Sunday, March 1, 2015

My CPAC Experience: Year One

I had heard all the rumors. The rumbling and grumbling. Yet because of my friend and co-hosts encouragement against all my natural instincts. I went to CPAC this year.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term it refers to the annual conference put on by the American Conservative Union. It's the largest gathering of  "right leaning" people in the country.

A short history. I attended a CPAC event here in Richmond several years ago, and left the building convinced the "CPAC Crowd" was not for me.  I was unimpressed with the faux display of  "bi-partisan" conservatism.  Even then I had lost faith (no pun intended) in our ability to win future elections because of the growing "Social Conservative" single issue voter.  They confirmed all the stereotypes in just a few hours and I vowed to never bother to attend one of their events again. 

This is why although I've been semi-Politically active and all over Social Media, I've avoided CPAC previously, and to be honest... all of the "Conservative -Cons".   However, my friend and co-host Jim Geraghty convinced me to give it another shot.  A "no thank you, bite" as he would say.  To say I had mixed emotions going into this whole thing is what we like to call a Huge Understatement. 

On one hand I was thrilled to finally meet so many of my Twitter Peeps and other "online" friends. On the other hand what if I ended up surrounded by the Santorum Wing of the party?  Nerves & excitement made me think of grabbing a Xanax more than once. 

Jim and I taped a podcast earlier in the week and once again he assured me that the people that I would encounter at CPAC would not all be chanting "Run Ben Run" at me every 20 minutes.  We even did a Pre-CPAC segment on this weeks' #TJAMS podcast. 

Other veterans had given me great advice about what to pack, where to eat and what to expect. So I thought I was ready. 

I was so wrong.  "In all the Right ways", as Pink would say. 

As I attempt to convey to you the whirl wind that was my first CPAC, just know I'm probably still not doing it justice. 

From the moment I arrived I was welcome with open arms (and an occasional tackle) by friends that I felt like I had known for years, even though it was the first time we had ever met in person.  Realizing I actually talk to most of these Peeps every day on Twitter.  It was a bizarro world family reunion with people You actually like. Hugs and Kisses..."So good to meet you"... then right into what we were talking about yesterday.  The drinks were flowing and all of my fears melted away. 

As for the CPAC conference part. I got to see all of the 2016 Candidates, if only for a few minutes, which was a cool experience. If you've any interest in right of center politics, I highly recommend making an effort to attend. There are the major speakers. 

Then there are a zillion (rough estimate) break out sessions and debates on every issue you can possibly imagine.  What ever your "Hot Button Issue" is... they've got some thing for you, education, entertainment, literally whatever you are into. It's kind of amazing just how much is going on all the time.  Think Vegas without the Hookers. 

Of course, I checked in on the Medical Marijuana debate. Of note, Gary Johnson was getting all the applause from a crowd that was building to hear Scott Walker. So take that for what it's worth. 

One huge highlight for most of the crowd and all of  "men" of a certain age was the appearance of a few of "The Avengers".  Captain American and Iron Man told me that it could take a Super Hero to save the Country. I believed them.  Then "Voltron" a/k/a Govtron reminded me of all that is wrong with big government, after my friend Neal explained who Voltron was to me. (Thank God for Boys!) 

Sabo, the controversial artist who created the image of Ted Cruz in "prison tatts" was also there, signing posters and making people uncomfortable with some of his wardrobe choices.  I'll give him this.  Hell of a self promoter that one. He knows how to get people talking about him without spending a dollar in promotions. 

Spent a little time on air hosting some live coverage for The 405 Radio with my friend Katie which ended up being a nice preview of what my dream job on Hoda & Kathy Lee would be like. 

The evening were filled with parties from all types of organizations and groups. There are no "cool kids" at CPAC there is literally a Party filled with "your people" going on somewhere. Because of some fabulous "Twitter Friends", I was invited to attend some incredible Bash-es, where I was able to meet even more really good people. 

Just when I thought it couldn't get better, I get a text from Geraghty asking if I would go to the Reagan Reception and Dinner as Mrs. Campaign Spot wasn't able to get a sitter on such short notice. He had just been invited to attend and needed a +1.  How could I say no? More importantly... Why would I?  

So all other plans get tossed aside, and I get all dolled up to attend the Reagan Reception, where I meet an entirely different crowd than I'd been exposed to... a little more upscale and invested.  To my delight they were just as welcoming and warm as all of the others I had met.  

With all the pomp and circumstance that you would expect at a gala named after Reagan himself, it was an impressive dinner and line up... it was also where they gave out many of the ACU Awards.  Just as dinner was finishing up, (I had the braised beef) they began the awards ceremony.  

The first award of the night was for "Journalist of the Year", the person who the voters of the ACU have chosen to honor for their integrity, hard work and real investigative reporting. As Carly Fiorina began the introduction, it became clear she was talking about the Man sitting next to me, my friend, my co-host, Jim Geraghty.  As he took the stage to accept this well deserved but significant honor,  it was one of the more surreal moments in my life. (And that is saying a lot) 

The crowd got choked up along with him as he thanked his family, talked of his boys and paid an emotional tribute to Andrew Breitbart.  Even in the spotlight it's Jim's nature to give credit to others. One of the many things that makes him one of the most kind and caring people I've ever met. I couldn't have been more proud or more completely stunned. 

After that we gathered with more friends who celebrated Jim's victory long into the night.  At some point he looked around, surveying the variety and genuine love in the room, said, "We are good people."  I couldn't agree more. 

Thank you to everyone who made this experience one I will never forget. 

I don't know how any future CPAC experience could compare with the wild and wonderful events of this my first time... but I look forward to finding out.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Domestic Violence Survivors Deserve Respect; Victims Deserve Real Help

Some of you probably watched the Grammy's the other night. Some of you bragged about not watching and some of you caught the clips the next day.  So I will assume that you have some idea of what I'm about to write, rant, whatever. 

For once I was enjoying the decent balance of Music to Talking Ration. More music less talking. I often find the more Celebrities speak the less I like them and unfortunately their work. 

Due to some issues with our new TV muting it becomes a chore that reminds me of the days before remotes, you do it, no you do it... any hoo.... 

There were some good collaborations, some bad collaborations and some truly exciting to watch collaborations.... (Hello, Annie Lennox & Hozier)  The one I had been looking forward to all night was the performance of the cover of  "Four, Five Seconds" with Rihanna, Kanye and so they say... Paul McCartney. It's a song I heard last week and instantly fell in love. But as I'm waiting for this Musical performance...something dreadful happened. 

Obama's Big Giant Head appeared on my TV screen, floating like the depressing Wizard of Oz. This kicked off  the "PSA" portion of the program, introduced by #PresidentNationwide (credit to @exjon) about "Domestic Violence" and the new program . Then...they introduced a gorgeous woman as a Domestic Violence Advocate to drop some beat poetry, Then Katy Perry sings. I can't speak to the quality of said poem or song as my head exploded at some point prior to that. 

Judging by what I saw on social media, people seemed really turned off by both the tone and timing of the President's decision to address "Domestic Violence".  

At this point I will say only this, I Googled the young poet featured on the Grammys, her story is both horrific and inspiring. What it is not is Domestic Violence. She survived a Sex Trafficking Ring. 

She's since written a book to encourage others dealing with Sex Trafficking related issues...that is Fabulous. Still has absolutely nothing to do with Domestic Violence.  As I've state previously, Sexual Assault also a dreadful crime perpetrated against women and men.  Also, Not "Domestic Violence". 

Does Domestic Violence mean so little to everyone in this country that it doesn't even deserve it's own "Activist Groups"? We the Survivors of real Domestic Violence are insulted that you can't delve into the complexity that makes our situation both unique and universal. 

As I mentioned earlier I was anxiously awaiting Rihanna's performance and was pleasantly surprised by Kanye's solo performance, a song clearly inspired by the the 3 most important women in his life, his wife Kim Kardashian West, their daughter Nori and his mother who passed away a few years ago.

The minute the PSA aired starting with the President, I was irritated. I hate when politics get injected into Real Issues. I also hate it when my Entertainment is interrupted by politics or social justice issues. By the time it was over Social Media was aflutter with "Because I Died" memes and people bitching about Chris Brown.

Because as we all know Chris Brown & Rihanna were involved in a very public assault case. Was it "domestic violence"? I don't know. But there doesn't seem to be a pattern of behavior... like you know George Jones was known for, if you know what I mean. 

There are Men who beat their lovers with their hands, others with their words. I'm tired of the Blame game and I'm ready for solutions. These preachy, ill-informed, heavy handed attempts by #ItsOnUs and #NoMore are Not convincing anyone of anything. They are not bringing in more supporters. Nor are they educating people. Worse yet... they are Turning People Off to the message. 

I'm not defending Chris Brown or anyone else who has been caught up in a Domestic Dispute that escalated beyond what either intended.  But I also think we need to separate situations involving violent behavior and the Stand Alone issue of Domestic Violence. 

The but they "meant" well sentiment is lost on me as well. I'd rather see results. 

While everyone spent two days wringing their hands about Chris Brown, Six women were killed by their significant other, national average is 3 women murdered each day.  That is what matters to me. I want that to stop. 

Chris Brown seems to be an easy target for everyone, because they can say "See I'm not like him"... well to be honest most abusers aren't. Which is why he is a terrible "Poster Boy for Domestic Violence". 

I want this issue to be taken seriously. I want to be able to help others avoid a life filled with the kind of pain I have endured.  This is not the way to do it. 

I understand that the natural instinct is to try and assign blame, The Abuser should "Just Stop Doing It" The Victim should "Just Leave" but it's not nearly that simple. Ever. What we need to do is to stop assigning blame and instead start looking for solutions that help both the victims, the abusers and the families devastated by Domestic Violence. 

The goal being to have everyone survive the situation...get out alive and hopefully happier on the other side. 

There is information out there for victims, survivors, abusers and concerned family or friends. Visit National Coalition Against Domestic Violence  for resources. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sex, Lies and a Real Problem

First let me begin by apologizing for all the Twitter references to all of you still living in 2009. I kid. I kid. Now to the matter at hand.

To some what I'm about to write might sound absurd. Ludicrous even. But it's true. Paraphrased with Names changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

There is a woman who rose to what is becoming known as "Twitter Famous". Like that is a thing... anyway.. I digress. This woman became "Twitter Famous" on the back of silly, sexy selfies. Those "selfies" went viral and boom she's got like 50,000 followers. It happens.

Apparently she got caught up in all the attention and "back slid" into an affair.

You may be thinking, Why do I care? How do you know this? And more importantly "Why Do You Know This?"

And You are right to be asking those questions.

Long story short a self-imposed "Tabloid Journalist" of the "Right" (or so he claims) basically pressured her into writing it all out in very, very long form on FB for the whole world to see, so that she could get ahead of this "Breaking" "News" "Story".   He let the woman know if She didn't "come clean" he would publish a hit piece on her.

You read that correctly.

So many things wrong with this story from start to finish that's almost impossible to know where to begin... You know I can get long winded so I will try and keep this short and to the point.

1. Don't make people You don't know personally Your Role Model.
2. Everyone is Human.
3. Being "Twitter Famous" is a thing.
4. "Judge not, lest ye be judged"
5. Something about casting the first stone in here too, somewhere.
6. People misrepresent their life on Social Media every day, See Facebook.
7. I'm glad I'm protestant more each day.
8. Not all Christians are dreadfully judgmental, but some who claim to be are.
9. Gossip is a Sin too...
10. I could go on for days.

While I can honestly say I'm not a fan of internet phonies and frauds, by that I'm not talking about the people like this chick. Who is maybe in her 30s? She's cute and she seems to be for the most part exactly who she has claimed to be a conservative wife and mother, she loves her husband who happens to be a veteran.

If you said "How can You say 'she loves her husband'?" You are part of the problem.

Relationships are complicated. Marriages are complicated. Military Marriages are beyond complicated.

In one sense You're correct to judge me, in that No, I don't truly know if this woman loves her husband, but I have no reason to believe that She doesn't.

Affairs happen (like all the time.) They even make movies about it. It rarely means the people involved don't love each other.  It's usually significantly more complex than that.

That said, the real problem here is that someone thought it was acceptable to 'research' this story.  It's not. There's no excuse or rationale that makes this a "newsworthy" piece. But there are some in the world so evil as to pretend to do "Good" while trying to ruin someone's family.

This hit home for me, as for those of You who know what happened with my parents... The community around them fueled the flames, sharing gossip with each other and ultimately my Dad.  The public humiliation was too much for him...

  • What if Ms. Sexy Selfie was married to an abusive asshole or just a guy with a "wicked temper"? 
  • What if Mr. I'm Loyal To No One publishes his piece and Mr. Sexy Selfie kills Mrs. Sexy Selfie? 
  • What does Mr. Self Righteous Asshole write then? That he's sorry? Trust me... it won't help. 

Thankfully, TF Chick's husband is supporting her in this unexpected attack and it sounds like they are working it out which is great. I wish them all the best.

