Twitter Personality of the Week #48: 10 Questions for Ericka Andersen (@ErickaAndersen)

With a fair amount of regularity, I like to turn the Twitter Personality spotlight back to my own state and profile a fellow Hoosier. It has
been a few months since I did so; I think the last selection to hail from Indiana was Fingers Malloy. This week, we feature a Hoosier-turned-DC-resident who has made Indiana conservatives proud by making a positive difference in the nation’s capital: Ericka Andersen.

With my Dad and sister.

I first met Ericka last fall when she was working for the GOP House Leadership team, led at the time by Indiana’s most well-known
Congressman, Mike Pence. In early September, Ericka convened a gathering  right in the Capitol Building of bloggers from across the country that served as the official opening event for the first annual BlogCon, sponsored by FreedomWorks. I was favorably impressed as I observed her professional demeanor firsthand, since she was responsible for arranging the logistics of the event.

I have continued to be pleased with Ericka’s comprehension of the increasingly integral role that social media plays in the conservative
movement. Since moving over to the Heritage Foundation a few months ago, she has maintained outreach to New Media outlets around the country. But Ericka isn’t simply an observer of the blogging scene; she is a bona fide participant who understands the medium in a way only those immersed in it can.

There is a decent chance, though, that none of the above would matter a whole lot if Ericka wasn’t a luminously kind and gracious woman. But she is. I’ve found Ericka Andersen to be that radiant type of person you always enjoy getting to talk to for a few minutes…still brimming with a sense of wonder and joy, rather than hardened by the cynicism that can be prevalent in Washington. Keep reading and I believe you’ll concur with my assessment.

10 Questions for Ericka Andersen

Ericka and Rick...who occupies a signature role in her life!

1. It’s about time I profiled someone else from Indiana! I know you’re an IU alumnus, but did you grow up in the state?

Actually, I was born in Witchita, Kansas, where my parents lived for a short period of time when they were young. I only lived there for a
year and then moved to my parents’ home town of Bloomington, Indiana – where I remained until the end of college in 2005!

2. What led you to DC and eventually to the point where you worked on Capitol Hill for a few years?

After college, I wasn’t sure what career path I would take. I majored in Journalism, but just didn’t see myself becoming a typical reporter. It was at this time that I was becoming interested in conservative politics –  mostly reading and the Drudge
Report daily.  I had to make a decision about starting a real career, so I applied for an internship in DC with the National Journalism Center and was placed at the Washington Examiner. Little did I know how far NJC would take me. They have an amazing class of alumni and are so well respected within the conservative movement. My stint there really helped introduced me to lots of influential and important players. Eventually, I landed a job reporting at Human Events – a place where I continued to rub shoulders with so many well respected conservative leaders. I had the opportunity to interview Senators and Presidential candidates.  It was a dream come true. After that, I took the chance to work for a conservative startup publication called Culture11, which was spearheaded by Bill Bennett. In fact, Bennett interviewed me for my job and I was ecstatic to start on this new project. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. I moved on to Capitol Hill after that – getting a blessed job in the House Republican Conference under Chairman Mike Pence.

With Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, while serving the House GOP Leadership team..

I initially applied for the job  because I really respected Pence and because he was from Indiana. It was there that my career in social media and communications began to take off a bit more. I had a wonderful experience on the Hill and really enjoyed working so closely with Members of Congress and being inside all the excitement.

3. Tell us about your current role at the Heritage Foundation.

I’m currently on the online communications team at Heritage. I work primarily with our social media – Facebook & Twitter  — to develop online strategy and deliver the Heritage message in an effective and wide reaching way. I keep up with what’s happening in the new media world and try to come up with ideas we can use to get our message out. I also help do blogger outreach with the same folks (and new ones being added) I’ve been working with for several years. The great thing about my jobs has been that I continue working for the same cause, so I’m able to keep my contacts fresh and utilize them everywhere I go. It’s been great keeping up those relationships and working with folks who are truly online activists. I also write for our blog, The Foundry, and generally try to come up with new ways to increase our traffic, increase reader interaction and make the Foundry the best product we can.

Two good friends!

4. If you were asked for 3 formative influences (aside from your parents) who have led to the development of your conservative worldview, who would they be?

This is a tough one for me because my life’s influences aren’t typically politically related. Stories I’ve seen over the years of entrepreneurs in my own family (there are a lot of them!) struggling to build a business and finding success in that have had a strong influence on me. I’ve always been inspired by the writings of great conservative thinkers like Buckley, Bill Bennett, people like Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan, of course. All the great success stories in life – of people that overcame hardship, disabilities, overwhelming setbacks and mere impossibilities – those are all cases for conservatism, in my opinion. They are about hard work, self reliance, determination, pride, confidence, strength.  These attributes, of course, are still valued today, but the encouragement to reach for them has  been dulled by the idea that the government can and will take care of many things for you. There are people that need help, there are safety nets that must be in place…there is a right place for government, but the culture of apathy and dependence has really begun to take over. I think pride in oneself, in one’s work, has been really lost rather recently. That’s a little off topic but…I could go on!

5. You’ve recently started a very attractive food blog with lots of tasty-looking recipes that I’m eager to try! What led to this decision?

Thanks for mentioning my new blog! It’s actually food and fitness, as I also write about my marathon training and nutrition. One of my
good friends started one and I began reading hers, which linked to other food/fitness blogs. Well, I became addicted to reading these things! I enjoyed reading about women whose lives were balanced, full and focused on health, fitness and good food.  It was like I
discovered an entire community of people I could connect with in a way I never had. I kind of felt like I was discovering the Internet for the first time! So I took a blog that I had previously used for personal political postings and made into an apolitical food and fitness blog, where I try new recipes and basically share the details of my life. That’s everything from Birthday parties and vacations to book reviews, personal essays and more.

6. Have you always been an avid fitness fanatic and do you run every day or do you skip a morning every once in a while?

In Chicago to run the Marathon there.

I have always been interested in keeping fit, but started running in 2003.  I always kept it up, but in 2006, I started thinking I might like to run a marathon. It seemed daunting, but not impossible. When my sister ran her first marathon in 2007, the urge got stronger – so, I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. I did not train very well for this race, but was still able to run it in a decent time. Since then, I’ve run two other marathons and will be running 2 more later this year. I do not run everyday….my legs get tired! I run 3-4 days a week and usually, just one of those is over 6 miles. Marathon training keeps you on a good schedule so your legs do not get too worn out.
Right now, long Saturday runs are reaching over 16 miles, so it’s getting tough! After my marathons this year, I plan to take a month off from running.

7. Please share some of your favorites in the following pastimes, that you’ve come to enjoy: Books, Movies, Musical Artists, FOODS (and throw a few random categories in here, too!)

I’m a book fanatic…I read everything: fiction, nonfiction, biographies, chick lit, classics. I just finished both Anna Karenina and the latest Jennifer Weiner book. I’m in a book club with a bunch of girls and we have a blast!

I love country music….it is so unique from any other kind of music and I just love the community you see in the country music sphere. They seem so much less pretentious and more down to earth than any other industry. Their music tells a story and it just makes me so happy – and nostalgic. My high school and college years were filled with some awesome nights, all to a soundtrack of Hank Williams Jr, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Montgomery Gentry and more.

Everyone who knows me knows my all time favorite thing is dark chocolate. I love it more than probably any other food. If you put dark
chocolate and peanut butter together, I’m in heaven. I have a major sweet tooth and probably eat chocolate every single day. I also love sweet potatoes!

Traveling in Lebanon.

I have a passion for traveling. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Africa, India, Europe, Venezuela, Lebanon and more. I am intrigued by other parts of the world and inspired by what I’ve seen though. I believe it has given me a deeper perspective about the world and an appreciation for other cultures.

8. You’re still young, but you’ve been in Washington,  DC, long enough to witness some history up close! What do you call to mind when you think of both the trials and joys that come with participation in the conservative movement?

