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Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Posts Tagged ‘Washington

morning cram [corruptistan edition]

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As the US tightens its financial belt, some lawmakers are calling for more scrutiny of the budgets the government is boosting abroad.

NPR reports the calls renew a focus on spending in Afghanistan where corruption allegations are rampant and little is being done.

KENTUCKY~ Police are suspicious after a fire damages a trailer believed to have been where a Paducah woman was murdered a few months back. The state Appeals Court restarts a local self-defense? case. High water has closed a length of KY-1507 in Trigg County. Tax collections are up 5% and you have 3 extra days to file this year. A journalism guild honors anti-slavery publisher Cassius Clay.

TENNESSEE~ Henry’s Police Chief is in stable (but still critical) condition after a SUV vs logging truck wreck yesterday. Tennessee Highway Patrol officials want a broader name.

Kentucky’s Senators Respond to State of the Union

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Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul both delivered a response to last night’s State of the Union address. If you missed the President’s speech, NPR has the transcript.

Click below for the comments from our state’s Republican Senators.


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Angela Hatton

January 26, 2011 at 11:00 am

Good Read – His Excellency: George Washington

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His Excellency: George Washington
by Joseph J. Ellis

Buy this book on Amazon. 
(Your purchase supports WKMS!)

Product Description:
Here is the impetuous young officer whose miraculous survival in combat half-convinced him that he could not be killed. Here is the free-spending landowner whose debts to English merchants instilled him with a prickly resentment of imperial power. We see the general who lost more battles than he won and the reluctant president who tried to float above the partisan feuding of his cabinet. His Excellency is a magnificent work, indispensable to an understanding not only of its subject but also of the nation he brought into being.

Todd Hill says:

“An unvarnished and unsentimental look at our first president. Fine history and a must for those who need a better understanding of the separation of powers and why the Articles of Confederation were destined to fail. Applicable today? Yes. People waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags need to read this history and reflect.”

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.

Written by Matt Markgraf

January 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

morning cram [crowdsourcing edition]

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“A type of information gathering  called crowdsourcing could have a big impact on Republicans’ fall agenda.”

~NPR logs on two websites seeking input.

KENTUCKY~ Paducah approves its Executive Inn demolition contract, buys $100k in software upgrades and proposes to buy more Greenway Trail property. A committee is still working on a plan to merge the Paducah/McCracken County governments. One of Fort Campbell’s last major units prep to leave for Afghanistan. 2 Hopkinsville Community College professors are now Kellogg-certified specialists. The Commonwealth is (again) among Race to the Top finalists and ranks 40th in the nation for overall child well-being.

TENNESSEE~ A Clarksville Police detective is suspended over Facebook photos. Publix breaks ground at the former Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville.

ILLINOIS~ Honeywell/union worker talks derail. Officials think their Race to the Top chances are better this time around.

More Pictures from the Road

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by Todd Hatton

A while back, I promised some photos from earlier in our trip (the interesting ones, anyway), so here they are.

This first snapshot is from the balcony of our third floor motel room looking out over the Howard Johnson’s parking lot.  Angela said this view reminded her of Darbyshire.  My impressions were a bit less profound, but no less impressed.

Now that’s what I call a view.

The next two were taken as we approached Monticello in a cold mist that was really a dense fog, then around back of the house.

Angela and I then trudged through the wet cold to Thomas Jefferson’s resting place.

After we arrived in Washington, one of the first places we visited was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  I’m sure you’ll recognize the spacecraft in this picture:

And that is the actual U.S.S. Enterprise, the one Roddenberry’s cameras ran past to create the illusion of the starship flying past.  Nerd Heaven.

And this one is of Kentucky’s pillar at the Washington Mall’s latest monument, the World War II Memorial:

This photo is one of my favorites from the trip.  It’s a view of Washington from President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s gravesite in front of Arlington House.  Quite easy to see why, when standing here in October of 1963, Kennedy said that he could stay there forever.  And it’s truly fitting that he is buried there today.

The last one is a bit of an oddity.  It’s from the Columbus memorial that sits in front of Washington’s Union Station.  The sculptures are by prominent artist Lorado Taft, who was commissioned to create these in 1912.  On Christoper Columbus’ left is a bearded Caucasian sitting around a stone pillar.  Sitting around a similar stone pillar on Columbus’ right is a Native American, one who might be familiar to those of us from Paducah, Kentucky…

Now, compare the above to this picture.

That’s the Chief Paduke monument on Jefferson Street in Paducah.  From 1909.  Well, if you’re gonna steal, might as well steal from yourself.

Written by thefrontblog

February 1, 2010 at 10:50 am

At Last, the Next to Last Washington Post

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By Todd Hatton

By the time anyone reads this, Angela and I will have returned from our vacation to Washington, D.C.  We survived the 795 trip from D.C., through Maryland and West Virginia, then across the length of the Commonwealth to return safe, sound, and very, very tired.

So, if you happened to read my last post from the road, I’ll catch you up.

By Wednesday morning, we were already hitting what I like to call National Historic Fatigue.  Washington is a town full to bursting with history, gargantuan, multi-storey marble and granite history.  And by the time you’ve seen your umpteenth marble edifice or National Historic Site, they tend to blur together.  Their rapid-fire momentousness numbs the brain and before you know it, it’s “oh look, the Apollo 11 command module.  Oh look, the red-sequined shoes Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz. <yawn>  Oh look, the Hope Diamond.  Oh look, etc.”

We gamely kept to our rather loose schedule of places and things to see, but we slowed the pace.  The fewer forced marches, the better.

On Wednesday morning, Angela and I split up.  She went to the Botanical Gardens while I headed off to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Angela had toured it before, and was understandably reluctant to do it again.  I felt obligated however, so I went.

I’m not really sure what to say about it.  Part of me thinks the less said, the better.  After all, how can words measure the magnitude of the horrors documented within the museum’s walls?

Another part wants to list every name lost to the crematoria, every place, home to Jews for centuries, destroyed by sheer mechanical hatred.

When Angela and I got back together, we took the train to Arlington National Cemetery.  We visited the Kennedy gravesites and located the final resting place of one of my literary heroes, Mr. Samuel D. Hammett of Maryland.  If you’re among the uninitiated, he wrote a book called The Maltese Falcon.

After a rather grim day, we headed back to the B&B and put a hurtin’ on a bottle of good Riesling, some excellent cheese, and a pair of lemon curd bars.

At 10 am, Thursday, we took a tour of Ford’s Theater on 10th Street NW.  As grim as its subject was, I was riveted to every exhibit: the suit Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was shot, Booth’s Spencer carbine, and the derringer he used to kill the President.

I did think it was either a genius of design or a remarkable coincidence that when one stood before the tiny murder weapon, an image of John Wilkes Booth stared back, reflected from a photograph on the wall behind.  A little spooky, really.

Upstairs, we looked into the Presidential Box:

The rocking chair in the foreground is where President Lincoln sat.  It’s not the original however, that one is in a museum in Chicago, Illinois.  The small cane chair next to it is original.  It’s the same one Mary Todd Lincoln sat in, close to her husband, on that fateful night.

The museum has kept the theater as it looked on April 14th, 1865:

And the thing that struck me most was how small the box was.  The theater overall was not especially big, which is surprising considering that on the night Lincoln was shot, there were about 17 hundred people in the audience, most of whom would end up on the street.

Our next stop was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  Believe me, nothing makes you more grateful we live in the 21st century than seeing what was running around millions of years ago.  Take for example the remains of this charming little fish:

May I introduce to you Carcharocles megalodon, or at least its jaws.  The fish attached to these teeth could grow up to 67 feet in length and scientists say, or rather hope, this shark became extinct some one and a half million years ago.  From their mouths to G-d’s ears, I say.

Then it was off to the font of all, or most, public radio, the Washington headquarters of National Public Radio and a tour from NPR Station Rep Gemma Hooley.

First, let me say that I have come to absolutely adore Gemma, who took the time to give a couple of public radio grunts the fifty cent tour of Where It All Happens.  She also let us observe about 20 or so minutes of All Things Considered, with Ann Taylor bustling back and forth between the director and the news reader’s booth, and Robert Siegel not 20 feet away doing what he does every afternoon.  We didn’t get the chance to hobnob, but it was inspiring and instructive to see these talented and extremely hard-working people in action.  I got tired just watching them.

For our last day, Angela and I headed over to the Chevy Chase area of D.C. to visit Politics and Prose, the second-best bookstore in the United States after The Strand in New York.  I’ve now come to the conclusion that a visit to Washington is incomplete without a trip to Politics and Prose.

We wrapped up our last day with a wonderful dinner at Mai Thai’s with a relative of Angela’s, Reuters Congressional correspondent Susan Cornwell.  Susan is a fascinating person, and an incredibly intelligent one as well.  I know who I’ll be angling to hang out with at that next family reunion.

Saturday morning, we began what turned out to be the arduous journey back through Maryland and West Virginia.  It was the kind of drive that made me wish I had flown.  And I hate flying.  But, the roads magically cleared when we crossed over into Kentucky near Ashland and we were heck-bent for leather all the way back to Murray.

Dang, it’s good to be home.

Written by thefrontblog

February 1, 2010 at 9:41 am

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At Least the Sun’s Kinda Out

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By Todd Hatton

In the off chance that anyone’s been curious as to why Angela and myself have been absent from the airwaves, well, we’re in Washington, D.C., both for a little R&R before the next fundraiser, and for our third anniversary.

And, just in case you’re thinking, “Well, how, uh, romantic.  Washington.  In January,” keep in mind that Angela and I are history, literature, and culture nerds.  Therefore, we are in history, literature, and culture-nerd heaven.

Just a few of the highlights of our week so far:

1)      The view from our motel room in Lexington, VA.  Angela said it reminded her of Darbyshire, in England.  Lacking that comparison, it reminded me of Tolkien’s Shire.  (See, “Lit Nerd!”)

2)      Little red flashing lights on Interstate 64.  They’re imbedded into the shoulders of all four lanes.   I had no idea what they were for until we got up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for a visit to Jefferson’s Monticello.  Apparently, it’s not uncommon to drive into clouds up there.  Clouds. Or at least, fogs so heavy they appear to be clouds.  So, those lights are there to keep you from driving off of an impossibly high cliff to your doom.  Wow.  Hats off to the Virginia Department of Highways!

3)      Monticello in the Mist.  That all-encompassing fog on the Interstate settled down into a mist that seemed to pull Jefferson’s home out of time.  Normally, you can see the University of Virginia from Jefferson’s front door, but that day (Sunday), nothing but fog.  Beautiful and ingenious house.

4)      The Cardozo Guest House.  Gorgeous room and I promise I’ll post pictures very, very soon.

5)      The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Nerd.  Heaven.

6)      The Smithsonian Museum of American History.  This is where I’ll go, if I’m good, when I die…

7)      The Lincoln Memorial.  Profound experience.  In fact, the picture I’ll take with me for the rest of my days is the small Latina woman who came up to the threshold of the monument, bowed her head, and crossed herself.  Then she went inside.

8)      The Newseum.  This is where journalists go to remind themselves how crucial their jobs are.  Angela told me after we left that she saw one Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph that in her words was “soul-killing.”  It’s the photo of an eastern African child, starving and struggling to reach a UN food station.  Lurking in the background, waiting, is a vulture.  I prefer to see it as the ultimate call to action.  If nothing else, the photo screams, “Do Something!”  I can only hope and pray that child is alive and healthy.

9)      The Rivalry at Ford’s Theatre.  This ranks as one of the most ghoulish, poignant, and thought-provoking of my experiences in D.C. so far.  The play is about the rivalry between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.  The actor playing Lincoln was eerie, looking just like him and sounding like I imagine Lincoln sounded like.  All within feet of the box where Lincoln was assassinated.

That’s it so far.  We’re off to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today.  Watch this space!

Written by Todd Hatton

January 27, 2010 at 8:16 am

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