I haven’t blogged for two months. Might as well put it out there and confess it straight up. So when the indefatigable Tabitha Hale of FreedomWorks contacted me and assured me I was still welcome to attend BlogCon 2011 (Twitter hashtagged as #BlogCon11), I was humbled and gratefully accepted the invitation.
I’ve attended enough of these events now that, riveting as many of the presentations are, I simply can’t recount all of the minutiae and do it justice. Or more aptly, I could, but can’t summon the requisite mental tenacity. The following, however, constitutes what I took away from a glorious couple of days.
Andrew Breitbart was not present for #BlogCon11, but he was ably represented by a sizable contingent of his “Bigs” retinue, including Kurt Schlichter and “Hot Wife” Irina Moises, Big Journalism editor, radio host and CNN contributor Dana Loesch and her husband, Chris, BreitbartTV editor and Stage Right Show host Larry O’Connor and his inimitably lovely producer, Meredith Dake, and Big Hollywood editor John Nolte.
Every one of these people brim with ideas and passion, but that wouldn’t matter if they were anxious to hoard the intellectual property they’ve garnered, rather than sharing it with the rest of us. To a man/woman, however, they are all invested not only in their own success, but the ongoing prosperity of the conservative cause. As John Nolte put it, Andrew Breitbart is committed to the idea of building stars through the
vehicles of his “Big” Internet publications. I’ll editorialize and note that he is succeeding spectacularly.
I have been acquainted with Tom and Deneen Borelli of Project 21 and the National Public Policy Center for a while now. They were featured speakers at the mini-BlogCon event FreedomWorks sponsored in Indianapolis this last March. For those who have not met her, Deneen is a black conservative. I had not, however, heard DeNeen tell her life story up to this point. She only spoke for about 15 minutes right before lunch on
Saturday. But she received the only standing ovation I witnessed during the whole conference. In her own words, “I have been called a house n—-r, a sellout and an Uncle Tom. But I will not back down in this fight for freedom.” Deneen’s new book hits stores in March. Let’s send it to #1 on
the New York Times bestseller list.
My new friend, Kira Davis, is another African-American conservative woman who affirms the fact that truth and opportunity trump race-baiting and blather any day of the week. Kira’s inspiring story of her journey from Left to Right is another narrative that merits a wide audience. In her case, a conservative father-in-law refused to stop asking her probing questions about exactly why she didn’t like George Bush, what the Democratic Party had done for African-Americans, etc. Kira saw the light and is a radiantly eloquent evangelist for the free-market movement.
On another note entirely…I have admired CNBC/Reuters contributor Jim Pethokoukis for some time now because of his astute analysis and timely commentary on free-market economics and current events. I enjoyed his Saturday morning presentation…at least the part for which
I was in my seat. Pethokoukis had probably been speaking for about 5 minutes when I felt a wave of dizziness sweep over me. I didn’t pay it much heed and quaffed a few more sips of coffee. Then the second spasm hit…and I really thought I might pitch over into my seatmate’s lap.
I was spooked enough that I turned promptly to said seatmate, my friend Bethany (Murphy) Mandel of “Commentary” magazine, and asked her to follow me out to the hall where I collapsed into an easy chair. It became abundantly obvious that I was suffering from the same altitude-induced ailment that I had noticed was afflicting a significant number of my New Media colleagues. Bethany plied me with Gatorade, as well as some applesauce and a banana, after extricating the vital statistics on what nourishment I had consumed that day (which was nil, although I had already imbibed an astounding amount of caffeine).
Bethany’s kindness notwithstanding, I struggled for much of the day Saturday with a raging headache, shortness of breath and dehydration. I have traveled to Colorado countless times throughout my life, but I don’t recall ever struggling with anything of this sort on prior occasions. I don’t care to ever endure it again, either.
Our location in Denver was only a couple of blocks from the 16th Street Mall. Good eating abounded, of course, and we took advantage of it. Friday night, I enjoyed a 12 oz. New York Strip at Marlowe’s, along with Kimberly Haney (@KimberlyHaney on Twitter) and her daughter, along with Jeff Schreiber of America’s Right (@AmericasRight), Jack Nischik (@Mr_Fastbucks), and my friends April Gregory (@AprilDGregory) and
Julie Borowski (@JulieBorowski). The atmosphere and cuisine at Marlowe’s are highly recommended, but be warned that it is more pricey than Outback or Applebees.
On Saturday night, about twice as large a group of us gathered at Pho’s Vietnamese Grill. Jeff Schreiber, April Gregory and Jack Nischik were all back, as well as “Bigs” contributor Mandy Nagy (@Liberty_Chick) and guy pal Scott Jacobs (@AblativMeatshld), John Hawkins of Right Wing News (@johnhawkinsrwn), Amelia Hamilton (@Amelia Hammy, author of a lovely little book you must buy for your kids for Christmas: ), David Hauptmann (aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), Cord Blomquist (@CordBlomquist…a GOP webmaster extraordinaire whose knowledge on all things tech-related knows no earthly limits), Colorado native and libertarian Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) and filmmaker Matt Perdie of @PerdieFilms. Pho’s offers very reasonably priced Vietnamese fare that I would describe as hearty and tasty, though not extraordinarily flavorful unless you aren’t shy about adding your own herbs and spices, which I’m not.
It was good to see Indiana’s own State Treasurer Richard Mourdock making his case at #BlogCon11 as he wages a bid to become Indiana’s next U.S. Senator. Richard is campaigning to upset 35-year GOP veteran Senator Dick Lugar in the May primary next year. As FreedomWorks’ Alex Pappas articulated, Lugar has been around long enough to vote both to bail out New York City in the ’70s and to bail out the banks in the 2000s. He has been part of the problem in Washington, D.C. for a long time and has not been called “Obama’s favorite Republican” without good cause. Mourdock needs your support. Please consider showing it tangibly here.
Perhaps my most cherished memory, however, came at the conclusion of the day yesterday. About 30 of us were crammed into Stephen Kruiser’s suite on the 17th floor of the Crowne Plaza and it was getting on towards midnight when Matt Perdie raised his voice slightly to the dozen or so of us hunkered down around him. His question to us all: “What animates you every day and keeps you involved in the cause?” For the next 20-30 minutes, I listened to my comrades for freedom powerfully articulate the various reasons that keep them fighting in the arena of ideas. I will never forget it. My friend Kathleen McKinley, in her understated, yet confident style, reiterated her belief that we are engaged in an ideological
struggle that pits right against wrong, truth against falsehood and good against evil.
And at the end of the day, this is what #BlogCon11 meant to me. As I sit here on the plane ride home, tears well in my eyes and a lump warms my throat as I realize anew that I am not alone. This has been a year of intense upheaval for me and my family that has included a career change I did not anticipate. But the three days in Denver affirmed my knowledge that I’m a part of a supportive community of activists and friends that are
there to cheer me on and lift me up when I realize again I can’t do it alone. We aren’t just an alliance of political convenience. We’re a family. And I couldn’t be more delighted to know I’m still a member in good standing.
P.S. I know what you’re thinking! What about #OccupyDenver? Exactly…That merits its own post later on…