It can be frustrating because conservative opinions are stereotyped SO much in the news. Not to focus too much on the “liberal media”
but…when they zero in on issues like abortion and gay rights, it takes away from the WIDE ARRAY of issues conservatives care about. Social issues get too much focus in the media, in my opinion. Also, just the stereotypes that come from the label “conservative,” in general. In DC, you can go places where when people hear you are a Republican, and it’s like you are a foreign creature. Often, I’ve heard, “you’re not so bad for a Republican.” Or people have been surprised that I’m nice and have compassion for others! The
misconceptions are endless. People who think conservatives want to get rid of EVERY kind of government help or are simply completely ignorant to the long term goals or reasons behind why some conservative policies seem harsh. There’s a big picture that most people don’t take the time to identify.

9. Are you a person of faith and should religious conviction play a role in politics?

I am a Christian. Religious conviction will always play some role in the decisions people make in politics, whether they think they are or not. I don’t think policy or legislation should be guided by a certain religion, though. In fact, I really keep my politics separate from my
religion completely because I don’t think they mix.  Though I will say I dislike when liberals use the Bible verses about feeding the poor and hungry as an excuse for the federal government “taking care” of everyone. I believe that verse applies to individuals and God is commanding us as individuals to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, etc. To me, it is so clear that Jesus is speaking to each person, not to some vague, faceless government. I don’t think Jesus would have affiliated with a political party though there is a need for good people to be involved in politics and ensure that they are protecting the important principles of this country.

10. What would you like to be doing in 10 years?

In 10 years, I would like to have a family and be raising my kids – as well as continue being involved in causes for which I’m passionate. I will always write so I’d love to be a stay at home mom and do freelance writing or have a job where I can work from home doing something that I think matters to the world as a whole.


Twitter Personality of the Week #47: 10 Questions for Rafe ________ (@Diggrbiii)

I’m not sure when the elusive provocateur with the ubiquitous presence whom we call @Diggrbiii burst onto the Twitter scene. He was impossible to ignore or underestimate, due to the reckless abandon with which he pursued the perennial offenders on the Left, such as Eric Boehlert and Oliver Willis of Media Matters for America. His zeal to take the fight to their ilk was so immense it couldn’t fail to impress and galvanize others.

You’ll notice right away that in contrast to the typical “10 Questions” feature, there are no photos this time around. I don’t even know @Diggrbiii’s last name. He has well-founded reasons for the secretive nature of his identity, which are enumerated below. But @Diggrbiii is definitely the social type, and if you talk to him on Twitter, chances are he’ll dash off a reply. So if you want to know all the pertinent info on him that he keeps obscured, start getting acquainted now.

The characteristic that I appreciate most about @Diggrbiii is that he trains his rhetorical powder where it is most effective: on progressives and their deeply flawed ideology. He doesn’t waste resources on the circular firing squad that, at times, paralyzes the Right. Also, as gifted as he is at scornful rejoinders, props are due @Diggrbiii for his ability to marshal scholarly sources when needed in defense of his arguments. One need only peruse his regular Big Journalism contributions in order to discern that he not only comedically, but capably skewers the Left.

There are many with whom I enjoy interacting on Twitter, but only a handful I would characterize as “must follows.” @Diggrbiii is on that list.

10 Questions for Rafe _______ (@Diggrbiii)

1. You have made a name for yourself on Twitter by absolutely taking it to the liberals, relentlessly skewering their lack of logic. Has this bold, in-your-face approach always characterized your general demeanor?

You might be surprised by this, but in “real life,” I’m very laid back and while I’m definitely opinionated, I’m not very confrontational. I will usually only talk politics with people I know are conservatives because I’d rather not make my friends who aren’t conservatives feel stupid. I do have a couple of friends who are Democrats (no raging liberals, mind you – they’re moderates) whom I tease about their awful decision to vote for Obama, but for the most part, I steer clear of getting in their faces about it – it’s really hard sometimes, too. I’m pretty sure they regret it now. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a Republican. They also know I’m a no-nonsense kind of guy so there’s an unwritten rule that if you don’t want to get an earful, don’t bring Lefty talking points to the table because I know them already.

So the short answer is no. My “bold, in-your-face approach” does not characterize my general demeanor.

2. Many may not know this, but you’re an American of Hispanic descent. As conservatives, we don’t go out of our way to highlight ethnicity, but we do celebrate the diversity within our ranks. Does your heritage impact your ideology?

Big time. But it isn’t my heritage in the sense that I’m Hispanic. It’s my specific background and where my parents are from. Both my parents were born in the Dominican Republic and lived there until their early teens. They didn’t meet until after they came here to the United States. If you know about the DR, you know that back in the fifties, it was ruled by a dictator (Rafael Trujillo). My parents were both young children when he was assassinated (by a group that included a member of a family one of my aunts on my mother’s side married into, by the way).  Trujillo left that country devastated and that’s why my parents’ families left to come to the US. Even though the dictator was gone, the corruption in the government remained and the situation was very unstable – still is, to a certain extent.

I was told of the horrors of the regime at an early age. Because of that, my parents unknowingly instilled in me a healthy skepticism of big, intrusive government. This is why I said that it wasn’t my ethnic heritage that impacted my ideology. I think I would have been the same if my parents were from some old Soviet bloc country instead of the Dominican Republic.

Also, while my parents definitely cherished their country of origin and the culture of their youth, they came to the US and became Americans. Not hyphenated American, just Americans. There were never any conflicting loyalties in my house.  We were Americans living in the greatest country in the history of mankind. So as a kid, when I coupled the thought of what my parents lived through with my being born here in the US, my sense of patriotism (and good fortune) was very strong and my belief in limited government and individual freedom defined me. I felt lucky to be born here. I never took it for granted.

3. Where do you hail from now and where did you spend your growing up years?

I currently live in Northern Virginia, but I was born and raised in New York City. I was born in Manhattan (Spanish Harlem, natch), we moved to the Bronx briefly and when I was school aged we moved to Queens. We moved around a lot because the cheapest places to live were also high crime areas. Each move was a step towards a better neighborhood as my father moved up in his career and eventually started his own company.

I spent the longest stretch of time in Jamaica, Queens, living there from 2nd grade to 8th grade – private Catholic school, too. It was an interesting childhood. We did all the normal things city kids do. We played stickball and touch football in the streets and basketball at the park. We’d go on subway rides for no reason, and we got into graffiti and breaking (we never called it “break dancing”). We’d have egg wars with other blocks in the neighborhood on Halloween, and we’d ransack abandoned cars that car thieves would dump at the park up the street. The usual stuff. Then there were the occasional quarter-mile sprints I would do while running away from older kids trying to steal the McDonald’s dinner I was sent to get. Or the all too frequent trips around the neighborhood with my father to get the bike that some thug knocked me off of and rode away with. Good times. All joking aside, it wasn’t that bad. This was back in the days
when fights were settled with fists primarily. Guns and knives didn’t start to become the norm until I was in high school and we were already living in a
better neighborhood –Woodside. Then it was smooth sailing (said partially in jest – those who know Woodside know what I’m talking about). High school –also Catholic – was four years of me staying out of major trouble, playing baseball, soccer and volleyball, and getting accepted to college (Penn State) in another state so I could break free of the NYC trap. Too many older kids I knew had never even left the city and it showed. I wasn’t going to be one of those guys.

I chuckle now, thinking back on those days and seeing the wannabe thugs out here in suburbia. They wouldn’t last a week where I grew up.

4. Have you always been a conservative and how would you define the word?

I’ll answer the second part first. Conservatism, to me, is the belief in the concept of limited government and free enterprise. The belief in the civil society where the government exists to keep things orderly, not to run people’s lives. Conservatism is the belief that individuals are born with rights which
are not granted by government. Okay, I’ll spare you the recitation of the Declaration of Independence. It basically boils down to this: Government is a
creation of man and therefore imperfect. A good government is one that is limited to a defined set of duties to advance the cause of individual liberty,
protect individual God-given rights, and protect individual property (the fruits of one’s labor). Those aren’t necessarily three different concepts. I just wanted to make sure there were no assumptions if I just said “individual liberty.”

And yes, I have always been a conservative.

5. I know you’re a bit reticent about aspects of your identity for very understandable reasons. But I’ve heard you are a family man and I know that has to be important to you. What can you tell us about them?

