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  Politics and Elections
Monday, October 9, 2006
Carolina FreedomNet wrap up
I had the best time this weekend in Greensboro at the John Locke Foundation's bloggers' conference.  Carolina FreedomNet brought together several North Carolina bloggers for a morning of discussion and fun.  There were two panels on Saturday morning followed by lunch with keynote speaker Scott Johnson of Powerline.  The topic of the first panel was "Local vs. Global:  What Should Be Your Blog’s Focus?" though much of the discussion migrated to politics and other topics of interest to bloggers.  The second panel, of which I was a part, led a discussion entitled "How Has The Blogging Phenomenon Affected Politics and Political Discourse?".

After a delicious lunch (wish I could have had seconds!), Scott Johnson took us step-by-step through the series of events which uncovered the fraudulent Sixty Minutes' hit piece in September before the 2004 election on President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service.  Powerline is the blog that broke the story.  The most fascinating aspect of his story was the sheer partisanship of the ones involved.  Liberal bias has always been on display in the mainstream media for those who care to see it, but the extent to which it drove CBS to air that story is simply stunning.  If you are not familiar with the events I'm describing, you can check out Powerline's now famous blog post, The Sixty-First Minute, to read the details.

On Friday night, I was able to visit for several hours with many of the panelists and Jon Ham of the John Locke Foundation (and his delightful wife, Kay).  Without exception, everyone associated with the conference was great.  I enjoyed meeting them and spending time getting to know them.  You probably have heard here that Lorie Byrd of Wizbang Politics is my distant cousin.  Finally getting to meet her was a real treat.  I can tell from her face that she's from my mother's side of the family.  In our conversation, I was impressed at the insightful observations she expressed concerning several of the topics of discussion Friday.

Another impressive lady was Sister Toldjah of Charlotte.  She was pleasant, articulate and engaging, and you could just tell she'd be a great debater.  She actually got the idea to start blogging and the name she uses from debating on political message boards.  Her story is very interesting:  She blogs anonymously to avoid unwanted repercussions at work.  It's cool to know her first name - like I'm privy to some secret tidbit of classified information.  But don't worry Sister, your secret is safe with me!

A third blogger, Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee, was also there on Friday.  Before this weekend, I had not read his blog.  That's a mistake I will be correcting going forward.  He has a dry wit that makes you chuckle most of the time and laugh out loud some of the time.  And he has a clever way of putting things that is both pointed and humorous.  I looking forward to enjoying his stuff often in the future.

Josh Manchester of The Adventures of Chester rounded out the early arrivals in Greensboro.  He is a marine who served for a while in Iraq.  Like the others, Josh was articulate and intelligent.  His comments kept my attention both in our discussions Friday night and on the panel Saturday morning.  Right now, he is hoping to build his blog, his column at TCSDaily, and other writing gigs into a full-time vocation.  I wish him the best.  If there's anyone looking for writing talent, he would be a great prospect.

John Ham's daughter, Mary Katherine of Townhall.com arrived later Friday night.  The label of "rising star" is definitely not misplaced on her.  She is friendly and smart, a social bug with a head on her shoulders.  Look for her to keep rising.  Maybe she can take Elizabeth Dole's spot in a few years.  Her insider relationships with politicians and pundits in Washington provided some of the most insightful commentary of the entire weekend.

All in all, I was struck most by the intelligence of these bloggers.  It is not by accident that these guys are so popular in the blogosphere.  They are true talents - both with the keypad and as speakers.  I left there thinking that I had been among some pretty tall cotton, intellectually speaking.  I encourage my readers to make a habit of visiting these guys often.  You will be entertained and enriched if you do.

I didn't get the chance to interact much with the other panelists, but I did want to point them out.  Jeff Taylor of Charlotte's The Meck Deck clearly had the best voice among all the panelists.  He has done some radio in the past and certianly displayed a wealth of knowledge during our panel's discussion time.  And Sam Hieb of Sam's Notes rounded out the earlier panel.  He added a more local point of view to the discussion.

Finally, I'd like to express my deep thanks to Jon Ham, John Hood, and Corey Hanson of the John Locke Foundation for hosting the conference and for the invitation to take part in it.  I hope it will continue year after year and grow larger and larger as time passes.  You guys are doing a fantastic and important job.

posted by Scott Elliott at 9:10am 10/09/06 ::
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