Good Times at Carolina FreedomNet 2006

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Oct 07, 2006 6:33 PM

I had a really great time at the conference. I got in late last night and had drinks with my parents and some of the panelists.

I got to meet Bob Owens, who was a ton o' fun, and Sister Toldjah was great, too. I was delighted to find Gay Patriot in attendance, who I've been reading forever, but had no idea lived in N.C.  

He liveblogged both panels, here and here. Since we are on the subject of gay conservatives so much of late, I'll pull this quote. It warmed my heart:

Lorie specifically said that if you have a unique perspective you get certain demographic and she said her audience includes a lot of gay conservatives. Then she said, “one of the best gay conservative sites is GayPatriot.” Yeaaaaaaa. And at a John Locke event to boot. And nope, I wasn’t stoned. I was embraced.

Imagine that, huh? If you're surprised, you're a liberal.

I spoke on the second panel. We covered a lot of ground. It was more of a philosophical discussion of blogging, where it's been, and where it's taking us than the nuts-and-bolts and driving traffic discussion. There were a lot of bloggers in the audience, and those who weren't were savvy blog-readers, which meant the panels could become a conversation between the audience and the panel. It was a much more lively discussion than a lot of the blog panels I've attended.

Everyone seemed to have a very good time with the exception of one guy sitting behind me who got conspicuously and inordinately angry about what he perceived as a lack of substance in the discussion. Weird.

A couple thoughts from the bloggers on the panel. McCain's dead in the water when it comes to winning over right bloggers-- pretty much unanimously agreed upon. There was a round of applause for repealing McCain-Feingold, so I reckon Johnny could use that to earn his primary win. What are the chances? Ha.

We talked about McCain-Feingold for a bit, and Jeff Taylor and Ed Cone (another long-time read I had never met) really drove home the need for bloggers--left and right-- to be paying attention to technology law and campaign law, because the ins and outs will end up affecting what we're allowed to write. I try to keep up. I force myself to go to those technology law panels at techie conferences and learn about FEC law, but man, don't it just stick in your craw that you have waste time you could be using to express yourself freely to make sure you can keep expressing yourself freely? Blech. Stupid gummint.

We also talked quite a bit about local blogging. Greensboro has a pretty vibrant local blogging community, and the Locke Foundation (the conservative think tank in N.C.) has started four regional blogs for Charlotte, Wilmington, the Triad, and the Triangle.

Obviously, my job description is to hit national and international political news, not local, but I've always felt a little guilty that I'm not better informed about the city council. The folks who do follow and blog that stuff are doing yeoman's work. As conservatives, we should be in tune to our local governments. We support the idea that they, more often than the giant federal government, are likely to have solutions to policy problems. And yet, what do I cover all the time? What do I have interest in? The federal government.

There's a distinct lack of glamour in local politics blogging, and this is already an endeavor that's not high on the glamour scale, no matter what you're covering. But I mentioned that local blogging is an area where conservatives are in danger of conceding the battleground to Lefties, which is dangerous.

Local blogging communities will become, and are already in some places, really important to electoral politics and local policy. Both are of great importance to conservatives. You don't want local Left blogger down the road blogging up the need for a new granola-paved bike path and the need to use your tax dollars to pay for it, and not have your own message to counter him. If there's a vacuum, they will fill it, and the right blogosphere tends to be a bit behind on these kinds of things.

As a solution, I suggested conservative bloggers start by connecting their local politics blogging to bias in their local media. Media bias blogging is red meat for conservative readers, and there is no lack of bias to feed upon, no matter what your market. It's also fun. I hadn't given it a whole lot of thought before, but the local blogging scene is one of those areas-- like online fundraising-- where it's our nature to fall behind the Left blogosphere, and we should be aware of that. The Locke Foundation's four blogs are a pretty ambitious step in the right direction, it seems to me (Full disclosure: My dad's the communications guy at Locke, but I'm being honest, here).

Scott Johnson gave the keynote talk on the Rathergate story, which is pretty much a microcosm of all the bloggy issues we tackled during the panels-- media bias, distributed intelligence, immediacy, electoral impact. My favorite observation of his was this one, on bloggers as pamphleteers.

Also on the panel with me were Josh Manchester, a milblogger who's new to me, but writes at TCSDaily and Adventures of Chester. Definitely putting him in my RSS. He's a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and comments mostly on foreign affairs and the war on terror.

Scott Elliott of Election Projection, who's prediction of the 2004 election results was near-freaky in its accuracy, was also there. Bonus: He's not taking the line that Republicans are going down in flames in '06, so that makes me feel a whole lot better about being optimistic, being that he's the famously prescient one. And, of course, Lorie Byrd. But y'all know I don't travel to N.C. without seeing Lorie.

I'll add more as I think of it. Right now, I gots to get ready for the showdown with the Vols and Preston's impending dooooooom at the hands of the Dawgs!!! 

I'll add links of write-ups when they show up. I think someone took pictures...More later.

Scott's not back home yet, but earlier today he noted two very special guests we had at the conference. How cool is that? They were great ladies.

Update: The guy I mentioned above, who was spittin' and cussin' behind me during the first panel, has left the link to his wrap-up in the comments. Feel free to click through for some traffic-baitin' hatin'. Or, stay here if you're not in the mood.

Update: I forgot to mention I met Kathy of HangRightPolitics, who I also didn't know lived in the Tar Heel State. I've just recently started reading her blog. Her wrap-up is long and thorough, so check it out.

Update: The Locke Foundation has some snippets of video.