Let’s get the anonymity thing out of the way first since I’m sure everyone is dying to know (heh): The reason I’m anonymous online is primarily because of the industry I work in and what I do (which I’ll explain in greater detail in question 8). I’ve actually had people try to figure out who I am so they could “out” me and while I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get fired, I’d rather not take the risk. Why? Because of my family. (Nice segue, huh?)

I’ve been married for 10 (11 in September) years to a wonderful, loving, beautiful (literally, she’s hot) woman who is a pediatric nurse practitioner. Yes, it was love at first sight. We’ve been together for a little over 13 years. I thank God daily for the circumstances that brought me to Northern Virginia by way of Penn State. It meant dealing with a very bad relationship for a few years, but the end result has been a blessing.

We have four incredibly smart, incredibly stubborn, and incredibly beautiful (they take after their mom) children. Three girls, aged 9,7, and 5. And my son who just turned 3. Yes, I’m fully aware that I will have three girls in high school at the same time for a year. I’m blocking that out from my mind as much as possible. Also, shopping for a shotgun.

They keep us busy. Really busy.

6. You write quite regularly for Big Journalism, one of Andrew Breitbart’s online publications. I think the Bigs and Andrew Breitbart specifically are the new media sensation of this decade. How do you feel about being involved with this enterprise?

It’s an honor to be able to contribute to the Bigs. I’m a huge fan of Andrew Breitbart because of his no-holds-barred approach to taking on the institutional Left. I’m also a huge fan of Dana Loesch (editor of BigJournalism), who also has the same approach to dealing with the Left. It is a thrill to be able to fight along with them in whatever way I can.

I’ve been observing and commenting on bias in the “mainstream” media for a long time. It’s a part of what I call the Left’s Ideological Iron Curtain. In short, the Left has dominated the media (including Hollywood) and academia for so long that they have this apparatus in place to basically drown out any opposition to Progressivism. Anyone who goes against the dogma has to deal with a Left-leaning press, alleged “experts” who are statist Progressives but have credibility because they’re from prestigious universities, and places like Media Matters and ThinkProgress who are nothing more than smear merchants who use all the “research” from Progressive think tanks and other biased sources to push narratives that are not based on reality. It has been frustrating to see it operate. When Breitbart launched BigHollywood and then BigGovernment,  it was like someone finally got it. And then BigJournalism launched and I literally did a Tiger Woods fist pump. It was game time.

Now, don’t get me wrong; places like the Media Research Center have been at this fight for a long time. They do incredible work. They built the foundation of scholarly research proving  the bias in the media. They still crank out tons of content on a daily basis and everything they do is invaluable. You really can’t overstate how much they’ve done to change the narrative and to even the playing field. Breitbart just kicked it up a few notches by getting in the Left’s face and calling them liars point-blank. The MRC, unlike Media Matters, adheres to the rules governing tax-exempt organizations. Breitbart doesn’t have those restraints. It really is an exciting time to be involved in the fight against Leftist smear merchants and narrative-shapers.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank Brandon Kiser for building and letting me contribute there. That’s really where I was able to hone my blogging skills and gain some attention (some might call it notoriety). The young man has a very bright future ahead of him.

7. I think there are a lot of readers who will be curious to learn more about what you enjoy in life, so tell us about some of your favorites (and why they are) in the following categories: Books, Movies, Foods, Musical Artists, Sports Players…whatever else you want to toss in here.

Books: I’m a big fan of fiction. I read so much news daily I like to take a break from the real world when I sit down with a book. Anything by Dean Koontz. I like Stephen King. David Baldacci’s stuff is great. Tolkien. You get the picture.

Movies: Favorite Movie of all time: Godfather II

Food: I’m from New York. Pizza! Duh. Seriously, I love Italian food. Wait. What am I thinking? My wife’s cooking!Whew!  Dodged a bullet there. She really
is a great cook.

Music: I like everything from classical to hip hop. I’m not kidding. About the only thing I won’t willfully choose to listen to is death metal. I’ve listened to the Mumford & Sons album about 1000 times.

Sports: Football, Baseball, Basketball and Volleyball.

Teams: Giants, Yankees,  Knicks, and Misty May Treaner / Kerri Walsh

8. What do you do to earn a living in your “other life?” 

As I mentioned in an earlier answer, the main reason why I maintain anonymity in the “online” world is because of where I work and what I do. I’m in sales. I sell a product / service that is 100% online so I don’t have to travel (even locally) very often. The entire sales process is easily done online and over the phone which is how I can be on Twitter and blogging during the day. Multitasking FTW!

My customers / prospects are all government contractors. They obviously want to play both sides of the aisle so they tend to be very non-partisan when it comes to their public statements. Because of this, my company also urges its employees (like me) to remain very non-partisan in our public statements. I also work in Virginia and as a right-to-work state, employers can let people go without cause (for the most part). As I said earlier, I probably wouldn’t get fired but there’s no sense in risking it.  There’s also an added benefit. Leftists can’t go Alinsky on me and can’t make the debate about me instead of what I’m writing. I see it as a win-win.

I actually received a degree in Marketing with an emphasis in Sales / Sales Management. I’m one of the few people I know who have made a career out of what they studied in college. I’ve sold pretty much everything you can imagine, too. From services (professional services aka staffing, outsourcing) to boxes (copiers, computer hardware) to software and internet backbone access. Give me the value proposition of whatever you’re trying to sell and I can run with it.

9. Besides your parents, who are three people who were influences in your life that led your thinking in a free-market direction, rather than a progressive one?

Well, I have to say my father is the biggest influence in that regard. I know you said “besides my parents,” but I can’t not put him on the list. He’s the one who taught me that free enterprise and the pursuit of it is the American Dream. Ironically, to this day he doesn’t consider himself a conservative. I’ve tried to explain it to him but he’s pretty set in his ways. He thinks he’s a libertarian / borderline anarchist. He can’t stand politicians. Any of them. He doesn’t vote because of it.

I also have to mention my mother because without her, I think I would have been sucked into the anti-Reagan mindset that was so pervasive during my formative years in the 80’s. She was a lifelong Democrat. But she was a Reagan Democrat. From a political standpoint, my father was no help, obviously. He despises anyone who runs for office. My mother, on the other hand, adored Reagan. She referred to him as “My man, Ronald.” I can remember her telling me to listen to how he spoke about America. She told me to not just pay attention to what he was saying, but how he said it. I forget the exact speech, but I remember watching parts of it on the news and watching as my mother listened intently, nodding at some parts, disagreeing with others, but always ending with, “That’s my man, Ronald” or something similar. I also remember realizing that I agreed with everything he was saying even as my mother was shaking her head – and my father was saying something like, “pfft” in the background.

So yeah, it’s cliché, but Ronald Reagan is the one person, besides my parents, who influenced me the most  in politics and ideology.  William F. Buckley, Jr. is another, although the realization came later in life. I remember watching him on TV (“Firing Line”) and thinking he was a bit of a jerk. A little snobby. It wasn’t until later that I realized just how much of a genius he was. He acted that way to get under the skin of whomever he was interviewing to rattle their cage a little and put them on the defensive. It was brilliant. I realized he did this because he knew what they were going to say and wasn’t going to allow them to ramble off the talking points unchallenged. In a way, I emulate his style a little when I challenge the left online and in my writing.

Crap, you said three people besides my parents. I think I’d have to say Jack Kemp. He fought for free enterprise and the power of the private sector until the day he died.

(I could have lied and gone all intellectual by citing Hayek and Friedman but the truth is I instinctively believed in the free market long before I ever knew who they were.)

10. What part do you see yourself playing in the conservative movement, five years from now?

You know, I honestly haven’t thought about it too much. My main focus is raising my kids and instilling in them the values I hold. If they can take what I’m teaching them and continue to live by those conservative principles, I’d have done my job.

I guess it would be great if I can parlay my writing into a paying gig at some point. That would be pretty cool. Until then, I’ll just keep on fighting the good fight and expressing my views to as many people as possible.

(But, if anyone out there is looking to pay me for expressing my views – my views, not theirs – hit a brother up on Twitter. I’m open.)

Twitter Personality of the Week #46: 10 Questions for Joshua Trevino (@jstrevino)

Josh Trevino’s Twitter feed, without a doubt, is an all-purpose destination. Want to see the clueless progressive flavor of the day receive a withering smack down?  Check. How about a geopolitical analysis of the latest hot spot in the Middle East, on which you couldn’t hope to hold forth for even 30 seconds? Check. All combined with, by turn, targeted seriousness and a wicked sense of humor? Yes, that too.

Me at Mount Athos, Greece, visiting Orthodox monasteries there in 2007.

When in search of a sharply cogent voice that cuts through the fog of opinion with ruthless clarity, Josh Trevino’s opinion is always one
of the first I seek. As one of the founders of the powerful RedState commentary site, Josh intuitively comprehends social media and how to utilize it effectively. Josh is well read, and has traveled the world extensively. He has also participated in Republican politics for over a decade. All in all, a valuable perspective.

Josh first came to my attention towards the end of 2009 as a member of Chuck DeVore’s team when Chuck was seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat. Today, Josh serves as VP of Communications for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Within the last couple of months, he is one of a minimal cadre of lonely, but vocal conservatives who have appeared on MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur. This time slot has subsequently been awarded to Al Sharpton; Josh amply holds his own with Uygur’s vapid successor, as well.

Josh is an eloquent and informed voice for robust conservative ideas and how they apply in modern times. May his number increase
in manifold proportions.

10 Questions for Joshua Trevino

1. I’ve gleaned from bits and pieces of your bio that you once served as a speechwriter in the Bush White House. How did you secure that opportunity and what did it involve?

To be specific, I was a speechwriter in the George W. Bush Administration — not the Bush White House. I was a Schedule C Presidential
appointee, assigned as a junior speechwriter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This sounds a bit grandiose, but isn’t: it’s sort of like being a Confederate general, in that there are so many of us with such fantastic titles.

Getting to be a Schedule C Presidential appointee, for me, was a matter of showing up in 2001 to speak with the woman then running the estimable Heritage Foundation Job Bank. She graciously arranged an interview with the HHS Secretary’s chief speechwriter, and the rest is history. I remain in her debt, and his.

2. Moving to the present, you currently serve as VP of Communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Can you tell us about TPPF and more specifically, about your role?

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a free-market think tank dedicated to the principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and liberty, based in Austin, Texas. It is, if I may modestly say so, among the most effective and esteemed State Policy Network institutions in the country. TPPF focuses upon the work of policymakers and officeholders in the great state of Texas, and our research and advocacy helps steer policy here in a pro-liberty, pro-markets direction.

As you know, Texas has done remarkably well compared with the rest of the nation in the past few years. There are many reasons for that, not least the choices of Texans themselves, who have returned some remarkable leaders to office time and again in the past decade. I have only been with TPPF for six months, but I cannot survey Texas’s achievements in recent years without concluding that it deserves its share of credit as well.

As Vice President for Communications, my job is pretty straightforward: I work with a superb communications team, including well-known Austin media veteran David Guenthner and longtime PR professional Kristen Indriago, to get the word out about the superb scholarship and analyses of TPPF’s scholars. They provide the ammunition — we pull the trigger.

3. I’m not sure how many are aware that you, Ben Domenech and Mike Krempasky started RedState. Whose idea was it initially and who brought Erick Erickson on board?                          

My recounting of the origin of RedState is here.

In brief: I had the idea, Ben Domenech, Mike Krempasky and I made it happen, and Erick Erickson made it great. I am quite pleased with where it’s gone, even if I can claim no credit for anything that happened after I left in September 2005!

4. Were you raised in the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity from your youth up and if not, what drew you in that direction?

I was raised Roman Catholic, and first attended a Greek Orthodox service in 1995. My respect and affection for Orthodox Christianity
grew and deepened over the succeeding decade, as I came to understand that it represented a greater fidelity to the Church of the New Testament as described in Acts than any other denomination. The Greek approach to spirituality also proved itself more appealing on emotional and intellectual levels both, especially during my Army years. I ended up converting to Orthodox Christianity in an Arab (Antiochian) parish in Maryland in 2004.

Despite all this, I must emphasize that my conversion to Orthodoxy was not a rejection of Catholicism. Rather, in my eyes, it was a
fulfillment of the things Catholicism rightly taught me to value: Apostolic succession, historic continuity, faithfulness to tradition, and the endurance of the Church in spite of all trials. When I traveled to Istanbul in 2006 for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, I took this photograph, which symbolizes for me the proper relationship between the two ancient Churches that Pope John Paul II properly described as the two “lungs” of Christianity:

5. You were a vocal supporter of Rick Perry’s long before it appeared that he was even flirting with running. What led you to that decision and how do you feel about his chances now?                        

Me clowning around at Rick Perry's podium following his victory in 2010.

Any objective analysis of the reasons for Texas’s relative prosperity will lead to the conclusion that the Governor deserves major credit
for creating the conditions that made it possible. It’s as simple as that. Should he decide to run for President, his narrative on this alone will likely prove compelling.

6. You are one of the more (to say the least) fearlessly and eloquently combative conservatives on Twitter. Have you always enjoyed argument and debate?

To the regret of parents and superior officers, yes.

7. Instead of the “favorites” question I often pose in this series, in your case, I’d like to ask what your influences have been along the road of politics and policy, whether literary, cultural or spiritual?

Steven Runciman’s “History of the Crusades” was essential for teaching my fourteen-year old self about adventure, fanaticism, distant
lands, and glory. William Manchester’s “The Last Lion” laid forth Churchill in full, ending (inadvertently but poetically) at his moment of triumph and peril in June 1940, and taught my seventeen-year old self about greatness. The United States Army humbled me in every way, and taught lessons about the primacy of character over intellect that did not fully bear fruit until years later. And I was blessed to come into consciousness in an age of giants: Reagan, Thatcher, John Paul II. My formative years saw them do nothing more, and nothing less, than save the world. The task of my generation is to keep faith with them, and defend what they preserved for us.

8. In what part of the United States were you raised and how early on were you interested in the life of the mind in general (history, philosophy, etc) and conservative politics, specifically?

My father was a U.S. Air Force officer. From birth through college, I grew up in Texas, Colorado, Virginia, South Korea, Virginia again,
and Florida.

Me as a Second Lieutenant at the Furman University ROTC Dining-In, 1998.

My first self-identification as a conservative was instinctual rather than intellectual: on election day 1984, the Armed Forces Korea Network broadcast the live results on Wednesday morning in Seoul. I recall asking my father who the North Koreans wanted to win, and he replied that Kim Il-Sung would probably welcome a Mondale victory. I was a Reagan enthusiast immediately. In the intervening 27 years, nothing has dissuaded me from that enthusiasm.

I have tried and generally failed to engage with philosophy on its own terms, excepting Kierkegaard, whom I find endlessly delightful and morose. Make that delightful because morose. History, by contrast, is always more interesting than any fiction, and I will read it until the end.

9. Is it fair to characterize your ideological niche as robust neo-conservatism?

That has become progressively less true in the past half-decade. It seems I am simply, and happily, conservative.

10. You’ve lived in DC and California and have now migrated to Texas, where, it appears, you are quite content to reside. How does it compare to your former home states?

Sam Houston said, “Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has ever blessed my vision.” I’ve lived in ten states and been to nearly
forty countries, and I quite agree. California has magnificent scenery, and I’m sure I could think of something good about D.C., given sufficient time; but Texas, where my family’s roots go back over two centuries to the dominion of the Spanish Crown, is where my heart and soul are at home, and at peace.

Twitter Personality of the Week #44: 10 Questions for Erin Brown (@Erin_Brown)

The New Testament Gospel of John tells the story of Philip, one of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. With all the ardent fervor of a new follower,
Philip seeks out his brother, Nathanael, and exclaims that he has found the Messiah, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The reader can picture Nathanael looking askance in response, as he postulates, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”  

I’m reluctant to admit this, but lately, I share that same skeptical sentiment whenever I hear about any idea or person that originates in California. There was, however, a happy ending to John’s story; Nathanael came around fairly quickly. Similarly, California’s modern contributions to the nation are, thankfully, not confined to the likes of Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. The Golden State is still producing patriots such as Chuck and Diane Devore, Jenny and Leif Erikson, Brittany Cohan…and Erin Brown.

Technically, Erin does reside in Virginia now, but she was a lifelong Southern California native for the bulk of her youth, until her family
impoverished the area by leaving it. In Erin’s case, California’s loss has inarguably constituted Virginia’s gain. Erin exemplifies what the Democrat/media complex would contend is an oxymoron: a beautiful young conservative woman of deep conviction, tempered by a radiantly sweet spirit and pungently optimistic outlook.

If you aren’t following Erin’s journey as she develops her chops as a writer and journalist, you should be. She has an unerring eye for culture and media stories with a worthy hook, and draws attention to these items that might otherwise escape the scrutiny they merit. We need media watchdogs in the conservative movement who contribute both substance and style to their coverage. Erin fits that bill!

10 Questions for Erin Brown

1.  Very few people who work in the conservative movement in Washington, DC grew up there. I presume you’re no exception?

Yup, I’m not a D.C. native. I was born in Orange County, California, and spent the first 12 years of my life in Southern California. I spent 10 years in Lake Arrowhead, California (a small mountain town where lots of celebrities had vacation homes) and it was simply gorgeous up there. Small town feel, above the L.A. smog, gorgeous pine trees and lakes, and living up there, you could experience all four seasons. I was 20 minutes from the ski slopes and an hour from the beach- talk about a perfect location!

My dad’s job moved us to D.C. in 1999 and I’ve been in the D.C. suburbs ever since. Virginia has grown on me and now that we’re under Governor Bob McDonnell, I’m happier than ever. 🙂 I miss my family and the beautiful towns in California, but not the high taxes and ridiculous nanny-state policies those whack-o liberals are enacting. I shake my head and my heart grieves for the good tax-paying citizens of the Golden State that are suffering that kind of political abuse. However, I love being near D.C. and I think God has me here for a reason.

2. You are one of my best friends in the conservative movement who is also a committed evangelical Christian. How does practice of the one impact the other and vice versa?

I am a follower of Christ first and foremost. I wish to be defined as a child of God before I am defined as an American conservative. I use my knowledge of the Bible, my personal relationship with Christ and the basic guidelines He set for His children as principles that rule my life, and a
filter through which I view and discuss politics. That’s not to say I blindly repeat Biblical passages when I get in a political discussion, as if my faith is nothing but a blind repetition of religious text. It’s much more than that. God gave us brains, and He encourages us to engage them and get them out of neutral.

I think the Bible hints at principles of personal responsibility, reaping what you sow, teaching a man to fish, and valuing innocent life above
all else that we see permeating our dialogue in 21st Century politics, and influencing the traditional standards of conservatism. I think there are some very clear cut answers in the Bible, especially for the particularly divisive social issues conservatives stand for, from which we can glean a clear vision of God’s opinion on the subject. But it is not always so cut and dry.                             

There is not always a perfect intersection where my faith and my conservative principles align. But for those “grayer” areas about which the Bible and Jesus do not speak clearly… well, that’s when I rely on history, common sense, and that thing called a brain, that God gave us. Our founding
fathers were men of great vision, great intellect, and also great faith. I believe we live in a more perfect union BECAUSE our founders were men of great faith AND great intellect. Reliance on God, common sense reasoning, and deep intelligence can all beautifully coexist inside the human mind, and I think our founders were brilliant examples of what its like to have one’s faith impact politics and vice versa.

3.  You attended James Madison University (along with another alumnus of this series: @MattCover!). Were the two of you acquainted at that time and did JMU influence your eventual career choice?

I sure did! Go Dukes! Yes, Matt and I met the end of our freshman year in the College Republicans club and have been friends ever since (more than 6 years!) Matt and I have many stories of campaigning for former governor George Allen for Senate in 2006 and placing hundreds of yard signs in the yard of the Democratic Party headquarters in Harrisonburg, VA (where JMU is located). We attended debate watching parties, hosted great conservative speakers on campus like Dinesh D’Souza and just to piss off the hippie liberals on campus, we had a VERY public Animal Rights BBQ in which some awesome redneck hooked us up with roadkill that we threw on the grill. (I did not eat it, for the record). Yeah, that got our liberal counterparts up in arms.

Erin at her alma mater, James Madison University.

I picked JMU for a few reasons, some of them more shallow than I’d like to admit. It was in state (yay for in state tuition and graduating without debt!) but more importantly, it had great connections in DC and a fantastic journalism and political program. But what really solidified my decision to attend JMU was the fact that I knew many JMU alumni, and not a single one regretted his or her decision to attend Madison. Not one had a bad word to say about it. I completely echo their sentiments – I feel blessed to have attended James Madison University, whose namesake is my favorite founding father.

4.  How would you describe your role at the Media Research Center?

Haha, another loaded question, as I have held three different positions at MRC. I began as an intern, then worked in the development department for a year, and have now been writing full time for more than nine months. I am a staff writer for the cultural division (Culture and Media Institute) and my job changes from day to day. I sometimes spend weeks researching Nexis, reading transcripts and watching broadcasts to expose the liberal media bias in cultural reporting. For example, in 2008, I worked on a Special Report that documented the character
assassination of Sarah Palin by the mainstream media and it got picked up on Brett Baier’s Fox News show, “Special Report.”

Depending on the day, I’m either monitoring the bias on “The View,” reading the Washington Post, flipping through Entertainment Weekly, watching “Good Morning America,” reviewing this week’s episode of “Glee”, or like I said, up to my ears in research. But to boil it down, my goal is to document and expose the cultural media bias that exists in the mainstream media – I cover faith, family, patriotism, life, entertainment

5.  What entertainment options do you enjoy in the following categories:  Books, Movies, Foods, Musical Artists and…whatever other random fields you’d like to add?


Books: The Bible (specifically Ruth–her loyalty is inspiring). Pretty much anything by Ann Coulter (I’ve read almost all of hers), and the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe.

Movies: Top 2 = The Count of Monte Cristo and Gone with the Wind.

Food: Chilean green grapes. (Yeah, it’s in my twitter profile). I could eat them every day for the rest of my life. I often tell people that I think God created them just for me. I love coffee, Midori sours, a good rack of tender baby back ribs, and I’ve never met a salad I didn’t like.

Music: My style is entirely eclectic. I enjoy everything from Steely Dan to Michael Jackson to Three Days Grace and Muse to Steve Miller band to Tenth Avenue North to Jerry Lee Lewis to Bruce Hornsby. Oh, and I love the Rippingtons. (late 80s and early 90s smooth jazz ensemble – they’re amazing).

Color: Lavender

Dangerous Activity: using my extended tire pressure gauge to play the air drums on my hour+ commute home on the Beltway

Form of therapy: playing anything on my baby grand piano

Word: Shrapnel

Toilet Paper: Charmin

Erin and her husband, Kyle, on a cruise ship.

6.  You’re not exactly a newlywed, but you haven’t been married a terribly long time, either! Tell us about your husband.

Yeah, somewhere between a newlywed and old married woman- married three years this August. Wow, where do I start? Kyle is a tender man and the most amazing provider. He’s been with me for over six years and has seen me cry, yell, throw up and get in a minor car accident. (I took a turn too fast in the rain!) He’s heard me pray, seen me weep, watched me sin and held my hand through it all. He’s the most solid, predictable man I know, and I value how God has blessed him. He’s goofy and sweet and an amazing chef. What can I say? He completes me. Oh and he’s a freakin’ stud.

7.  What does it mean to be a cultural conservative?

At the core I think it means that you value and do your utmost to uphold the principles set by our founders, respecting everything that is traditional and sacred about America.  Cultural conservatives value innocent life, freedom of religion, and above all, personal responsibility.

8.  How do you feel so far about the 2012 field and our chances in general, especially given the brand new unemployment number (9.2%)?!?!

I am a waiter, so to speak. There is WAY too much time between now and November 2012 for any serious pontificating, in my opinion. There is too much time for the Chris Christies to join the race, the Jon Huntsmans to come out of left field and the Newt Gingrichs to commit gaffes. That’s not to say I don’t have my favorites right now, but as far as the field is in general, it’s somewhat exciting, but very diverse. We have scholars, lawyers, career politicians, parents, business owners and solid conservatives all represented in the candidates we see playing the field right now. I’m encouraged by the prospects I see, but I’m also a pessimist at heart. I know the power the media has to influence the race and we have unfortunately witnessed the sheep-like cowardice of the American people to be swayed by a shallow slogan and desire for that ambiguous “change.” My fear is that the GOP will not solidly unite behind a single candidate and that there will be infighting in the party, which will present an unattractive option to the independent voters, therefore splitting the vote, with the majority going to reelect Obama. I PRAY that is not the
case. However, the American people are strong, vibrant, and generally very smart. If a conservative candidate with a strong record and presence at the podium takes the nomination, then I think we have no problem ousting the current occupant. If the candidate takes a page from the playbook of Carville and Stephanopolous circa ‘91 and ‘92 by hammering home “It’s the economy, stupid” (or as of this week perhaps, “It’s the jobs, stupid”) our chances improve significantly. Only time will tell.

Rooting for the Redskins!

9.  Who are 3 prominent conservatives that you admire today?

I’m going to avoid the typical “Reagan” answer. Haha, that is just too easy. You said “prominent” so here goes.

Rush Limbaugh – I grew up with Rush. No really, I did. My dad listened to Rush when he was just beginning his radio career out of Sacramento, California – I had his call-in number (1-800-282-2882) memorized before my home phone number – while still in my car seat. And I would apparently recite it along with Rush. The man has endured every kind of attack on his character and his person, and he still brilliantly continues forging a path of conservative thought. He distills complex concepts into nuggets that the masses can feast on, and THAT is no easy task. He’s a
master of his art, and he refuses to compromise.

Ann Coulter – Sorry to mention her AGAIN, but the woman has basically no filter and in a politically correct-obsessed society, she is a refreshing voice. She speaks the truth without love – and that takes guts.

George W. Bush – in the most clichéd of ways, he was a true leader. He went with his gut, trusted those around him and made decisions he thought were right, even if they were somewhat unpopular. His faith in God and true humility are qualities that we lack in leaders today, since what defines a “leader” in 2011 is someone who steps on others in order to climb to the top. Bush was a deep man who weighed heavily the decisions he made as commander in chief, ceding ultimately to a higher authority.  He used the courage of conviction, not the money floated by lobbyists or direction of opinion polls to make decisions. In my opinion, that is admirable.

10. I’m always especially interested in what twentysomethings think they might be doing in 10 years…so this seems like the proper place to conclude?

In ten years I’ll be 35, so I will hopefully be wrinkle-free and still 113 lbs. Just kidding. Seriously though, if God wills, I would love to be a mother, and still actively involved in the conservative movement in some way. Writing is my passion, so I can’t ever foresee giving that up. I’d love to write campaign speeches, but I have a long road ahead of me if that is to be accomplished. But ultimately, I want my life to glorify God. If He is being reflected in my life in any way, then I can say I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do.

Twitter Personality of the Week #43: 10 Questions for Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman)

Without fail, when I get the chance to feature another young conservative in this series, I revel in the opportunity. So when I asked Gabriella (“Gabby”) Hoffman if I could profile her, I was pleased that she granted my request. Had I been aware of the profuse flurry of conservative movement causes in which she is involved, while also attending college full-time, I might have exercised a bit more pause! Then again, not really. Those busily engaged in worthwhile efforts often have a compelling story to tell. Gabby is no exception to that rule.

At a very youthful age, Gabby possesses remarkable drive and passion, and she channels it directly towards endeavors that contribute to freedom. As a child of European immigrants and a grandchild of those who suffered under a totalitarian regime, she understands the stakes in a vivid manner that relatively few of us can grasp. (Is it possible that those Americans just a generation or two removed from tortuous tyranny may yet prove the salvation of our nation?)

Gabby reflects the attractive combination of dogged refusal to accept the status quo, accompanied by a sunny demeanor and cheerful smile. She is a happy warrior who intuitively comprehends the Churchillian maxim that there is no substitute for victory. May her number greatly increase!

I’ll be watching Gabby Hoffman in the years to come. My wager is that her casual assertion levied in response to my final question pans out just as she expects.

10 Questions for Gabriella Hoffman

1. We haven’t yet met and I’m always especially interested in the biographical backgrounds of friends whom I’ve not had the pleasure of talking to in person. Are you originally from Europe or have you lived in the United States your whole life?

Alas, I was not born in Lithuania as some people think.  I was born and raised in Orange County, California, and interestingly enough, was the first person in my immediate family to be born in this country. My parents fled the Baltic Republic in question in 1985 and came to the U.S. in 1986 in search of a better life.  I’m proud to call myself an unhyphenated American, although I embrace my Eastern European heritage. My dad is ethnically Jewish, and my mom is Lithuanian and Russian.

Compared to growing up in Lithuania like my parents did, I grew up in the freest nation in the world. I had the privilege of living by the beach, growing up with Disneyland, and enjoying the endless sunshine. I am proud to be a Californian, despite how much I detest our current governor, the California Teachers Association, and union thugocracy plaguing this state.  

I’m proud of my accomplishments thus far in life. In high school, I was an AP Scholar, semi-finalist for the Titan of the Year Award, varsity and junior varsity tennis player, and National Honor Society member.  I graduated in 2009 with a 4.4 GPA and hundreds of community service hours under my belt. I did a lot of philanthropy work in Coto de Caza (think Real Housewives of Orange County) as an advice columnist for teens and as a youth volunteer with Coto Community Activities Network. Additionally, I worked with a nonprofit called Working Wardrobes, which helped displaced people (U.S. servicemen, low-income families, orphans, homeless people, etc) get back into the workforce without any governmental assistance. I would say that my proudest moment was throwing a Christmas party for a local orphanage in nearby Trabuco Canyon. My father dressed up as Santa Claus, while the rest of my family helped out. We held a school-wide drive to collect clothing, toys, and other items to give to the kids. It was miraculous and equally amazing that we had 20+ volunteers to make this event a success.                                                

At the Eagle Forum podium.

I’ve remained unapologetic ally conservative and continue to do the same in college. Thus far, I served as the past president of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at UCSD and a columnist and board member of UCSD’s conservative paper “The California Review,” among many things. Outside of university, my involvement extends to Eagle Forum of San Diego (where I serve as the Director of College Outreach), The Rick Amato Show (Executive Assistant), Young America’s Foundation (Sarah T. Hermann Intern – Summer 2010 at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara), Ann and Phelim Media, LLC (New Media Intern), and Restoring Courage U.S. (Co-Founder).

Additionally, I’m a columnist for “The Washington Times Communities” and for the Landmark Report. I also maintain my own blog and blog for San Diego Rostra, the College Fix, and other sites.

2. It’s been a little while since I interviewed a young conservative. How early in life did you know you were one and how did it come about?

I’ve been a conservative since birth; I simply had no other choice. 

My maternal grandfather was imprisoned in a gulag at the Belomor Canal, which lies on the Finnish-Russian border.  Belonging to any religious faith in Soviet Russia was frowned upon. As a result, my grandpa’s Catholic beliefs landed him there. He and my maternal grandmother were in German and Russian labor camps throughout their lives. They had very tough lives and had to make many sacrifices.  My dad’s side of the family similarly suffered persecution from Nazis and Communists. My paternal grandmother’s father was a prisoner of war fighting for the Soviets, and was later killed by Germans for being Jewish. Other relatives had been killed in the Holocaust. Additionally, when my dad and his family lived in Lithuania (then U.S.S.R.), they faced virulent anti-Semitism. If you were Jewish, you were taunted and discriminated against.

My family history compelled me to be conservative. Hearing about the harsh lifestyles and treatment my relatives faced the USSR under an oppressive, statist, and Marxist regime consolidated my belief that capitalism and freedom best ensure happiness. My grandparents would be spinning in their graves if I sympathized with such a pervasive system that exploited them.  Communism and socialism are antithetical to human nature. In my mind, conservatism connotes freedom, while liberalism connotes tyranny. 

3. You’re currently interning for my friends Phelim McAleer & Ann McElhinney. How is it going so far?

Indeed I am! I’ve known about Ann and Phelim’s work ever since I was an intern at Young America’s Foundation last summer. I admire what they do to expose ‘global warming’ hysteria, especially from the educational angle, and thought I could be a great asset to them.  

I’ve been working for them since May, and it’s going well. I work on projects ranging from expanding social media following on Facebook/Twitter to blog posts to other tasks. When school picks up again, I’ll help out with blog posts, speaking engagements, and connecting college students with Ann and Phelim.   

4.  How did you decide where to go to college and what is your major? 

When I was applying for college, I thought I would get into an Ivy League school or similar institution of higher learning.  I knew I was capable of getting into one since I had a 4.4 GPA, a stellar volunteer record, decent SAT decent score, and membership in the National Honor Society. Then I learned that I didn’t get into any of these ‘prestigious’ schools.  Instead, I chose to go to school in La Jolla, a San Diego suburb that’s an hour away from home. 

I entered UC-San Diego in Fall 2009, and will be graduating in June 2012. I’m studying political science and minoring in history. I juggle academics with campus journalism, and contribute to The California Review—UCSD’s conservative journal.  In my freshman year of college, I brought David Horowitz to UCSD to talk about Israel and Islamofascism. That famous exchange between him and the female Muslim Student Association member landed on Fox News and the conservative blogosphere. I look forward to finishing my collegiate career by bringing speakers like Jason Mattera, S.E. Cupp and/or Ann Coulter to shake things up on campus. I also want to cover more stories, events, and bias on campus before I graduate next year.            

Gabby and her sister with the one and only SE Cupp.

5. What would you offer as your favorites in the following categories: Books, Musical Artists, Movies, Foods and a couple other fields of interest?

Books: Anything by Ann Coulter (particularly Guilty), Obama Zombies by Jason Mattera, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas and God and Men at Yale by William F. Buckley. I have so many more books to read by conservative authors!

Musical Artists: My taste in music is pretty eclectic. Favorite genres include classical, rock, pop, jazz, and R&B. In particular, I like music from The Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Natasha Bedingfield, Five for Fighting, David Guetta, Adele, The Saturdays, Louis Armstrong, Beethoven, Mozart, Dvorak, Chopin, and similar artists.

Movies:  I like Meet Joe Black, the Harry Potter series, Pirates of the Caribbean, 27 Dresses, Adam Sandler films, in particular. There are too many films to list!

Foods: I used to be a picky eater until I discovered how delectable certain foods were. I especially like Eastern European (i.e. Red beet salad, perogis (dumplings), potatoes, cow tongue, blood sausage), Peruvian, American, and Italian food. I can eat anything but Indian.

Sports: I enjoy watching and playing tennis, volleyball, and ping pong.  I don’t mind basketball either! And most girls would shriek at the sight of a fellow female fishing, especially deep-sea fishing.  I enjoyed fishing as a kid and still love it!

6. Are you officially on the “Michele Bachmann for President” train and do you like any of the other candidates?

As of right now, I’m on Team Bachmann. She’s been working tirelessly in Congress to help fix problems in Washington, D.C. She’s smart, articulate, and keeps the Republican establishment on their toes. If Bachmann doesn’t win the nomination, I’d be content with Rick Perry if he decides to run. We need someone in the White House who loves this country, especially someone who wants to reform our government—not a president who takes pride in radically transforming America.

7. Besides Ronald Reagan, who are 3 other conservatives who inspire you today as a young person joining the movement?

The three figures that have influenced my conservatism are my father, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck.          

The Hoffman family.

Like President Obama, I have a ‘spiritual advisor’: my father. He is the person who triggered my interest in politics. Ever since I was a kid, we talked about issues and problems in society. He would draw from experiences in Lithuania and parallel them to the present day. Interestingly enough, my father predicted many things that occurred in our nation long before many Americans realized them. I thank my dad for encouraging me to be a conservative activist.                 

I look to Ann Coulter as another inspiration. She is a great female role model. I like that she has the audacity to tell the truth. Like Coulter, I want to write, make appearances, and speak at college campuses in the future. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Richard M. Nixon Library here in February 2009 while she was on tour for Guilty. I appreciate her contributions to the Conservative Movement, and always enjoy her commentary. 

Glenn Beck is another commentator I look up to. After being troubled by alcoholism, Beck felt inclined to become a better individual. As a result, he decided to positively impact this nation through radio and T.V. Beck says many ‘unpopular’ things, but is confident that his message inspires people to be activists. He inspired the 912 Project, Tea Party Movement, and facilitated a return to normalcy. It is undeniable that Glenn Beck says the truth and is a force to be reckoned with. 

8. I’d like to turn the tables for one question and hear what a young person has to say about this: What do you feel is the most unviable aspect of liberalism?                                              

Gabby's home state represented in the nation's Capitol!

I will be bold and say that the most unviable aspect of liberalism is how antithetical it is to human nature. Whether it is the destruction of capitalism, the overhaul of healthcare (ObamaCare, socialized healthcare), satisfying union interests, or instituting political correctness, leftists want to destroy America, her principles, her laws, her sacred documents, and her traditions. Undeniably, leftists prefer chaos, enjoy fabricating class warfare, and want to silence any opposition to their cause.  Obama’s agenda will put our nation on the path to communism unless he’s defeated in 2012.

9.       Are you a person of faith and does it play a significant role in your life?

Religion is a sensitive thing to discuss, as many are quick to judge me for not being devoutly religious. Yet, I think as I grow older, I believe I’ll become more religious. My dad is a secular Jew, while my mom is a devout Catholic. Religion is a facet that has made this country great, providing the foundation for morals, laws, and values.  I believe there is a God, but due to my interesting situation, I have not coveted such an interest yet. I look forward to reading Biblical works when time affords.

10.   What would you like to be doing in 10 years?

I’m 20 now, so by the time I am 30 years old, I’d like to be married, have a syndicated column, appear on Fox News as a commentator, and work as a grassroots activist in the Tea Party Movement.  I’m confident these opportunities will come my way in the near future.

Michele Bachmann Holds Nationwide Blogger Conference Call

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has featured prominently in news headlines for the last couple of weeks, but has dominated lead stories for the last few days.

She appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Sunday, June 26. In one of Wallace’s closing questions, he cited some of Bachmann’s statements over the preceding months, which garnered considerable criticism, then asked her, “Are you a flake?” Bachmann appeared taken aback, but recovered well and provided an answer that touted her credentials as a longstanding member of Congress, as well as a licensed tax attorney…

Please go to Hoosier Access to read the rest!

Twitter Personality of the Week #42: 10 Questions for Dan Isett (@DanIsett)

Participating on a panel at a conference in Korea.

No one could ever credibly accuse Dan Isett of shrinking back from speaking his mind. But then, come to think of it, that is a characteristic I have noticed in most Texans I’ve encountered. Not that I object! Forthrightness and boldness is only objectionable in someone who is unable to bolster their beliefs with a logical defense. Dan is more than capable in that regard. 

As someone who doesn’t find it difficult to get along with those who don’t see eye to eye with me, I have to trust my credibility isn’t diminished when I compliment Dan, since we tend to process issues through a similar prism! We’re both married, Republican evangelicals. We enjoy a hearty meal of PF Chang’s gourmet Chinese, Texas barbecue or virtually any other tasty cuisine. And we both live for the thrust and parry of American politics.  

With that, permit a personal aside: I’ve had occasion to observe firsthand that Dan is an incredibly gracious man. I was sojourning in our nation’s capital a few weeks ago and dropped by the Media Research Center offices for a tour. From there, I was headed to Capitol Hill, so Dan offered a ride to the closest Metro stop. Fifteen minutes later, I disembarked…right in front of the Capitol complex. Friendly service with a smile…not to mention getting to see the Monuments along the mall on the drive in, which I hadn’t yet been able to do on that particular visit.

