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Archive for July 2008

Bad bridges? Still far too few fixes

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In the coming week, I’m going to drive about 1,200 miles through four states. During that journey, I’ll cross bridges over several significant rivers, including the Hudson and Connecticut rivers. The bridges I’ll cross are older than I am — and I’m no spring chicken.

I’ll drive over — and under — numerous highway overpasses. Most of them, too, will be older than I am. Since Aug. 1, 2007, I’m more aware of wondering about the condition of those bridges and overpasses that carry me to and from here and there. Are they safe?

A year ago, the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during evening rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring hundreds more.

Politicians everywhere immediately called for (harrumph, harrumph) the inspection of and repairs to the nation’s thousands and thousands of deteriorating bridges.

One year later, how much has been accomplished to allay travelers’ fears of another bridge collapse? Diddley squat.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 30, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Free’ speech at Beijing Olympics decidedly costly

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When the Beijing Olympics begin Aug. 8, the ability to speak publicly will depend on what you say — or what you pay.

The Olympics Games have always been one of the largest possible megaphones for espousing a cause — either political or commercial. Terrorists have used. Athletes have used it. Host nations have used it. And certainly, sellers of goods and services have used it. Be it boycott, black power or big business, the Olympics offers maximum volume for any message.

This year the early gold medal of the Politicize-the-Games Sweepstakes has gone to the Free Tibet sloganeers, although their gamesmanship was hardly challenged. The Olympic torch relay made an exceptionally easy — and highly visible through media — target for protesters. Much of the pre-Games press has focused on how well or poorly host nation China will bury pro-Tibet protests or encourage pro-China, home-team support.

But there’s far more at issue regarding speech in Beijing than proclamations for or against Tibet.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 27, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

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He is convinced that with the help of God he will win.

— Svetozar Vujacic, a lawyer for Radovan Karadzic, who was “twice indicted for genocide for the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995 and for the 43-month siege of Sarajevo,” on his plans to conduct his own defense at the Hague tribunal; July 23.

Always be prepared for demonstrators, even if the local organization tells you that there will not be any. It is the responsibility of the Lead Advance to have in place an effective plan for dealing with demonstrators.

— from the Presidential Advance Manual dated October 2002 used to prepare locations for visits by President Bush; emphasis added.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

GOP to Dems: Solve energy crisis by next week

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Next up in the Republican “blame the Dems for flawed energy policy” spin machine (drum roll, please) — H.R. 6566, the American Energy Act, which the House Republican Conference Web site says is all about “Reducing the Price at the Pump through an ‘All of the Above’ Energy Strategy.”

On Wednesday, 84 members of the Republican caucus gathered to support a packaged solution to the nation’s energy woes drafted by prime sponsor House minority leader Rep. John Boehner. And they demanded that Democrats allow an up-or-down vote on the bill before the August recess begins.

Howzat for Republican provision of careful, thoughtful deliberation on perhaps the most vexing issue the nation faces (a few wars notwithstanding)?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 24, 2008 at 4:19 pm

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Bad highways? Blame politics, technology, new driving habits

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It’s July of 2023, and, just 20 years after President Bush decided to spend $1.2 billion to develop hydrogen fuel-cell technologies for vehicles, you’ve just picked up your finally-ready-for-prime-time luxury BMW Hydrogen 7. Your neighbors, stuck with the crappy next-generation of GM’s electric but ill-fated EV-1, will be jealous.

You’re eager to get that water-emissions-only Beemer out on the open road and see what it’ll do. But the road won’t be that open any more, and the road’s lousy condition is likely to chew up your umpteen-thousand-dollar green-mobile’s undercarriage. The road just plain sucks because politicians haven’t been able to stop themselves from screwing around with the federal highway trust fund. That leaves the ride bumpy and, no doubt, unsafe.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

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Our economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience.

— President Bush at a press conference; July 16.

We’re spending like a drunken sailor.

— Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., predicting the federal budget deficit would double this year; according to Manu Raju of The Hill newspaper, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that, for the first nine months of fiscal 2008, the government ran up a $268 billion deficit, $148 billion more the same period last year; July 17.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 18, 2008 at 10:38 am

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Quotabull

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I’ll approach Obama with fearless honesty. He’s a liberal. I oppose liberals. That’s all that’s involved here.

Rush Limbaugh on presidential candidate Barack Obama; Mr. Limbaugh has renewed his contract with Premiere Radio Networks and Clear Channel Radio, which will pay him more than $400 million; Mr. Limbaugh once referred to Sen Obama and actor Halle Berry as “Halfrican American” on the Jan. 24, 2007, broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show; July 6.

We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline.

— former senator Phil Gramm, one of presidential candidate John McCain’s top economic advisers, likening the nation’s economic problems to a “mental recession“; July 10.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 11, 2008 at 10:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized