Politics in Action at the 2012 AAPC Pollie Awards

I was in Austin for a few days, attending the 2012 American Association of Political Consultants Pollie Awards and annual conference. Remember a few weeks ago when I went to San Francisco and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to talk with the California Republican Party (CRP) ‘establishment’?

Yeah, that was a walk in the park in terms of comfort zones compared to this shindig. This is the kind of event that honors James Carville. In fact, it’s the exact kind of event that honors James Carville, because the Ragin’ Cajun was inducted into the AAPC Hall of Fame, alongside Paul Begoda and Karl Rove. Eclectic group, huh?

At grassroots/activist events, the conference goers are all on fire for America, because … the Constitution! I love these people. They are my homeys. At the CRP thing in San Francisco, I mostly saw the same sort of the thing, just with titles like ‘GOP County Chair’ instead of ‘Beginner Blogger.’ I won’t pretend to equate that with all CRP things, and I especially can’t speak for GOP events in other states. I’m guessing the GOP varies greatly from California to Texas to New York to Vermont.

Republicans in Vermont. *snort*

Anyway. This was a whole new ballgame. These were … political consultants. What the heck do political consultants do? They help candidates win. Well, the good ones do, anyway.

It would be awesome if elections and campaigns were all about the message, the integrity of the candidate, and doing what’s best for our communities and country as a whole. The reality is, as my friend Brittany Cohan likes to say, is that politics is a game.

Only one thing wins elections – votes. Elections are number games. How many registered voters are in the constituency? How many voters intend to vote this cycle? How have they voted in the past? Can their vote be counted on? What’s it going to take to win the votes? It doesn’t matter if you’re the second coming yourself, if you don’t get the votes, you don’t win the election.

If politics is a game, and the candidate is the starting pitcher or the star quarterback, then the consultant is the coach. That’s a pretty loose analogy, especially given my (extremely) limited knowledge of sports, but it’s just something to give you a little bit of a picture of what happens in campaigns.

Maybe the candidate is the team owner … someone is going to have to help me out with my sports analogies…

The consultants analyze the numbers and come up with a strategy to win the votes. That’s why Karl Rove is always going on Fox News with his whiteboard and talking numbers. I’ve always understood that this is how it works, but it was cool to watch the really real professionals at work.

Because I was in Austin, Ashley Sewell drove in from Fort Worth. Because, duh, it’s Jenny and Ashley. Since Ms. Sewell and I were together in Texas, our favorite former Texas Railroad Commissioner and current congressional candidate Michael Williams met us for drinks. Since I was in Austin in the first place because Justin Hart brought me out to do some social media stuff and meet with some people, he joined up with us too. Then Justin’s CEO Ravi Singh stopped by to say hello, and he got to talking to Michael about his campaign.

Ravi’s company, ElectionMall, does this really cool Campaign Cloud thing. They got together with Microsoft to create this service that organizes campaign tools (social media, blast emails, donor lists, etc.), and makes them accessible through one login. They pretty much rule when it comes to managing campaign technology.

The conversation went something like this:

“Tell me about the race – what’s the seat?”

“U.S. Congress. District 33.”

“What’s the breakdown?”

“New seat. One of the four that Texas picked up in the census. The area voted for McCain in 2008.”

“How many candidates?”

“Eleven.”

“Ouch.”

“I know.”

“Ok, well how many votes do you need to win?”

Then they talked about some different strategies to get the vote out, how they could win over the independents, and how they could get sometimes voters to commit to going to the polls on Election Day. It was totally fascinating to watch, and a good reminder that if we want to win races and send conservative politicians to Washington, we have to play the game.

We need more than solid candidates. We need effective strategies and tools to gain supporters and get them to the polls on Election Day. That’s how we win.

Twitter Fun & Creepiness with #ILikeObamacare & #Gen44

On Friday, I had a lot of fun on Twitter with the #ILikeObamacare hashtag initiated by Team Obama to celebrate the second anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). As predicted, conservatives took over the thread, offering sarcastic reasons for why they liked Obamacare.

Here are some tweets that I sent out, just to give you a feeling for the game:

Because crappy care for all is better than excellent care for ANYONE willing to pay their bills. #ILikeObamacare

Because people w/ weight problems should have their care limited. Just like in Britain. #ILikeObamacare

#ILikeObamacare Because the DMV is AWESOME.

One of my favorite tweets I saw was from my friend Jon Gabriel, who said, #ILikeObamacare because a guy who can’t even protect a Twitter hashtag thread should be great at protecting my health.”

Then I got caught up in life getting ready for Thing 2’s birthday on Saturday, driving Thing 1 to and from a birthday party, and hosting an impromptu dinner party, because hey, why not?

Way too much fun was had at dinner Friday night, so I woke up with a fairly wicked hangover on Saturday morning. Whoops. All of my energy went into making Thing 2’s morning at the farmer’s market special, wrapping presents, and generally showering her with birthday love.

I finally hopped on Twitter yesterday evening to see what was going on, and I noticed a new hashtag flying by: #Gen44. So I asked my followers what the deal was, and they said it was the latest fail from Team Obama. I forced myself over to www.BarackObama.com, where I learned that Gen44 is the under-40 demographic.

So what’s the deal with the 44?

Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. I felt slightly nauseated. So I tweeted, “I threw up in my mouth a little upon discovering that Obama has named my generation after himself. #gen44

Seriously, you guys, this is not cool. This dude is so egotistical and out of touch with reality that it’s kinda scary. Obama wants us under-40s to volunteer our time, efforts, and cash to “ensure that President Obama and Democrats have the resources and infrastructure needed to implement the change we believe in.”

A movement shouldn’t be about a leader; it should focus on a cause. How do we know what President Obama really feels or wants for our country? He is always saying one thing and doing another. No one knows where he stands on anything. Why would an entire generation place their faith and trust in one man, and even refer to themselves by his moniker?

What does the president mean when he says we need to ensure that he has the resources needed to bring about change? What kind of change? What happened to compromise, and all that across-the-aisle stuff they’re always touting? Is Obama saying that Gen44 needs to rally together to obliterate the Republicans? That sounds a bit totalitarian, if you ask me.

I am not comfortable handing over resources to one person so that they can ‘change things’ and ‘take care of me.’ I’d rather my president step back, rein in the government from interfering with my life and finances, and trust me to make the best decisions for myself and my family.

I am not Gen44. I am Generation Independent.

Guess Who Was On the Really Real Radio? Hint: It Was Me.

I got to spend Friday afternoon hanging out in Hugh Hewitt’s office. His radio office, that is, not his law office, which I have no desire to visit as I hope to never need a trial attorney. But if I did, I’d try to get Hugh Hewitt to represent me, because dang that dude is smart.

But I’d rather not need a trial lawyer.

Anyway. I got to bum around the recording studio for the Hugh Hewitt Show, which was being guest-hosted that day by my friend Larry O’Connor. Friday morning, when I was in the middle of doing Top 7 with Ashley, Larry pinged me to ask if I wanted to do a segment on the show. Um, hello, yes please.

So I said something along the lines of, “YEESSSSS!!!” and then told him that next time he hosted to give me some notice because I wouldn’t mind driving up to LA to go in-studio. Larry told me that it was Irvine, not LA, and I had an invitation. Irvine is way closer to San Diego than LA. It just so happened that Leif was working from home, so I didn’t have to worry about the kids, and I asked him if he minded if I went, and he said, “Go! Be smart. Be funny. Be cute. Be you.”

Side note – I love that man.

Wrapped up Top 7, hopped in the shower, did some quick hair and make-up, then hit the road. When I got there, it was 2:55, and the show started at 3. I called Larry to find out where exactly I was going, and he came out to get me, and then we RAN back to the studio, where he fell into the chair behind the mic just in time to start hosting a nationally syndicated talk radio show.

Sometimes my timing is impeccable.

Hugh wasn’t there, but his crew was, and it was lovely to meet them. I’ve been following his producer Duane Patterson for a while on Twitter, but I didn’t think he’d have any clue who I was, because really, why would he?

“Hi, I’m Jenny! Nice to meet you!”

“Duane,” he said, shaking my hand, and then added with a wink and a smile, “This is Salem. You can’t say dipsh!t on air.”

In case you didn’t know (and I didn’t until last summer), Salem is the Christian broadcasting network that runs The Hugh Hewitt Show. And on Thursday night, Duane had been on Larry’s regular Internet radio show. And Thursday is when I do my weekly Quickie with Jenny on The Larry O’Connor Show. And I had said that particular cuss word on that particular show, which is actually pretty unusual for me. I rarely cuss on air or in print, saving those words for the most impact when the situation calls for it. It totally called for it on Thursday.

So now I’m apparently the girl that says dipsh!t on the radio. But I do know better than to do that on a Salem drive time show. Give me some credit, Duane!

It was all kinds of awesome watching the behind the scenes stuff … Adam with the hand signals from the room with all kinds of technical-looking equipment, Duane with the 30-second warnings in the headphones, Larry forgetting to push the button to bring a caller on, because he’s used to his producer Meredith Dake doing that for him … it was very cool.

During the second hour, a real-live congressman came in for a live interview, and I got to sit right next to him. Representative John Campbell was a peach, and it makes me happy that there are people like him in Congress. When he came in, Larry introduced me as a Mom Blogger, which is basically what I am, which also means that while I was listening to the show in Hugh Hewitt’s office, I was on my laptop tweeting, chatting in the Hughniverse chat room, and taking notes for an article I have due Monday morning on the whole Newt vs. Mitt thing since that’s what they were talking about.

When we cut to break, Congressman Campbell looked over at me and asked, “I don’t mean to be nosey, but what are you doing over there?”

‘This? This is what I do. Talk to people on Twitter and in chat rooms. Write stuff. I’m going to be on the radio in the next hour, I do that too. I. Love. My. Job.”

Then we talked about Twitter a little bit more, and I told him he should use it more to communicate, and also warned him against ever sending DMs, because as Anthony Weiner knows, sometimes you mess up and send pictures of your junk out to the world instead of as a DM. It’s better to just avoid it if you’re a public figure.

Then again, John Campbell doesn’t seem like the type to do that anyway.

So I finally got to go on the radio with Larry, and what did I end up saying?

“I’ve been lobbying my husband for a sister wife.”

“Newt makes my eye twitch.”

“She insists on looking like a dude, and I don’t understand it.” 

Clearly, I am a ridiculous person. But y’all already knew that, right?

Happy listening!

Jenny on Hugh

Top 7 for the Week of January 6th

This week, Ashley and I talked about:

  1. GOP Primary Update After the Iowa Caucuses
  2. Facebook Apologizes For Removing Abortion Instructions
  3. The Economy and the Latest Jobs Numbers
  4. Parenting (and MTV)
  5. The Department of Transportation and Transparency
  6. Sharks Fins You Eat
  7. Hybrid Sharks That Will Eat You
Plus we have a dirty joke from Eli, a rant, and a dude of the week. Happy listening!

Listen to internet radio with Top 7 on Blog Talk Radio

Iowa Impressions

I’m currently freezing my hiney off in Des Moines, chasing down candidates and talking to Iowans about the balmy weather, which candidate they’ll vote for tomorrow night, and life in general. Despite the cold, I’ve got to say that my biggest impression of Iowa so far is the people.

Simply put, the people I’ve met here are some of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met in my entire life.  I’m so fortunate to get to travel semi-regularly for my job, so I’ve been to a lot of places over the past couple of years. Every city has its perks, and it’s the friendly people that win Des Moines over for me.

Silly example, but it paints a picture: I went to Target this morning to pick up a new pair of shades, and when I checked out, the salesgirl took out a small pair of scissors and handed them to me to cut the tag off. I didn’t even have to ask! What a sweetheart.

Later I was out at a Michele Bachmann meet-and-greet, and got to chat with some of the locals. I asked them how they felt about the hullaballoo surrounding the caucuses, and they all said that they loved it. The excitement, the boon to the economy, the opportunity to be first in the nation … the reasons varied from person to person, but they were all happy to have the candidates, the media and (in my case) media wannabes there.

Even the Democrats are sweet. On the plane on the way in, I got to chatting with a sweet lady probably old enough to be my grandmother. She mentioned that she was hosting a caucus, and I asked her where abouts. “Oh, it will just be a small one; it’s for the Democrats,” she told me.

“Oh yeah, definitely a quiet year for that … I’m on the other side of the aisle, myself,” I (awkwardly) responded. She just patted my hand and said, “That’s ok, Dear.”

Perhaps the best story of all comes from my friends Larry and Meredith, who were driving from Chicago to Des Moines on Saturday when they stopped for gas in Davenport, which I assume is somewhere between Point A and Point B, but I was never very good at geography. Somehow, Meredith’s suitcase got left at the gas station, and it wasn’t missed until they made it all the way to Des Moines.

They called the local police, and they actually sent a car out to look for it. On New Year’s Eve. Super nice, but unfortunately the bag wasn’t there. However, someone had picked it up, and called the number on the tag. They made arrangements to make arrangements the next day to go get the bag (several hours away), but one of the security guys working the convention center overheard their plight.

It turns out that wonderful Jim, security guy extraordinaire and knight with a shiny badge, had a daughter visiting her boyfriend in Davenport that was driving home the next day, and did they want her to pick up the bag and bring it home with her? It is now Sunday evening, and I’m happy to report that Meredith and her luggage have been reunited thanks to the kindness of Iowans.

Iowa, you may be colder than a penguin’s toes, but your warm-hearted people more than make up for it.

Elsewhere on the Internet

Hey guys! What’s up? Has it been long enough since I’ve done a wrap-up post? Could it be any longer?

Sorry. I’ve been watching Friends on Nick-at-Nite recently, and Chandler Bing’s quirky personality seems to have rubbed off on me. And yes, I just said Friends is on Nick-at-Nite. Could I feel any older?

Dang. Did it again.

Anyway, I wrote some stuff for other sites recently, and you should read it. Or at least click on it, because honestly, the web traffic monitors won’t know if you don’t read it. But really, you should read. It’s good stuff! And then you should send links to your friends and family. Because the best advertising is word of mouth, and if all eight of my readers sent my links to two people each, and then those people sent them to two people each, and so on and so forth, I’d be crowned Queen of the Internet by 2013.

Nevermind. That sounds dirty. Moving on.

Stuff to click read:

PETA sued SeaWorld because they’re enslaving Shamu. Seriously. I can’t make this crap up.

Did Men’s Wearhouse support the Occupy kids, or was it just a ploy to avoid vandalism? Hmmm…

Should homosexual imagery be played during G-rated TV shows? By the way, my editors choose the pictures that go along with my articles – not me. Just wanted to make that clear.

Gloria Allred gives me a headache. Can Herman Cain recover from her venom?

Mississippi voted down the personhood amendment. Not like that matters; it wouldn’t have stopped abortion in the least.

And I have a few Glee updates on Big Hollywood:

‘Glee’ Recap 11/1/2011: Baby Mama Drama, Poking Fun at Bachmann’s Campaign Style

Last Night on Glee, 11/09/11: Gay Teen Sex — Let the Controversy Begin!

Last Night on ‘Glee’ 11/15/2011: ‘Angry White People’ Edition

Happy reading!

Elsewhere On the Internet (and an Early Morning Story)

It’s 5:15 a.m. and I’m awake. I’ve been waking up at 4 recently, unable to go back to bed after my third bathroom trip of the night (thank you, childbirth) because by that time I’m no longer exhausted enough to drown out my darling husband’s snores with sleepiness.

Side note: Isn’t snoring the worst sound in the world? Ok, maybe the third worst, following nails on a chalkboard and cats in a blender. Not that I’ve ever heard cats in a blender. But I can imagine, and it’s not pretty.

Sometimes I can jam earplugs in and throw a pillow over my head and find a couple more hours of elusive rest. But I’ve had this cold recently, and the stuffy nose and the cough and poor tender head make me ache while I wait for the meds to kick in, and by the time they do … I’m pretty much awake.

By the time the clock hit five, I knew I was done, so I threw the covers off and headed down the hall to write this very post. The light was on. Huh. Strange. Stranger still was the sound of the TV. Ok, no longer strange.

Here’s what I found:

This little goober didn’t go to sleep until nearly eleven last night, even though she was put to bed before nine. It was the same old But I Need game, which (I’m pretty sure) children have played since the dawn of time. You know the one.

But I need a drink!

But I need to go potty!

But I need my night light!

But I need socks that don’t bother my feet!

But I need a hug!

But I need a different song on the ipod!

But I need to be tucked back in!

You get the idea. Anyway, my little non-sleeper was out in the living room watching TV. Which she is not allowed to do on school days. Apparently, she thought that rule only applied to afternoons and evenings, so she forced herself awake after six precious hours of sleep to enjoy some tunes.

New rule: No getting up until 6:30.

Except for Leif. If he wants to get up pre-crack of dawn and leave me to sleep in peace … I’d be ok with that. Love you, Honey!

So I wrote some stuff last week that I’d love for you to read. Click, read, comment, share – especially share. Word-of-mouth is where it’s at, baby. Plus, I really can’t afford fancy advertising. It’s ‘spensive.

The Occupy Wall Street goons are still on display. President Barack Obama feels their pain and understands their frustration. Iran thinks they’re swell. Iran also stones rape victims for ‘sexual immorality.’ As a general rule, I like not to agree with Iran on pretty much everything.

Obama called Mitt Romney a flip-flopping flip-flopper, which is completely true, of course. However, there’s this saying that come to mind about glass houses and throwing stones…

Priorities in Topeka are messed up, y’all. Social welfare programs and inflated benefits and pensions are not more important than legally protecting victims of domestic abuse.

Getting Ready for CPAC Florida & Thoughts on the GOP Debate Tomorrow

I’m frantically trying to get ready for my trip to Florida tomorrow. I don’t travel a TON (maybe a few days every month or two?), but I swear these trips sneak up on me and kick my hiney into a frenzied gear that would make a one-armed wallpaper hanger stand back in awe and say, “Dayum, Girl!”

Clearly, my disabled wallpaper hanger is also gay.

Anyway. Between 18 zillion loads of laundry, tossing out anything in the fridge that has started to grow legs in a futile escape attempt (lest Leif try to feed it to the children while I’m gone), confirming with sitters and grandparents, and booking Thing 1’s birthday party because-oh-yeah-I-get-back-Sunday-and-she-turns-eight-on-Monday-and-we-were-going-to-get-her-a-bike-and-I-don’t-think-we-did-but-I-better-ask-Leif-before-I-buy-one, I thought I’d take a sec to talk about the GOP debate in Orlando tomorrow.

See? High. Gear.

Anyway. There’s another GOP presidential debate tomorrow (Thursday), this time sponsored by Fox News and Google. A cool aspect of this debate is that Fox News let viewers ask their own questions via their YouTube channel. I formulated my own question, but by the time Planet Quiet Kids aligned with Planet Clean and Presentable Mommy, the deadline had come and gone.

So you won’t be seeing this on Fox News on Thursday, but if I hadn’t missed the deadline, you might have:

Pretty much all the candidates are going to be into accessing our vast natural resources. Say hello to a million or more new jobs for America! Also say hello to lower energy costs and tighter national security. Who knows what the Saudis do with the money we give them in exchange for their oil?

I’m pretty sure energy will be discussed at the debate, because it’s such a key component to getting the cost of living down, and creating real jobs. With abut 75% of Americans believing that the economy is getting worse, not better, job creation is going to be the major issue facing the GOP candidates. Whoever is best able to convince voters that he or she can turn this economic train wreck around will win the nomination.

And if you believe the polls, that person will beat Obama in 2012.

Tune into the debate this Thursday, September 22, from 9-11p.m. Eastern on Fox News.

This Wouldn’t Be a Problem If Only I’d Married an FBI Agent

I hate calling people on the phone. I do it when I need to. This will be important later, so store it somewhere in your brain to save yourself the trouble of scrolling up later.

I had this US History and Government teacher in high school that I loved. Seriously. He was awesome. Everyone else hated him, because he did things like kick kids out of class for misbehaving or slam his fist on a desk to get a daydreaming student to pay attention. He taught the first amendment by walking into the center of the classroom (all desks pointed to the center) and shouting the F-bomb at the top of his lungs.

I loved it.

Anyway, there was this one time when we had to do this worksheet in class that had something to do with the gross domestic product and barrels of imported oil or something like that. Due to some sort of typo on the sheet, some key piece of information was missing. I heard him messing with some of the other kids who asked about it, telling them to figure it out.

See why I liked him?

Never one to back down from a challenge I’m sure I can win, I asked if I could use the phone. It was 1999 and pagers, not iPhones, were all the rage. Heck, most Internet was still line-by-line dial-up at that point. So the phone was by far the best and fastest way to get information.

I told you the phone thing would come into play. I hate it and avoid it at all costs, until it becomes absolutely necessary to get what I want.

So I called information and got the number for the Department of Energy. And then I called that number and told them I was doing a school project, and could they please tell me the bit of information I needed to know?

So I turned in my completed worksheet, and my favorite teacher, who seemed to greatly enjoy messing with his students, told me I couldn’t be done, and asked what I had gotten for an answer on that missing-info question. I told him and he looked right at me and asked whom I’d called.

“The Department of Energy.”

He stared at me.

“It’s, uh, in DC. I probably should’ve asked if I could call long distance.”

And then he laughed and gave me a metaphorical slap on the back and basically declared me his favorite student of the year.

That phone call was so worth it.

This post actually has nothing to do with high school or history teachers; it was only a story to illustrate how much I will only pick up the phone and dial someone I don’t know to get something that I really, really want. From the approval of a favorite teacher to getting Thing 2 enrolled in preschool to getting press passes to events I really want to go to.

Like the GOP presidential debate next week at the Reagan Library. Um, yes please, I’ll drive three hours to see the thing in person. Because GOP debate! Reagan Library! Rick Perry (we are like totally buds, you know)! I wanted to go so much that I picked up the phone and called the library to find out who to contact about press passes.

I was given an email address. Yes! I’m good at email! I love email! I did a little happy dance and put together a request and sent it off. A few hours later, I got this response:

Jenny,

Thanks for reaching out.  Due to the security level of the debate, only credentialed media with law enforcement credentials are able to cover the event.  I’m assuming you don’t have these?  I’m sorry if you don’t.

What the heck are law enforcement credentials?? Off to Google! Apparently they are a certain kind of ‘pass’ awarded by law enforcement agents so that reporters can go behind the yellow tape and to presidential debates at the Reagan Library.

Well heck! How do I get me one of those? My fingerprints are clean, I tell you, clean! I’ve never even done drugs! I go to church! Then I read: “Not usually granted to bloggers or opinion writers.”

I knew I should have married this dude.

Well what’s wrong with being opinionated? Freedom of the press! I may have ranted to Leif about it. He may have told me that I needed to make a connection with someone in the FBI. I may have glared accusingly at him and said, “This wouldn’t be a problem if only I’d married an FBI agent.”

He may have responded with, “This wouldn’t be a problem if those pesky presidential candidates weren’t worried about security and assassins.”

I may have won the argument with, “This wouldn’t be a problem if everyone were packing heat.”

As far as the phone is concerned … you win some, you lose some. I will face it another day.

Probably.

Elsewhere on the Internet

So it’s been two weeks since I’ve done a roundup for y’all. What can I say? This summer his kicked my hiney. Between the heat and the kids and the chores and Leif’s crazy work schedule … sometimes not everything gets done. Like the laundry. But that’s another story for another day.

So go click my links (my editors like web traffic, yo!) and maybe even give my articles a glance. You might even learn something! I know I did writing them.

Just after Governor Rick Perry announced his run for the presidency, I wrote about his jobs record in Texas. Spoiler alert: It’s better than Obama’s.

I wrote about the truth behind those ‘budget cuts’ we keep hearing about. They aren’t cuts at all. They’re an increase in spending. Only in Washington … sigh.

I never thought about this problem before, but how do women get bras in Saudi Arabia? They’re not allowed to work, and men aren’t allowed to fit them. My breasts salute America!

We need Social Security reform. The Ponzi scheme is going to collapse, and soon.

In Idaho, a man is being prosecuted for killing a grizzly bear that was on his property. The bear was approaching his family, which includes six children, aged 10 months to 14 years. Bottom line: People > Bears.

Environmentalists are now going after our clean clothes. Leave my fabric softener alone!

Happy reading!