Archive for the ‘Mississippi’ Category

Republican Sparring Starts Amid “Honesty About Eight Years of Failure”

November 11, 2008

By Adam Nagourney
The New York Times 

Above: Newt Gingrich, in New York on Monday, said Republicans should be honest “about the level of failure for the past eight years.” Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times
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The competition to fill the vacuum left by Senator John McCain’s defeat — and by the unpopularity of President Bush as he prepares to leave office — will be on full display at a Republican Governors Association meeting beginning Wednesday in Miami.
The session will showcase a roster of governors positioning themselves as leaders or future presidential candidates, including Sarah Palin of Alaska, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Charlie Crist of Florida, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

At the same time, Republicans representing diverse views about the party’s direction are preparing to fight for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee

, a prominent post when the party is out of the White House. The current chairman, Mike Duncan, has signaled that he wants to stay on after his term expires in January, but he is facing challenges from leaders in Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina, among other states.
 

 

 

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CBS Says Obama Won First Debate

September 27, 2008

UPDATED WITH FINAL NUMBERS CBS News and Knowledge Networks conducted a nationally representative poll of approximately 500 uncommitted voters reacting to the debate in the minutes after it happened.

Thirty-nine percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-four percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-seven percent saw it as a draw.

Section Front

Forty-six percent of uncommitted voters said their opinion of Obama got better tonight. Thirty-two percent said their opinion of McCain got better.

Sixty-six percent of uncommitted voters think Obama would make the right decisions about the economy. Forty-two percent think McCain would.

Forty-eight percent of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. Fifty-six percent think McCain would.

We will have a full report on the poll later on. Uncommitted voters are those who don’t yet know who they will vote for, or who have chosen a candidate but may still change their minds.

The margin of sampling error could be plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/09/26/politics
/horserace/entry4482028.shtml

Why Obama Won The First Debate

September 27, 2008

By Toby Harnden
The Telegraph (UK)

It was a very close run thing but the night goes to Barack Obama on points. John McCain came out swinging and landed some good punches but Obama never got rattled and jabbed back consistently. Although Obama is the front runner overall he was the underdog in this debate because the main subject was foreign policy.

After a bad week, McCain needed a game changer and this wasn’t it. Obama, on the other hand, needed to hold his own on McCain’s subject turf and he achieved that. The biggest worry about Obama is his readiness to lead and be commander-in-chief. Tonight, he may well have edged over that threshold.

 
McCain performed very well indeed and put Obama on the defensive several times – but he was unlucky in that Obama was on form too (he had some off days against Hillary Clinton) and ….

Read the rest:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/Toby_Harnden

In First Debate, Candidates Quarrel On Iraq, Express Optimism for Bailout

September 27, 2008

By Michael D. Shear and Shailagh Murray
The Washington Times

OXFORD, Miss., Sept. 26 — Sen. Barack Obama sharply criticized Sen. John McCain’s judgment on the war in Iraq, repeatedly telling his presidential rival “you were wrong” to rush the nation into battle, directly challenging the Republican nominee on foreign policy as the two met in their first debate of the general-election season.

McCain aggressively pushed back, accusing Obama of failing to understand that a new approach employed by Gen. David H. Petraeus in Iraq would lead to victory and mocking him as naive for his willingness to meet with some of the world’s most brutal leaders.

John McCain and Barack Obama

Candidates battle through sharp exchanges during first debate.

With 40 days remaining before Election Day and the U.S. economy teetering, the two clashed on taxes, energy policy, Russian aggression in Georgia and the threat posed by Iran. Neither made a serious mistake in an encounter that capped one of the most chaotic weeks of the campaign, nor was either able to claim a decisive victory.

The debate itself almost did not happen. McCain’s dramatic midweek announcement that he was suspending his campaign to focus on the nation’s financial crisis left the face-off in limbo as both candidates rushed back to Washington on Thursday and plunged themselves into the acrimonious negotiations over a $700 billion economic bailout.

On Friday, McCain reversed his pledge to stay in Washington until those negotiations concluded. And once on stage at the University of Mississippi, it was the exchanges about how to keep the United States safe that put the starkest differences between the two men on display.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/09/26
/AR2008092601944.html?hpid=topnews

Obama, McCain argue over war, taxes in 1st debate

September 27, 2008

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer

OXFORD, Miss. – John McCain accused Barack Obama of compiling “the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate” Friday night as the two rivals clashed over taxes, spending, the war in Iraq and more in an intense first debate of the White House campaign. “Mostly that’s just me opposing George Bush‘s wrong-headed policies,” shot back the Democrat.
Presidential debate 
AP
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Obama said his Republican rival has been a loyal supporter of the unpopular president, adding that the current economic crisis is “a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain.”

The two men were polite but pointed as they debated at close quarters for 90 minutes on the University of Mississippi campus.

McCain accused his younger rival of an “incredible thing of voting to cut off funds for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” a reference to legislation that cleared the Senate more than a year ago.

Obama disputed that, saying he had opposed funding in a bill that presented a “blank check” to the Pentagon while McCain had opposed money in legislation that included a timetable for troop withdrawal.

Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2002, before he was a member of Congress, while McCain voted in the Senate to authorize the war.

“You were wrong” on Iraq, Obama repeated three times in succession. “John, you like to pretend the war began in 2007.”

McCain replied that Obama has refused to acknowledge the success of the troop buildup in Iraq that McCain recommended and Bush announced more than a year ago.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/presidential_
debate;_ylt=AvzoBLp0M1iw8TLW.XzbMZ.s0NUE

McCain and Obama attending debate even without bailout deal

September 26, 2008

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Republican John McCain agreed to attend the first presidential debate Friday night even though Congress doesn’t have a bailout deal, reversing an earlier decision to delay the event until Washington had taken action to address the crisis.

With less than 10 hours until the debate was scheduled to start, the McCain campaign announced that the Arizona senator would travel to the University of Mississippi. The campaign said that afterward McCain would return to Washington to continue working on the financial crisis.

Obama had always planned to attend the debate and was aboard his plane preparing to take off when McCain’s announcement was made. McCain quickly moved to his own private aircraft and headed South with his wife and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife, Judith, on board.

The action contradicted the position McCain had taken Wednesday, when he announced, “I’m directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.”

McCain had also said he would suspend all campaign activities, but in reality the campaign just shifted to Washington while the work of trying to win the election went on.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cand
idates_debate;_ylt=AoDh6Y
D1w0PYG8wcxo0QlMys0NUE

The debate is on; McCain agrees to GO!

September 26, 2008

The suspense is over!  John McCain will go!  He’ll go to Mississippi and enage the great One: Barack Obama!  Will the Lion slay the Christian?  Stay tuned!By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

 

WASHINGTON – Republican John McCain agreed to attend the first presidential debate Friday night even though Congress doesn’t have a bailout deal, reversing an earlier decision to delay the event until Washington had taken action to address the crisis.

U.S. presidential nominees Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator ...

With less than 10 hours until the debate was scheduled to start, the McCain campaign announced that the Arizona senator would travel to the University of Mississippi. The campaign said that afterward McCain would return to Washington to continue working on the financial crisis.

Obama had always planned to attend the debate and was aboard his plane preparing to take off when McCain’s announcement was made. McCain quickly moved to his own private aircraft and headed South with his wife and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife, Judith, on board.

The action contradicted the position McCain had taken Wednesday, when he announced, “I’m directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.”

McCain had also said he would suspend all campaign activities, but in reality the campaign just shifted to Washington while the work of trying to win the election went on.

McCain had taken a gamble with the move, trying to appear above politics and as a leader on an issue that had overshadowed the presidential campaign and given him trouble. But Democratic rival Barack Obama had not bowed to McCain’s challenge, and instead questioned why the Republican nominee couldn’t handle two things at once — the debate and involvement in the bailout negotiations.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/candidates_debate;_ylt=AvPDB2v
crltbLcHv3BS6v0Ss0NUE

Inspiration from American History: James Buchanan Eads

July 20, 2007

By John E. Carey
First Published in The Washington Times
January 31, 2004

When the deans of American colleges of engineering were asked in the early 20th century to name the top five engineers of all time, James Buchanan Eads was among them; the list also included Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison.

