. THat take chutzpah, does it not?  Axelrod also noted that people have fallen behind economically for a decade now and they are growing increasingly frustrated. Stop the presses. If one goes back a decade, who was  president? Why, Bill Clinton, of course. throw in a couple of years of a Democrat controlled Congress and  you have what, a shared responsibility, it would seem.

The speech the President delivered in Ohio may have been a bit of a preview. His main focus seemed was  jobs and all he would do to create them. Guess he wants to a jobs president. That mirrors  a recent statement made by our governor here in North Carolina. Bev Perdue  says she intends to be known as the jobs governor. Hope that works out better this year than last, cause she is certainly has thrown a  pile of incentive money  out there and with less than stellar results. The December unemployment rate in NC was 11.2%. There are only 7 states with higher rates. Hard to be  known as the jobs governor with those numbers.

Gotta wonder whether Perdue or Obama will earn that jobs title. Right now, I think would bet ( if I were a betting fellow) on neither.

January 24, 2010 Posted by | economy, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will Their Tactics Be Successful?

The Senate race in Massachusetts is coming down the homestretch with the election just a couple of days away. Republican Scott Brown has an excellent chance to win over Democrat Martha ( Curt Schilling is a Yankees fan) Coakley. It seems that the Democrats are pulling out all the stops now.

Chuck Schumer has blasted Brown, the Dems have run an unauthorized commercial “borrowing” the UPS advertising slogan and have been told to stop. Bill Clinton is even  linking Coakley’s election and  aid to Haiti. He called them ” two sides of the same coin.” And these are just the politicians talking.

Members of the mainstream media are chiming in as well. Two of the most intriguing/outrageous  examples both work for MSNBC. Our old friend Chris Matthews longs for the day when one could just by enough votes. Shucks, that might still happen. An even better line comes from Ed Schultz who says he would vote 10 times if he lived in Massachusetts. “I’d cheat to keep these bastards out.” Finally, an honest cheater.

All this in a state, uh, commonwealth, where registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans. Almost forgot, the President has visited as well. Who knows if that helped or hurt. If Coakley loses, the Democrats can always blame her for running  a bad campaign or being a weak candidate. But they would not do that, would they?

Guess Tuesday will tell the tale.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments