Saturday, 10:45am – Breakfast is Over
After spending $16 for a hotel breakfast which exactly matched what I’d have gotten at Denny’s for $4.25 I dined frugally at MacDonald’s today on my way to the convention. It was filling and tasty and made me feel like a real American, by gum!
This is the final day of the Texas State Republican Convention and it’s only a half day. I’m here for about 2 hours and hope to sit in on a couple of interviews and pursue my main goal for the day which is to get hold of a copy of the newly passed party platform and see if it’s really the monstrosity which rumor and the article I cited previously from the Dallas Morning News would lead me to believe. I went to the ultimate source of information – a 16 year old page – and they haven’t heard anything about copies being distributed, so I may have to be more resourceful. The rumors I’ve heard out of the convention elite are that officials outside of the platform committee are actively distancing themselves from the platform and trying to dismiss it as irrelevant, and that can’t be a good sign. Dubiously thought it may be regarded, to outsiders the platform speaks for and represents the party, and if it is as awful as rumors suggest, the party will suffer.
Saturday, 11:57am – An Altered Reality
I spent some time talking to some Ron Paul supporters today and determined that some of them are living in an entirely delusional universe. The line of discussion spreading widely through their camp today is that despite the definitive statement on his campaign website, he has not actually dropped out of the presidential campaign. How you could put an alternative interpretation on the statement “I have decided to end my campaign for the Presidency of the United States” is beyond my comprehension. Not accepting that message is characteristic of the delusional mindset which has drawn so many of these folks into the dark subculture of the John Birch Society. It’s possible for minds to be too open. To survive and function you need to have some sort of rational capacity to filter out fantasy from reality, even when that fantasy appeals strongly to your hopes and dreams.
12:20pm – Local Candidates Interviewed
Kirby Hollingsworth and Bryan Walker who are running for state legislature positions against incumbent Democrats stopped by for a joint interview with the various bloggers. They answered questions about the Trans Texas Corridor (which they are vehemently against) and about education where they have genuine concerns, but no solutions which impressed me that much. Unlike incumbents, challengers are often pretty free with their opinions and willing to say some interesting and honest things you might not see from a more seasoned politician. They became pretty outspoken on tax reform – switching away from property taxes to consumption taxes – and on government reform (easy for someone not yet in government to be outspoken on. It’s also nice that they tend to make themselves much more available to the media, including bloggers, than established political figures. Both candidates seem honest and well-intentioned and deserving of a chance to represent their constituencies.
Saturday, 1:05pm – Who Was Blogging the Con
Before I’m done I ought to recognize some of the bloggers featured at the convention. It was a diverse and surprisingly interesting group, including Greg Aydt, Chris Catrone, Kevin Price, Ken Emmanuel, Thomas Umstattd, someone from Jawa Report and several bloggers from Lonestar Times. Others whose info I didn’t catch also stopped by, including Steve Walker, a Democrat photoblogger who blogged on the Democratic Party convention last week.
Saturday, 1:25pm – A Blogging Pol?
Next up for interviews was west Texas Congressman Mike Conaway, who has only been in Congress for one term, but has established a record as about the most hardline conservative you can possibly imagine on almost every issue. On some issues – like the budget – that’s an unqualified good. But on civil rights issues his record is just abyssmal. He’s just about paving the way for a future police state. He does have a blog, which is an interesting sign of the times.
Saturday, 1:45pm – State Representative Carl Isett
We got a visit in the interview zone from State Representative Carl Isett who represents Lubbock. He’s chair of the very important Sunset Committee which plays a big role in limiting the size of government. It’s one of the best ideas in Texas government. He also sponsored a peculiar bill against hunting from public roadways, but he had to leave quickly so we didn’t get to ask much about that. He may be back later.
Saturday, 2:05pm – State Agriculture
Isset was suddenly replaced by Texas State Agriculture Commission Chairman Todd Staples. Someone else actually beat me to it and asked him one of my biodiesel questions and he gave a good answer, and I then followed up with my other biodiesel question about the TCEQ ruling taking biodiesel off the regular commercial market in Texas and I was pleasantly surprised to discover he not only knew what I was talking about in a general way, but was on top of the specifics and seemed to share my concerns. It’s reassuring to see someone running something who actually knows what he’s talking about.
Saturday, 2:15pm – More With Isset
Rep. Isset came back after the brief visit from the Ag Commissioner. He’s been one of the most accomodating interviewees we’ve had, and I got to ask him a question about his bill opposing the REAL ID, which currently has Texas’ compliance with the federal program on hold at least until the issue of REAL ID being an unfunded mandate is resolved. Seems like a nice guy. Rabidly pro-life, but that’s virtually impossible to get away from with any elected Republican in Texas.
Saturday, 2:30pm – Congressional Candidate Pete Olson
Pete Olson is running to try to fill what used to be Tom Delay’s seat in Congress. He seems like a cookie-cutter GOP Congressman. He’s articulate and has endorsements from prominent figures like Phil Gramm, but he seems too generic and didn’t inspire me, though at this point I may be a bit burnt out on these interviews.
Ok, I’m, heading out from the convention. I’ve left the hall and I’m in the car and before I start driving I’m going to report on a couple of things, because a lot of important news came in at the last minute.
Ron Paul Delegates: After asking about a billion people from the Ron Paul camp, who mostly seemed only to know about their own congressional districts, I think I have a decent idea how many delegates were won by the Paul/Liberty faction. If you didn’t know, each congressional district elects a delegate to the national convention. It looks like the Paul/Liberty faction won 3 delegate seats and between 2 and 5 alternate slots. That’s about a 10% representation, which is more than double the percentage which Paul got in the popular vote, but substantially less than the percentage of the total state delegates who supported Paul. Most of them are looking at this result as disappointing, but I think that winning that many delegates the first time out with the deck stacked against them is a remarkable success. Apparently at least 2 of the Paul/Liberty delegates ran ‘stealth’ campaigns where almost no one knew they were part of the Paul faction, and that seems to have paid off.
The 2008 Texas GOP Platform: Someone found a delegate with a copy of the final platform and I got a chance to look at it, but I didn’t get to keep a copy to critique in detail. My first impression is that it’s the longest damned platform I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s just ridiculously detailed. It even has foreign policy suggestions broken down by country. Some of the really silly stuff apparently got blocked, but most of the homophobic language was preserved along with a bunch of eqully troubling socially conservative stuff. Very little of what the Paul and JBS folks were pushing made it in, which is a bit of a relief. I can’t discuss the platform in any more detail because it’s so long and I only got a glimpse at it, but look for an article on it somewhere down the line.
Thanks and howdy to all the blog readers who stopped by and said hi during the convention. And Liberty supporters – don’t give up on the GOP. I bet we’ll get more and better things done at the next convention.
Oh, by the way…the bellicose Ron Paul supporter mentioned early in this series never showed up to punch me in the nads as promised.