First day of Netroots Nation recap
Yesterday was my first day of Netroots Nation 2009 and it was full of information and fun. In case you’re coming to the blog new or missed my earlier post I am attending NN09 for a blogging recharge. Over 2,000 progressive bloggers from across the nation are attending this year’s NN09 and the energy is still there with the crowd. It definitely has a different feeling with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress. However, many realize this could easily change in 2010 depending on how the recovery fares or what comes of health care reform. Regardless, I think I have discovered my blogging voice and feel more at home around other political bloggers and progressives.
In a panel discussion with some of the leading pollsters of the nation attendees were given a lesson in what to really expect from political blogs and how to interpret some of them. Charlie Cook (www.cookpolitical.com), Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin (www.pollster.com), and Nate Silver (www.fivethirtyeight.com) provided their take on polling and how it has progresssed. Charlie Cook provided probably the best insight of the panel. Cook put some realistic perspective on polls, “You can look at any poll and find something done that’s wrong.” With regards to outlier polls when he’s asked about the poll by the networks he usually says “the reason it says something different is that it’s wrong.” Cook predicted that based on trending data and factors the Democrats stand to lose 20 seats at the 2010 midterm election.
In a session on blogging the economy a panel of bloggers hit on issues related to government spending, health care, and manufacturing and protectionism. Monica Sanchez (www.ourfuture.org) hit on issues associated with the health care debate. Sanchez said that one reason that private plans are opposed is that they will be forced to talk about quality and coverage under their plans. “With enough membership in plans health care can drive system wide change,” said Sanchez. Dave Johnson (www.ourfuture.org) talked about the decline of manufacturing in America and the effect of the decline on our economy. Johnson said that a strong manufacturing base is a sign of a strong economy. “China has taken over manufacturing and is now an economic power,” said Johnson. America needs to find out how to restore our economic power.
In a panel session about open government the new media directors for the White House and Speaker Pelosi and the engagement director for the Sunlight Foundation facilitated a group discussion on how to advance more open government. Jesse Lee, Online Programs Director at the White House, talked about how different approaches have yielded different results. In the online townhall hosted on Facebook about the economy one question about legalizing marijuana changed the message of the town hall. However, by Pres. Obama answering that question demonstrated that the White House is engaging in more open government. Jake Brewer of the Sunlight Foundation spoke about how access to government data through sources can possibly change the conversation as developers start building apps to leverage the information.
The day was capped with a keynote address from former President Bill Clinton who appeared on “Clinton Time” reminiscent of the 1992 campaign. Warming up for Clinton was Chuck Rocha, National Political Director for the United Steel Workers. Chuck spoke of his Texas roots growing up in east Texas. One thing you can say is Chuck has a great sense of humor and is very motivational. Finally the evening capped with Pres. Clinton coming on to speak to the netrooters. During the speech Clinton was heckled by a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell advocate prompting him to reply “You ought to be in one of those town hall meetings.” Clinton spoke about how we can work towards energy independence. Following on Facebook Colleen Casey made the point that Clinton should be considered to become our first Energy Czar which is really not a bad idea considering some of the great ideas Clinton has on the issue.
I enjoyed lunch with the team from the Burnt Orange Report at Primanti Bros., a Pittsburgh institution. A co-worker had told me about the restaurant located in The Strip and it was definitely worth the 8 or 9 block walk from the Convention Center. Big sandwiches and great atmosphere helped add to a lunch discussing Texas politics by a team I regard as one of the best in the Democratic circles. I had met Karl-Thomas Musselman and Matt Glazer before but never had the chance to talk to Phillip Martin or David Mauro. Phillip is a research fanatic and provides some of the most researched blog posts I’ve ever seen and David always has great insight into particular races and candidates that makes me dig a little deeper into the issues.
Today is more great sessions and possibly lunch with Mayor Bill White, candidate for the U.S Senate in Texas. The USW is giving away blue hard hats which makes for the best swag but I’m still trying to figure out how to get it home since the suitcase is full. Creativity time.