So, anything happen while I was away? Well, we'll get to all of that in due time, but today I'm going to indulge in some random reactions from the Netroots Nation conference instead. If this sort of thing does not interest you, then I guess you should check back tomorrow.
These are in no particular order, and are merely snippets of observation without deeper meaning, so please read them with that in mind.
First up, Providence, Rhode Island rocks. Great little city, and they did everything they could to roll out the red carpet for us. The mayor showed up and personally invited us to contact him if anything in our experience was lacking, which was a nice touch. Providence even held a "waterfire" for us, which was pretty special.
Part of the reason Providence was so nice was that we were the only political convention in town. Unlike the last two years, the conservative blogging convention did not hold their confab simultaneously with ours, so we pretty much besieged the city without competition.
I met lots of people (as usual) who I'm used to knowing only through email -- which is really the whole point of going to a convention like this in the first place. Readers will be interested to hear that the most enjoyable of these was meeting up with David Akadjian, whom we all know and love here. It was his first Netroots, and he seemed to be having a great time. But we did miss Matt Osborne, who didn't seem to be there this year.
I wore a Baltimore Orioles cap for most of the time, even though we were deep in Red Sox Nation, but among the disgruntled comments I did manage to find a few other fans of the O's. Even with the Red Sox fans, we all agreed on the basic proposition that anyone is better than the Yankees, so there were no hard feelings.
Speaking of Red Sox, "Occupy Providence" took up residence across the street from our convention center, and their big issue was with the state of Rhode Island bailing out Curt Schilling's failed video games company, 38 Studios, to the tune of $116 million. Nothing like a little crony capitalism for ex-sports stars, eh?
Right before the convention started, we got a chance to see part of the transit of Venus across the sun, when the clouds cleared for the crucial 45 minutes, while up in Maine. Most of the rest of our stay in Maine was cloudy and rainy, so this was a minor miracle.
One high point was getting randomly interviewed by a Reuters reporter, and subsequently quoted in his article. Perhaps I should expand the soundbite he printed into more of the discussion I had with him in a future article some time soon. And the good folks at Reuters finally did get my name spelled right up on their site.
Saw plenty of politicians, including at least a half-dozen senators, and that doesn't even count those just running for office, such as Elizabeth Warren. Rhode Island's own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse seemed to be everywhere at the conference, and is definitely a politician you can sit down and have a beer with. Some politicians come to the conference to schmooze, some to deliver a speech and leave, but Whitehouse took the time to walk around and meet-and-greet pretty much everyone, which was nice to see. Senator Sherrod Brown also put in an appearance or two, and was wished well by everyone (Whitehouse and Brown are both up for re-election, but while Whitehouse is expected to crush his opponent Brown is in a very tight race that conservatives are pouring boatloads of money into). Brown is another true man-of-the-people, and really deserves re-election.
Personal plea: Whoever took an iPhone photo of my wife and I raising a toast with Senator Whitehouse and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras at the outdoor party, please don't forget to email us a copy!
Met plenty of other bloggers, from a whole plethora of sites, including a few from Huffington Post that I've never met in person, which is always fun. When wandering the hallways, you spend most of your time staring at everyone's bellybutton, in an attempt to read their nametag so you can figure out who they are. I suppose all conventions must be like this, but seeing as how this is the only one I've ever attended, it was (as always) a little strange to meet people this way.
Which brings up another point -- I never know what to say to the folks who recognize me! It seemed there were more people this year who recognized my name than the past two years, so perhaps my visibility is rising, who knows? But again, when someone says to me "I read your stuff," I never know what to answer back because everything either sounds egotistical or full of false modesty, so I'm usually pretty tongue-tied when it happens. If you're reading this and you bumped into me and said you read my work, to which I mumbled and made random squeaking noises, then you now know why.
It did impress me that one candidate for the House who was there schmoozing all the friendly press told me she read my columns. So if you live in the 8th district of Pennsylvania (the suburbs around Philadelphia, I believe), I heartily encourage you all to vote for Kathy Boockvar for Congress, as just on general principles I believe this country would be in a much better place if we can get more folks into Congress who, at the very least, read my Friday columns every week. Heh.
See what I mean? When I do try, it just comes out all ego-ey.
The best session I attended was called "COINTELPRO 2.0" on America's rapidly-increasing surveillance state. It was truly chilling. More on this in future columns, I'm sure.
I'll also be writing about tax issues in the near future, as we're gearing up for another deadline (and another cliff-hanger of a fight in Congress) right after the elections.
I guess that's about it. Now you can see why I don't "liveblog" these things. There's just too much happening to "take notes" while it's happening. I'll be back to work tomorrow with a real column, and apologize for the interlude here.
Next year's Netroots Nation will be in San Jose, California, which means that we will not have to pay any airfare to get there. Woo hoo!
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant