Washington faces similar issues to Mississippi

by Ed Darling

Published: August 10,2009

O dds and ends, bits and pieces, scattered news topics and a suggestion or two after spending six days in our nation’s capital — not only is it the most powerful city in the world, it’s home for many with a number of the same issues facing us in Mississippi.

  The governing D.C. Council, for the third time this year, just voted to increase cigarette taxes, raising them 50 cents to $2.50 a pack. The gasoline tax was hiked from 20 cents to 23 cents a gallon at the same time.

  …Construction of a $550-million, 1,160-room, public-private Marriott Marquis Hotel across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, first introduced in 1998, appears to have cleared its final hurdle, providing tourism recruiters a significant tool in luring more visitors to the city…

  Visit the White House if you get the chance, especially the West Wing where a peek inside the Oval Office is nothing short of inspiring…essentially unchanged so far from the Bush administration, President Obama can watch his girls enjoy the new playground unit from his spotlessly clean desk…that’s quite a contrast from the nearby cabinet room and Roosevelt Room where significant meetings impacting our country’s history have been held, the private dining room or the always-alert situation room.

  …Priceless artwork adorns many of the key rooms and halls, but equally intriguing are the candid photos that document the life of a president, taken daily and changed weekly…the Rose Garden is as manicured as you’d expect, but the Brady Press Briefing Room is considerably smaller than you might imagine…President Nixon, interestingly, didn’t care for the Oval Office, preferring instead to work from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, steps away from the White House…

  Television networks like Obama because he has been good for ratings…however, long professorial answers, lack of breaking news and prime time monetary losses may soon become a factor…for what it’s worth, Obama turned 48 last Tuesday and bowled a 144 game at Camp David while celebrating with friends there.

  …Plans to build a new Wal-Mart across from the National Park Service’s portion of the historic Wilderness Battlefield where Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first clashed n 1864 remain controversial…the solution may be a 6-month alternate site search…

  There is no way you can see all the Smithsonian Museums, but it would be hard not to take in the National Air and Space, the Natural History or the American History sites…all are incredible and becoming even more so.

  …Whether it’s the Wright Brothers story that changed the world or the Apollo 11 command module that carried humans to the moon, Air and Space is simply fascinating…so too is Natural History, its 18 exhibit halls highlighted by a 90-foot dinosaur, an eight-ton African Bush elephant…and equally unique is American History where The Star Spangled Banner, Julie Child’s kitchen and America on the Move between 1876-1999 are but tiny highlights of an enormous treasure…and the National Aquarium, though not the country’s biggest or best, has enough alligators and sharks to keep your attention…

  Surprisingly, English scientist James Smithson, whose bequeathed estate established the museums, never visited the United States though his remains are now in a crypt in the famous Castle.

   …No surprise that health care reform remains the top Washington topic…Republicans will attack the federal takeover plan while Democrats counter that the GOP is catering to the insurance industry…budgets are tight, too…University of Maryland has cut 175 jobs as part of a plan to trim $37.8 million…

  The process of making money at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is akin to making newspapers, though the quality of its product is superior and its method of proofing far better…still, the 2 percent waste factor is significant when you realize it can print $696 million in replacement bills in a single day…the Newseum may well be the world’s most interactive museum, using 14 galleries and 15 theaters to display sections of the Berlin Wall, historic pages of the past, front pages of the day, tributes to freedom of the press, religion, speech, petition and assembly as it chronicles five centuries of news history and the stories that shared it.   

   …Offices of the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Va. and Manhattan are competing fiercely for the right to prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammad, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and his co-conspirators…trouble for college sports fans in the capital…college information takes an un-Southern backseat to the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards and Mystics…

   And finally, the World War II Memorial is a fitting addition to monuments and sites that add permanent salutes to our past, our heritage…no matter how often you visit, new adventures await each excursion…if you haven’t been, plan now to experience it. If you have, go back, again and again.

 

  Contact MBJ editor and publisher Ed Darling at ed.darling@msbusiness.com or by calling (601) 364-1021.

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