I'm still working to assimilate all that I took in over the three days of Netroots Nation
. This was the second of the three big conventions that I'll be attending this summer, and the second one in the Austin Convention Center after the Texas Democratic Convention in June. The size of the conference with some 2000 attendees was a good fit for the Convention Center, even with the building's odd layout and traffic flow.
Certainly, the highlight of the conference was the appearance of Vice President Gore and Speaker Pelosi on Saturday morning. Gore spoke of his challenge that we commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity
from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years. This is an ambitious goal. In response to a question, he clarified that he thought that nuclear energy might play a part in this, but only a small part as nuclear plants come in only one size - extra-large, being both very expensive and requiring 12 years to get on-line. Pelosi gave an impressive presentation, particularly as a large segment of the audience was hostile to her due to the recent passage of the FISA bill
and general disappointment with the Congress. She pinned the principal blame for FISA on the Senate and the Democratic Senators that had supported that bill.
The other impressive presentation was Lawrence Lessig's
keynote speech. Lessig spoke in favor of Change Congress
, a bi-partisan group aimed at ending corruption in Congress. Following on a presentation by Al Gore
earlier this year, Lessig defined the problem as a need to solve the democracy crisis, a need to end the subtle corruption in Congress and restore the institution's effectiveness. Lessig suggested that one way for us to express our commitment to change would be to add 9 cents to each donation to a Congressional candidate as a comment on Congress' nine percent approval rating in recent polls.
The conference also featured a conversation with former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman
. Siegelman spoke of his travails as the target of a federal investigation that involved enough conflicts of interest and abuses of public power to make Tom Delay envious. It was truly a portrait of the abuse of public power and the public trust. Siegelman identified Karl Rove as the architect of his persecution and urged the attendees to go to ContemptforRove.com
where they could send a message to urge Congress to hold Rove accountable.
One of the overall themes throughout the keynote presentations and the panel discussions was the need for change in the Senate. Luckily, there is something that we can do about that.
Overall, it was a great conference. I attended panels on healthcare, science policy
, space policy
, and the progressive movement in Texas.
They also had a track of progressive media. I only caught a collection of shorts
, including a particularly interesting one with interviews with urban beekeepers
. Finally, there were only two troll sightings, and the only real missing was the lack of any panel on transportation policy.