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March 20th, 2004:

That so-called liberal media

Good grief. I had no idea about this. Read it and be amazed.

Hoops update

Well, I got 22 out of a possible 32 in the first round of the NCAAs, putting me a solid 8th out of 9 in the BAN Hoops Contest. My sincere thanks to Jack for doing worse than I did. The WestPhoenix Regional was the least kind to me – I was only 4 for 8 there. Oh, well. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, we’re gonna take it one day at a time and give 110%, we’re just happy to be here…did I forget anything?

UPDATE: The definition of a mixed blessing during March Madness is when a team from your favorite conference wins an upset that shreds one of your brackets. Congrats to Nevada for manhandling Gonzaga. At least I wasn’t in any danger of contending in this tournament anyway. Maybe Trent Johnson ought to be the hot coaching property coming out of the WAC this year instead of Billy Gillespie. Don’t anyone tell Texas A&M that, though.

UPDATE: Et tu, Stanford? At least I only had Gonzaga losing in the Elite Eight. Stanford was my pick to win it all. It’s official: I suck.

CD 32 tightening up

Byron points to this NYT article which notes that the race between Martin Frost and Pete Sessions in the new 32nd CD is tightening up, at least according to Congressional Quarterly.

Eight months before Election Day, the two candidates have raised more than $2.3 million between them. Similar attention is being paid to the other unusual incumbent-against-incumbent race in the state created by redistricting, which was promoted by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay with the expectation it could produce seven more GOP seats in Congress this fall. That contest is in West Texas between Charles W. Stenholm, like Frost a Democrat in the House since 1979, and freshman Republican Randy Neugebauer. (Story, p. 11)

“I will be campaigning in the district every waking moment I am not here in Washington,” Frost said. “If Tom DeLay wants these districts so badly he is going to have to win them the old-fashioned way, at the ballot box.”

The intensity of Frost’s campaign in recent weeks has led Congressional Quarterly to now rate the contest as Leans Republican, meaning Sessions appears to have an edge but the race could go either way. CQ had rated it Republican Favored, which meant a Frost win would be a major upset.

That’s all a matter of opinion, of course – as with any contest, all that will ultimately matter is the final score. Nonetheless, this is encouraging news, and I think with sufficient attention will draw a lot of fundraising that will help all of the endangered Democrats.

Just a thought here: It was mighty nice of the GOP to draw a childs-play district for State Rep. Kenny Marchant, who faces the plucky but unknown Gary Page in the new 24th CD. One wonders why a four-term incumbent like Sessions was left with the short straw and the real possibility of being ousted. Oh, I know, Frost was gonna run somewhere (though Jim Turner chose not to), and surely Sessions will get all the help he wants from DeLay’s moneymaking machine. But still. Why’d Marchant rate and Sessions didn’t? Makes you wonder.

Anyway. Keep your eye on this one. The better Frost does, the better the Democrats overall ought to do.

They liked us! They really (mostly) liked us!

About 70% of Super Bowl visitors polled said they would recommend the city to others based on their experiences during their visit.

Jordy Tollett, the president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he commissioned the survey to gauge “what people think we are, what they like about us and what we should tout.”

The Super Bowl Image Study, conducted by TouchPoll Solutions of Kingwood, questioned 820 non-Houstonians at Bush Intercontinental Airport and hotels around the city.

Poll results show visitors’ opinions of Houston were generally favorable to begin with and increased by 10 percentage points during their stay. After their stay, 30 percent of those polled said Houston was very attractive and an equal share rated it somewhat attractive.

Roughly the same percentages said their overall experience in Houston left them very satisfied or somewhat satisfied. Asked if they would recommend the city to others, 71 percent said yes and 8 percent no, with the rest undecided.

“It was a tremendous turnaround,” said TouchPoll owner Bobby Hollis.

Hollis attributes that turnaround to Houstonians’ friendliness and the depth of organized events offered in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

The poll found that visitors tended to be upper-income, diverse and well-traveled, Hollis said. Most said they take two to seven vacation trips a year.

Three of five respondents were male, and two of three were visiting Houston for the first time.

About 40 percent of those polled said they rode the MetroRail line. Although they were not asked to rate its performance, two of three said mobility in Houston was equal to, or better than, that of most cities.

“There were numerous verbal responses praising the friendliness of Houstonians and the cleanliness of the downtown area,” the report’s introduction said.

Activities most cited by the visitors were dining (47 percent) and shopping (41 percent). Only 6 percent made it to the beach, and 12 percent visited a museum.

Sounds pretty good to me. The print issue mentions things like a lack of cabs in the Galleria and the general spread-out-ness of the Super Bowl events as some of the negative things cited.

One can only speculate what visitors might have said had the Super Bowl been played in midsummer. The impact of the climate may be better gauged when Major League Baseball holds its All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park in July. Tollett said he wants TouchPoll to conduct another survey then.

I’ve wondered the same thing myself. Let’s hope most of those visitors stay downtown and discover the air-conditioned tunnel system.