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June 6th, 2008:

My (short) convention experience

Today is Olivia’s fourth birthday, so as pretty much everyone at the convention I talked to knows, I headed back to Houston early today, and thus missed much of the action, including Chelsea Clinton’s keynote address and Rick Noriega’s speech and press conference – you can get video of the former here and text here, with a recording of the latter here. But that’s okay. I went to Austin with three things in mind to do, and I did all three of them: Have fun, meet lots of people, and interview candidates. I’d have liked to do more of the third one, but I’ll get a second chance at some of them in July for Netroots Nation. The ones I did do, look for them to be published over the next two weeks or so.

I met way too many cool people to have any hope of enumerating them, but I’ll give a few shoutouts to State Reps. Rafael Anchia, Trey Martinez-Fischer, Roberto Alonzo, Marc Veasey, and Veronica Gonzalez; fellow bloggers and activists Josh Berthume, Julie Pippert, Susan Shelton, and Steve Whichard; media folk like Elise Hu, Carolyn Barta, and R.G. Ratcliffe; and many familiar faces, also far too numerous to name. By far, this is the best part of the convention experience; had I done nothing else, it would have made the trip worthwhile.

Plenty of my fellow bloggers will be picking up the slack of convention coverage – see BOR, Capitol Annex, The Texas Blue, and the various media pros, like Brandi Grissom, the Trail Blazers, and PoliTex, among others, for all the details.

I’ll try to have my pictures up tomorrow; in the meantime, Muse, Miya, PDiddie, and Charlie have theirs, while Karen Brooks offers her take. Last but not least, can someone spring for Pink Lady to get a pedicure? Thanks.

Blogger caucus a big success

The third biennial Blogger Caucus last night was a ton of fun, and very well attended. I’ll post some pictures later, but for now I can say that we packed the Cedar Door, mostly on the back patio, and a good time was definitely had by all. There were bloggers, officeholders, candidates, assorted convention-goers, a few mainstream media members, and a whole lot of meeting and greeting and drinking. Thanks to everyone who attended, and I look forward to doing this again in 2010.

UPDATE: Racy Mind is first to post about the party.

UPDATE: Elise Hu, Carolyn Barta, McBlogger, Boadicea, and Jobsanger check in as well.

UPDATE: Pictures! I knew The Walker Report would deliver.

Big Time comes to town

I’m afraid I’ll have to miss this event.

Build a Republican campaign for Tom DeLay’s old congressional seat and Dick Cheney will come.

The vice president is scheduled to visit Houston billionaire Dan Duncan’s home in River Oaks on Friday for a private, campaign fundraising event for congressional candidate Pete Olson of Sugar Land and the Texas Republican Party.

Olson is running for the 22nd Congressional District seat held by Democrat Nick Lampson of Stafford. Cheney is no stranger to the local political turf.

When DeLay was entangled in campaign ethics charges in late 2005, Cheney was the main attraction at a fundraising event in Houston for the seasoned Republican lawmaker. After DeLay resigned in 2006, Cheney raised campaign cash here for Republican Shelley Sekula Gibbs in her unsuccessful write-in campaign against Lampson that year.

So he raised money for DeLay, and DeLay resigned in disgrace. He raised money for Shelley Sekula Gibbs, and she lost. Now he’s raising money for Pete Olson. Trifecta, anyone?

Cheney will make no public appearances on his round trip from Washington; his voyage will be billed to the Olson and state campaigns, according to spokeswoman Meghan Mitchell.

Cheney, who has extremely low approval ratings in voter surveys and was criticized in former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan’s new book, is more of an asset for Olson as a money magnet than as a campaigner, University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said.

“When he has a 20 percent approval rating, you don’t shop the guy around,” Murray said. “But presumably, he has some ability to draw out some of the faithful contributors who have been sitting on their wallets until now.”

Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill said, however, “The vice president is very popular among Republicans, and these are Republican donors that he is talking to.”

Yes, he does symbolize the modern-day GOP very well. Have fun talking to yourselves, y’all.

Houston vies for the Women’s Final Four

The folks at the Toyota Center want to bring the Women’s Final Four to Houston.

Toyota Center is among 12 sites under consideration to host the women’s basketball Final Four in 2012-16.

Finalists will be selected in August, and the host cities for the five-year cycle will be announced in November, the NCAA said Wednesday.

The group of cities to submit bids includes seven past hosts: Cleveland (2007), Indianapolis (2005), Kansas City (1998), New Orleans (1991 and 2004), Philadelphia (2000), San Antonio (2002) and Tampa, Fla. (2008).

Cities besides Houston seeking to host for the first time include Dallas; Denver; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tenn.

Houston officials submitted a bid for each of the five years. Toyota Center has a capacity of 18,043 for Rockets games.

“It’s certainly a marquee event in the college landscape,” said Doug Hall, vice president and general manager of Toyota Center.

After finalists are determined in August, NCAA officials will visit each city in September and October.

Each finalist will make a presentation to the Division I women’s basketball committee in November.

We first heard about this back in January. The experience with the Men’s South Regional finals this year was positive, and we’ve got a men’s Final Four coming to town in 2011, so it’s not like the city of Houston is virgin territory for this. And by 2012, most of the light rail expansion, which will include two east-west lines that will stop near the Toyota Center, will be in place as well. So I feel pretty confident we’ll come away with something. I’ll start saving up to buy tickets for the girls and me now.

McCain’s good buddy Phil

I don’t need a reason to vote for Barack Obama against John McCain, but if you do, consider that a McCain presidency would mean putting this guy back in power.

With the U.S. economy now battered by a tsunami of mortgage foreclosures, the $30-billion Bear Stearns Companies bailout and spiking food and energy prices, many congressional leaders and Wall Street analysts are questioning the wisdom of the radical deregulation launched by [former Sen. Phil] Gramm’s legislative package. Financial wizard Warren Buffett has labeled the risky new investment instruments Gramm unleashed “financial weapons of mass destruction.” They have fed the subprime mortgage crisis like an accelerant. While his distracted peers probably finalized their Christmas gift lists, Gramm created what Wall Street analysts now refer to as the “shadow banking system,” an industry that operates outside any government oversight, but, as witnessed by the Bear Stearns debacle, requiring rescue by taxpayers to avert a national economic catastrophe.

While the nation’s investment bankers are paying a heavy price for their unbridled greed (in billions of dollars of write-offs), Gramm has fared quite nicely. He currently serves as a vice president at UBS AG, a colossal, Swiss-owned investment bank, the post, no doubt, a thank you for assiduously looking out for Wall Street interests during his 23 years in public office. Now, with the aid of his longtime friend Arizona Sen. John McCain, Gramm may be looking at a quantum leap in power and influence.

Gramm serves as co-chair of the McCain 2008 presidential campaign. As one of the candidate’s chief economic advisers, he is mentioned as a possible secretary of the treasury in a McCain administration. Their friendship was forged in the Senate as they worked against the Clinton health care proposal, and cemented when McCain served as national chairman of Gramm’s own (ill-fated) 1996 presidential bid.

Scary enough for you? The last thing this country needs is a return tour of governmental duty by Phil Gramm.