Life is too short not to live it to the fullest, which is why I tend to seek out friends who intuitively grasp that. I admire the enthusiasm and Texas-sized gusto that my friend, Dan Isett, brings to all his endeavors. I aspire to the same!

10 Questions for Dan Isett 

At the White House Christmas party in 2006.

1. What is the Parents’ Television Council and why does it make some people froth at the mouth? 

The PTC is a non-partisan, non-religious organization of better than 1.3 million members around the country, and our mission is pretty simple: to protect children from sex, violence and profanity in entertainment.  It was founded in 1995 by well-known conservative activist L. Brent Bozell III and was originally a division of the Media Research Center.  Over time, the organization grew and became self-sustaining.  The PTC is now headquartered in Los Angeles, and my colleague Melissa Henson and I make up the East Coast end of the organization. 

Your second question is much more difficult to answer.  In recent weeks, I’ve dealt with a number of death threats and all manner of profane name calling over Twitter and on my Facebook page.  What provoked that response was a statement we issued which criticized BET for airing a Rihanna video that featured a graphic depiction of a man shot dead in the middle of a street in violation of the network’s own standards.  Ironically, my message of nonviolence was met with enormous hostility and threats of violence.                                          


 Frankly, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about who we are and what our goals are.  We are often accused of being “censors” and “church ladies,” when in fact our mission is about as innocuous and noncontroversial as can be.  After six years working for the PTC, I’ve found that there are very few who don’t support our work after I’ve had a chance to lay out for them what we support – common sense broadcast decency rules, reform of the various media ratings systems to be more transparent and effective, and consumer choice in cable programming. 

2. Here I am profiling yet another Texan! I have yet to meet anyone from the Lone Star State who answers negatively when I ask if growing up there impacted their lives and perspective. I’m guessing you would answer similarly? 

As any Texan will tell you, Texas is the Center of the Universe – and I’m only joking a little bit about that.  Unlike some of the other Texans you’ve featured, I’m originally from West Texas, the wide-open, less populated and ruggedly beautiful end of the state. 

There are so many things that are wonderful and special about Texas, I find it difficult to express.  Her people are friendly, her spaces are big, her vision is bold, her spirit is fierce and independent and her history is rich and compelling.  As George W. Bush said on election night 2004, “On the open plains of Texas, I first learned the character of our country — sturdy and honest, and as hopeful as the break of day.” I could not agree more.

As for me, I grew up in Canyon and Lubbock, Texas.  My dad taught journalism at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M) and in many ways I had a typical small town childhood. I was a good athlete and played a lot of basketball and soccer and ran a lot of track as a younger man.  My family moved to the Oklahoma City area before my senior year of high school, and I graduated from Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School there. 

After being in what I considered a foreign land, I was ready to come back to familiar territory, so I went to college at Texas Tech in Lubbock – the biggest city in West Texas.  A lot of people go straight through college in four years, but that wasn’t in the cards for me.  I enlisted in the Navy and spent eight years as a drilling reservist, and I took time off to work on a number of different political campaigns.  When I went back to Tech, I was highly motivated and worked my way through at the Lubbock Avalance-Journal (the local newspaper) and graduated with a degree in history and mass communications.                                       

At home in Texas at a Texas Tech game!

I stayed in Texas for a while after finishing my degree and worked as Executive Director of the Texas Home School Coalition.  Homeschoolers are still near and dear to my heart.  In 2002, I was elected Chairman of the Lubbock County Republican Party and was the youngest county chairman in the state at the time.  In fact, I was initially denied entrance to the county chair association meeting at the GOP state convention because I was so much younger than the other county chairs and they weren’t sure what to make of me.  Eventually, they figured it out though!

3. You and I have hung out on a number of occasions, yet I know virtually nothing about “Mrs. Dan Isett.” I’m not even sure of her name! Care to share? 

“Mrs. Dan” is Christine, and we met during my second stint in college.  Perhaps not surprisingly, we actually met at a College Republican meeting.  She is a fascinating, beautiful and brilliant woman and we just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.  I couldn’t find my socks without her.                                             

4. What brought you to Washington, DC and how long have you been there? 

My first DC job was at the Center for Education Reform as Director of External Affairs, and I got to work on charter school and school choice issues in legislatures all over the country.  It was a great opportunity, and I’ve been living in the DC area since January, 2004. 

5. How are you feeling these days about the 2012 Presidential race? 

(I need to make the disclaimer that I am in no way representing my opinion on this as that of the PTC.)  

It’s so early in the race, it’s difficult to have anything but a very blurry crystal ball.  I don’t mean to give an equivocal answer, but each candidate has characteristics that appeal to me.  I have always been a great admirer of Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain. I also believe Newt Gingrich is one of the best thinkers we have on the GOP side.  Tim Pawlenty has amassed a solid record in a tough state to be a conservative, and Mitt Romney’s organizational strength is going to be formidable.                                                        

Ready for a cruise!

If Rick Perry gets into the race, he will be a force to be reckoned with.  I’ve watched his career for a long time, and every time he is underestimated, he’s able to emerge victorious.  That’s valuable in a political candidate. 

6. How does the practice of Christianity impact the way you see the world? 

Well, I’m a Christian and that colors everything about me.  I have tried to live my life in deference to God’s plan for me and in gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice to save me from myself.  I often fall short of God’s standard, but His Grace is sufficient for a sinner like me – and everyone else reading this. 

7. You know the routine! We ask everyone to share their favorites, so we need to hear yours: Books, Movies, Musical Artists, Foods, and some miscellaneous categories. 

Favorite Books:

I almost exclusively read histories and biographies, but some of my recent favorites have been

“Jefferson Davis: American” by William J Cooper

“Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy

“How Evil Works” by David Kupelian

“Decision Points” by George W Bush 

Favorite Movies:

It’s SO hard to muster up this list, because there are so many that I just love – in no particular order

Braveheart (perhaps the greatest conservative movie of all time)

True Colors (the most underrated political movie ever)


The Right Stuff

South Pacific

The Shawshank Redemption

The Goonies

Intolerable Cruelty

Ben Hur

Steel Magnolias (yeah, I said it)

Lady and the Tramp

(I could go on and on and on) 


Dave Matthews Band

Zac Brown Band

Led Zeppelin

Guns N Roses (music of my misspent youth)

Bob Wills (the King of Western Swing)

George Strait

Toby Keith (I like his snark, even if he’s an Okie)

Italian opera (Verdi, especially)

Depeche Mode (yeah, that’s right) 


Christine’s cooking!

Good Tex-Mex

Texas-style barbecue (“grilling” isn’t barbecue)

I could eat spaghetti every meal and be happy. 

8. What brand of conservatism would you espouse as your own: Social conservatism? Neoconservatism? A combination of the two? 

Frankly, I’m not convinced it’s possible to have a cohesive political philosophy and only subscribe to certain tenets of conservatism.  Lower taxes and less regulation have a symbiotic relationship with stronger and more cohesive families which helps yield a strong national defense.  Without any of these pillars, nothing else works either in terms of being philosophically consistent or in terms of building a winning political coalition.              

At Disney World with Christine ("Mrs. Dan") Isett.

9. As someone who has lived in Washington, DC for a number of years, who are a few people in that town whom you feel are providing genuine leadership on the issues that matter in our time?

It’s easy to grow cynical about Washington and the people who live and work here, but there are people who truly are in Washington without being “of” Washington. 

Just a very few of the many I’d put on that list:

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America

Chris Gacek of Family Research Council

Tim Graham of Media Research Center (I work closely with Tim, so this is an easy choice)

Gabe Neville (Rep. Joe Pitts’ Chief of Staff)

Sarah Makin (Coalitions Director for the House Republican Conference) 

10. What would you like to be doing in 10 years? 

Outside of missing out on living in Texas, I think I’m one of the very blessed people who is getting to do more or less exactly what I wanted with my life.  If I could keep at it for another ten years, I’d be more than happy!