He may have been the finest self-educated engineer of all time. Yet Eads also made himself a skilled fund-raiser, diver and inventor and an able leader.
James Buchanan Eads 
James Buchanan Eads

The Eads family was so poor during the 1820s in St. Louis that young James, named for his mother’s cousin who would later become president, had to quit school to sell apples in the street. He then was hired as a clerk in a dry-goods store. The owner gave him access to his personal library, thus stirring the mind and imagination of a gifted young man.

Eads’ lifelong relationship with the mighty Mississippi began in 1838, when he joined the crew of a riverboat. Realizing how many boiler-driven vessels were subject to fires or explosions, Eads entered the salvage business four years later. He was not interested in salvaging ships, however. He laid claim to the valuable cargoes strewn across the floor of the great river and made himself a millionaire.

Eads pioneered a diving bell that permitted divers to walk on the bottom of the Mississippi, and he was the first to risk using his invention, a perilous undertaking. He also became an expert in Mississippi River currents, silt and sand.

In April 1861, as the Civil War began, both the Union Army and Navy scrambled to find a way to fortify the Mississippi and penetrate the Confederacy. Military leaders summoned Eads to Washington, and in August, after months of study and negotiation, he signed a contract to design and build seven ironclad gunboats.

Eads’ first four ironclads sailed downstream to Cairo, Ill., in November 1861 under the command of the U.S. Navy. He had produced a novel kind of American warship in fewer than 100 days.

In February 1862, under the command of Navy Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, Eads’ gunboats bombarded and contributed to the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in a joint attack with troops led by Ulysses S. Grant, then a little-known brigadier general.

On Feb. 4 and 5, Grant landed his divisions in two locations near Fort Henry, a Confederate earthen fort on the Tennessee River with outdated guns. One division went ashore on the east bank of the Tennessee River to prevent the Confederate garrison’s escape. The second division landed on the Kentucky side to occupy the high ground, which would ensure the fort’s fall.

As Foote’s seven gunboats began bombarding the fort, Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, commander of the garrison, realized that it would be only a matter of time before Fort Henry fell. Leaving the artillery in the fort to hold off the Union fleet, he withdrew nearly all his men to Fort Donelson, 10 miles away.

Foote slowly sailed the Eads gunboats closer and closer to Fort Henry, maintaining a tremendous barrage. Returning to the fort, Tilghman found the gunboats within 400 yards. The vessels continued lobbing shells into his fortifications, and Tilghman capitulated.

Fort Henry’s fall opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and shipping as far as Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Ten days later at Fort Donelson, Confederate Gen. Simon Buckner realized his force was beaten by Grant and the gunboats. He requested surrender terms. “No terms except an immediate and unconditional surrender can be accepted,” Grant famously replied.

After the fall of Donelson, the two major water routes in the Confederate west, bounded by the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, became Union highways for movement of troops and materiel. These were the first major Union victories of the war. Eads’ gunboats played a key role.

The gunboats were put to work bombarding the most crucial remaining Confederate stronghold: Vicksburg, Miss. The city fell on July 4, 1863. The combined Army-Navy operation, the first of its kind by U.S. military forces, opened the Mississippi to the sole use of Union forces.

After the war, St. Louis fell behind Chicago as a commercial center in the Midwest. Chicago enjoyed easy east and west railway service, while St. Louis was cut off by the Mississippi River. The city fathers in St. Louis decided they needed a railroad bridge spanning the river. Eads gladly created a design. As chief engineer of the St. Louis Bridge Co., he would become instrumental in building the bridge and reinvigorating the economy of St. Louis.

Eads created a design to compete with a proven method of bridge-building submitted by Brooklyn Bridge designer John Roebling. The Eads plan called for a span longer than any existing bridge, with a triple arch founded on bedrock. The design called for one arch 520 feet long and two arches of 502 feet. If built, it would become the world’s first major steel bridge.

Eads’ critics sent his plan to a board of 27 leading civil engineers for review. The group unanimously condemned it. Eads had stolen a march, so to speak, however, and already had begun construction on the west abutment, where bedrock was just 47 feet below the high-water line. Eads used compressed-air pneumatic caissons to build the west and east piers and the east abutment. He wasn’t the first American builder to use pneumatic techniques, but he would be the first to attempt such a deep penetration using compressed air.

The drawing for the east abutment called for penetration to 136 feet below high water. Unfortunately, the job produced a first – the introduction of “caisson disease,” also called “the bends.” This agony affected 80 of the crew’s 352 sandhogs, and 15 died. Eads again showed his mental acuity, however, developing slower ascent methods and limiting the men’s time at depth to lessen the effects of the bends.

To prevent obstruction of river traffic during construction, Eads developed new methods of bridge building. He used a tieback system that introduced cantilevering to American bridge construction. The bridge’s three arches each consisted of four 18-inch steel tubes composed of steel staves bound together by steel hoops. The massive structure was completed in 1874 at a cost of more than $10 million. The bridge supported two rail lines, with a 54-foot-wide pedestrian promenade above.

Even before Eads had finished his bridge in St. Louis, he became intrigued by another engineering challenge. At New Orleans, every time the “bar” – the blockage of silt and sand in the delta – made passage into and out of the Gulf of Mexico impossible, ships lay at anchor and moored to piers, filled with idle crewmen and stevedores. Commerce came to a standstill. Often, more than 60 ships sat near New Orleans for days while waiting to cross the bar. New Orleans fell to eighth on the list of most productive American port cities.

Eads said he would find a solution, but he didn’t know when he started that he would have to fight the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers every step of the way.

He went to work on one of the largest engineering challenges in the United States. He pledged that he would find a way to remove the silt from the Mississippi River delta without using clumsy and costly dredging boats. He proposed a method to use nature and the river’s own flow to “cleanse” the water.

Eads proposed to Congress that he would create a channel 28 feet deep and 300 feet wide through the river’s southwestern pass. He also wanted a contract to maintain the passage for 10 years. He offered to finance the work himself until his channel reached 20 feet. After that, he wanted $1 million with incremental $1 million payments for each additional foot of depth produced until the channel reached 28 feet. His maintenance fee would then be $500,000 a year for 10 years.

Eads said he could deepen the channels of the Mississippi by narrowing and restricting the flow of the water. The Corps of Engineers, led by Gen. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, wanted no part of Eads’ scheme. The corps wanted to dredge and build a canal.

Eads had clashed with Humphreys before, over a proposal to build a canal around his bridge in St. Louis. The end of that dispute had come easily when Eads called on his old friend President Grant. The president had sided with Eads, killing Humphreys’ plan.

Eads went to work raising the money for his Mississippi delta project. He hired the Grand Republic, one of the most luxurious steamers of her day. He planned to wine and dine investors and politicians while showing them that his initial jetties were, in fact, deepening the channel. Humphreys sent his own man from the Corps of Engineers, armed with facts and figures disputing every claim Eads made. Humphreys successfully undermined Eads’ fund-raising effort.

In the end, Eads narrowed the south pass of the Mississippi in 1875 by building jetties.

The restricted flow increased the speed of the river, flushing sediment into the gulf. Within eight months, the channel at the sandbar deepened to 13 feet. By August 1876, the channel was 20 feet deep. By 1879, the South Pass Channel was 300 feet wide and 30 feet deep. The force of the river completely removed the sandbar.

The final project of Eads’ enormously productive career – a maritime link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – never came to fruition. (His audacious accomplishments are recounted in detail in John M. Barry’s fine book “Rising Tide.”) Eads had proposed not a canal, but a railway to carry oceangoing ships in cradles and huge flat cars across Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The Mexican government endorsed the plan and, largely because of Eads’ reputation and record of success, the House voted for the idea, but the Senate defeated the bill.

Had he lived a few more years, we might today be able to see huge ships crossing the Sierra Madre del Sur by rail. We’ll never be sure whether Eads might have been successful with this wild idea. He had never failed before, though.

John Carey is a retired U.S. Navy Commander and the President of International Defense Consultants, Inc.  He is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.