Friday, December 03, 2004

Alamo City Crossfire

My first post is now up at Alamo City Crossfire, the new blog set up to host debates on a variety of topics by a group of San Antonio-based bloggers.
The first topic up for discussion is the death penalty. Alamo City Commando who pilots the Express-News Watch blog will be posting the pro-death penalty argument in the next few days.
So check it out and remember that feedback and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A rare reprieve

Gov. Rick Perry has stopped the execution of Frances Newton that was scheduled for Wednesday evening, agreeing with a rare recommendation from the parole board that she should be temporarily spared from lethal injection for the slayings of her husband and two children.
I don’t know much about the case, but here is some background info.
Newton claims to be innocent and blames the crime on a drug dealer. New tests that can be performed on gun powder residue may shed more light on the case. However, my opposition to the death penalty does not depend on the person’s guilt or innocence. I think it is wrong in either case.

Tonight I will be attending a lecture by Sister Helen Prejean at Travis Park United Methodist Church. Prejean is the nun who inspired the movie “Dead Man Walking” in which she was portrayed by Susan Sarandon. It should be interesting.

Later I will have more to say about the death penalty...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cabinet shuffle

Bush’s first-term cabinet is continuing to drop like flies with the latest being Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. That brings the official total of cabinet vacancies to seven, but there are still question marks hanging over several other positions including Treasury.
Here is the tally so far:


Agriculture - Ann Veneman
Commerce - Don Evans (Carlos Gutierrez)
Education - Rod Paige (Margaret Spellings)
Energy - Spencer Abraham
Homeland Security - Tom Ridge
Justice - John Ashcroft (Alberto Gonzales)
State - Colin Powell (Condoleezza Rice)

Hanging by a thread:

Treasury - John Snow
Health and Human Services - Tommy Thompson

Still here:

Defense - Donald Rumsfeld
Veterans - Anthony Principi
Labor - Elaine Chao
Transportation - Norman Mineta
Interior - Gale Norton
Housing - Alphonso Jackson (took over for Mel Martinez when he ran for the U.S. Senate)

The latest rumor is that former Texas Senator Phil Gramm will replace Snow at Treasury... And so the nightmare continues...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Answers, I’ve got answers

From the comments in the previous post:

From Alan:

Q1: What about politics do you enjoy?

I probably got interested in politics because I enjoyed debate and public speaking when I was in grade school and it seemed like a logical place to go with those skills. But once I went into journalism it was my experience seeing how directly politics impacted people’s lives that really got me hooked.
For example, I wrote a story 12 years ago while working for a small paper in Connecticut about how one of the small towns I was covering - Westbrook - was being dragged into a lawsuit over a hazardous waste cleanup mess in Rhode Island. As I was looking into the story I learned that there was legislation pending in Congress that would have resolved the problem but it was being held up. The citizens of Westbrook had participated in a hazardous waste cleanup a couple of years earlier and had used a private company to collect the waste and take it to a disposal site. But the company that had collected the materials had gone out of business after leaving the materials at a site in Rhode Island that was later declared a toxic waste hazard because of other materials left by large corporate polluters. As it turned out, the bill that would have exempted municipalities that had followed all the proper state and federal procedures from any legal liability had been stalled when my favorite U.S. Senator - Phil Gramm of Texas - had decided to showboat his balanced budget amendment by hijaking the bill and attempting to insert his language into it. So, seven communities in Connecticut were being threatened with huge legal bills because Phil Gramm was using this legislation - which he didn’t care about one way or the other - to try and make an unrelated political point. Facinating stuff. And I was the only one who tied it all together and reported on it.

Q2: What is the single most positive life-changing event in your life?

Without a doubt that would be the birth of my son, Nathan. Suddenly life takes on a whole new meaning.
Before that it would have been meeting my wife, and before that probably my decision to join the Corps at Texas A&M.

Q3: What makes a liberal a liberal?

Interesting question. Most liberals today might better be described as conservatives because they are trying to conserve established programs such as Social Security, Medicare, a progressive income tax, legal abortion, health and safety regulations, the environment and so forth. Meanwhile conservatives would more aptly be described as radicals today because of their efforts to change, alter or eliminate those same programs.
Liberals are often tied to the idea of big government. This is because our bleeding hearts are always forcing us to stand up for the little guy who has been trampled under foot by the dominant majority. And big government is the best and most effective means for protecting the rights of those minorities. If we had left it all up to state’s rights advocates we would still have pockets of legalized segregation to this day.
Folks who want to bash big governement should consider the biggest and most liberal government entity we have today - the U.S. military. We don’t pretend to try and protect ourselves with 50 different state militias. And we don’t do it on the cheap, either. If our military can be the best in the world by taking this course, then why not our education system or our health care system?

From Robert:

(B).1. Who *really* wears the pants in the family?

That would be the guy in the No. 4 diapers. He definitely calls the shots these days.

(B).2. What Third World country would you like to visit, and why?

That would have been a tough one before Thanksgiving, but now it is easy. Brazil.
After seeing the pictures my friends Sean and Arlene took during their recent trip down there it is definitely a place I would like to visit. First, Rio de Janeiro is beautiful with the beach that the Girl from Impanema still frequents. But then further inland you can find one of the great wonders of the world - a series of magnficent waterfalls that makes the Niagra Falls in New York look tiny by comparison.

(B).3. What satisfies you most about writing?

A well-turned phrase has always delighted me. There is something very satisfying about putting thoughts and ideas down on paper in such a manner that makes other people want to remember it. In fact, I can think of few things in this life more important than imparting your thoughts and ideas to other people. If you are not communicating then you are not living life to its fullest.
Plus I guess I like seeing my work in print after its done. It’s that small ego trip that makes up for the pitifully small paychecks that we writers get.