Friday, July 16, 2004

On Vacation

I’m leaving tomorrow for a week-long vacation in Chicago. The hotel has wireless and broadband Internet access, but since I don’t have a laptop it doesn’t do me any good. So I will most likely be offline for the duration. Should be a fun trip, especially with an 11-month old in tow.

Blood Saves

My brother-in-law, who works for the blood bank in Houston, sent me this link to their new web site. It’s a pretty cool site and hopefully it will encourage more people to donate blood.
I especially like their new TV commercials.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Where are all of the conservative bloggers?

Oh, I know the web is chock full of ‘em. I mean the ones I first butted heads with here in Texas when I first set up this blog a year and a half ago.

When I first ventured out into the blogosphere in January 2003, the first folks I ran into were the guys at Burnt Orange Report and Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff. They’re still there and going strong, but they are also liberal Democrats like me. What I am concerned about are all the conservative Republicans I first ran into who have been dropping like flies recently. What’s going on??

* My fellow San Antonian Mark Harden at InSane Antonio hasn’t updated his blog since May 17. I suspect that he is just distraught by the near certainty of a Kerry victory in November and just can’t bring himself to write about it anymore.

* Then there is Courtney, also of San Antonio, who has been on an extended hiatus since Nov. 28, 2003.

* Beldar of BeldarBlog hasn’t been heard from since April 19.

* Kevin Whited, who runs the popular PubliusTX Weblog, recently shut down his more politically oriented site Reductio Ad Absurdum for “maintenance and redesign.”

* And Owen Courreges, who sparred with me on a number of occasions over the Republican mid-decade re-redistricting power grab, has stopped updating his self-titled blog now that he is too busy being a regular contributor at Chronically Biased, which also features Kevin and Rob Booth of Slightly Rough. I also noticed recently that Owen is listed as a contributor at the newly launched Redstate which is trying to be the Republican response to the mighty Daily Kos.

* Then I was saddened to learn recently that Joe Kelley who runs The Sake Of Argument site has been hospitalized with pneumonia and spinal meningitis.

That leaves Owen and Jed at Boots and Sabers which is still going strong. However, Jed, the Texas-based half, has lately been a bit pre-occupied with law school leaving it to the more prolific Owen, who is based in Wisconsin, to do most of the posting. And Owen naturally focuses most of his attention on politics in Wisconsin.

So Texas would seem to have a shortage of conservative bloggers. Go figure.

Remembering Ken Schmidt

I was shocked to learn the other day that Ken Schmidt died over the weekend as a result of a kayaking accident. Ken was the chief photographer at the Kerrville Daily Times when I worked there in the mid-1990s. He was also the long-time staff photographer for the Kerrville Folk Festival.

Ken was without a doubt the best photographer I ever worked with in my 15-year career as a journalist. Flipping through my portfolio of stories from that period I am amazed at how his photos stand out above all the rest. Every reporter wanted Ken to take the photos for their story. He could make a shot of a county commissioners meeting look interesting. He had an eye for framing a shot and/or picking out one person in a room and catching an expression on their face that would tell much of the story.

But Ken was all about action. He preferred to cover stories that were exciting - car wrecks, fires, sporting events, and so forth. I always felt privileged when I could get Ken to go out and shoot a photo for one of my stories. When I interviewed George W. Bush during his first run for governor, Ken took so many good shots that they decided to run a spread of them accompanying my story. There were many times when I would be working on a feature story and Ken would come out of the dark room and show me the photo he took for the story and I would think ‘Wow, now I have to write a piece that will live up to this.’

When I knew Ken, he was one of the most fun-loving people I had ever met. He was always planning his next outing or telling stories of his most recent adventure. I take some solace in the fact that he died doing something that he loved. He certainly packed more good times into his 41 years than most people do who live to be 100.

When most people think about dying they imagine spending eternity in paradise. But I imagine that if Ken had the choice he would choose to be reincarnated so that he could take another go around at life because Ken’s attitude was that he was already living in paradise.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Why do these conservatives hate America???

The AP has a story today about a group of big-shot conservatives who meet on a regular basis in Washington, D.C.
Normally, I suppose, they just blow kisses at the Bush administration and so it is generally not very newsworthy. Plus the meetings are private and closed to the media. But this time the key speaker had some nasty things to say about the Bush team’s little misadventure in Iraq...

“Nearly 150 conservatives listened in silence recently as a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations ticked off a litany of missteps in Iraq by the Bush White House.
"This war is not going well," said Stefan Halper, a deputy assistant secretary of state under President Reagan.
"It's costing us a lot of money, isolating us from our allies and friends," said Halper, who gave $1,000 to George W. Bush's campaign and more than $83,000 to other GOP causes in 2000. "This is not the cakewalk the neoconservatives predicted. We were not greeted with flowers in the streets."

Note the guy’s No.1 complaint: ”It’s costing us a lot of money!”

I guess only wimpy liberals complain about things like the deaths of more than 850 U.S. troops.

But this is the part of the story I liked the best...

“The marquee speaker sent by the administration was Eric Ciliberti, who spent several weeks in Iraq this year and told the audience of broad progress being made there.
Ciliberti complained to the group that those in the news media were not reporting the positive developments out of Iraq. Ciliberti did not return several calls late in the past week from a reporter seeking his account.”

So here is an administration official who will tell this group of privileged conservatives meeting in private all about the positive developments in Iraq but he won’t return phone calls from reporters seeking his account of events. And then he has the nerve to whine that the media is not reporting about the positive developments in Iraq. How typical.