To those of you still judging Ms. Sexie Selfie, just stop.  To normal people you sound like a self righteous ass,  to quote Salt N Pepa,  "There's only one true judge and that's God, so chill and let my Father do his Job".

Now on to the bigger picture, Mr. "Reporter" will be held up by the Left as the loony toon he is and shown as an "example of how Puritanical Republicans are". How "out of touch". And they'd be right.  About him and anyone who supports him on this issue.  That's a problem for a Party trying to reach out to New voters. No one wants to hang out with a bunch of prudes, who expect perfection from humans.  It's not possible. We all have our sins, our vices...there was only one Perfect human and he died a long time ago on a cross. Get it?

If you're still not sure why You should care.... Remember You or someone you care about could become The Next Target.    

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Walking Through Those Doors

It's been over six months since I sat down to write a proper blog.  It's not that nothing has happened. Quite the opposite.  Everything has changed.

Okay. Maybe not "everything" but y'all know how much I love hyperbole. In July I had a major surgery, removing 6 organs and countless tumors, including one the size of a softball I'm told.  But the healing that was required after that surgery that I had been avoiding for nearly 20 years..... it allowed me to begin to heal in other ways as well.

I have struggled with my weight since a well meaning attempt to medicate away my "issues" way back then... the Doctor (Miracle Worker) who performed my surgery was also able to properly diagnose some "side effects" of my PCOS and treat those as well. Long story short, Sugar is not my friend.  My body doesn't process it like a normal person, nor like a diabetic, it's just different and basically poison to my system.

One aspect of being self conscientious about weight is the desire to find "just the right" exercise that will *really* work for you. Over the years, that exercise has become Pilates....not that you could tell.

However now that the sugar has been forcefully removed from my hand...the Pilates is *really* working. I feel healthier than I have in least a decade... That is hard to even type, as I'm still working on my fear of the "H" word (rhymes with "Pappy)

As part of that healing time, I had  no choice but to focus on me and my "issues" as it were/is...

Another fabulous event to come out of the last time I blogged is my new Podcast with Jim Geraghty. Yes.  That Jim Geraghty!  I'm very lucky that he chose to take a chance on a virtual unknown to work with him on this Pop Culture and Current Events show.  Which he often calls the "shortest hour of our week"... You can listen to latest one here for free on Soundcloud, they even have free apps for iPhone & droid users on the page too.

I don't know what else is a head for me or for the show. I do however know that right now we're looking at some pretty amazing opportunities, as scary as that is to write.

However...... As long as God keeps opening doors. I will keep walking through them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My 15 Seconds Of Home Town Fame

Earlier this week, Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review,  interviewed me about the dramatic unseating of Eric Cantor in my district here in Virginia.  She decided to use parts of that interview in her column this week.  This was a fun moment for me for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I consider myself a dual citizen of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

It's a small world, after all....

Salena is also one of my favorite political reporters, she covers local and national politics with a voice that is seldom heard in the parroting world of media. We could use more like her.

Here's the Article:

Anti-Beltway sentiments cost Cantor job, analysts and voters say

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Process of Grief : More than 140

When someone you love dies it's a natural reaction to want to blame someone, some thing, any thing. I've lost many people I love over the course of my life some through drunk driving accidents, some through natural causes, some after long illnesses, I lost my own parents to a Murder-Suicide.

The one thing that each of these has in common? The pain is the same. You've lost someone who was a part of your life and they are never coming back. (Not in this life anyway) So it doesn't matter what caused the death, the pain remains the same and while many people speak of closure in my experience that is more of an expression than it is reality.

When we're in pain we lash out, we seek answers to questions that no one should ever have to ask, then when the raw scorching pain subsides to a constant dull hits you this is how it will always be.

Some people take issue with God after losing someone they loved in what they perceived was an unjust or unfair fact I've met many atheists who lost their faith this way.  Believing that if there was a God, surely they would not have allowed this tragedy to happen to them.  Not for nothing this is in my opinion a selfish way to look at the world, but I digress. The feeling of course is that if God existed he would prevented the loss, thus they turn their back to him.

People blame inanimate objects Rich Foods, Cigars, Booze, Cars, Knives and Guns for their undeniably painful loss. Heart attacks, Strokes, Cancer, Accidents, Shootings they all are the result of human behavior.   None of these things by themselves cause anyone to die. People and circumstances cause Death, like little else.

Why all the blame throwing? Because when someone You love dies it feels Unfair and Unjust. All you want to do is find a way to fix it. Or know "Why" it happened.

Convinced that peace and that ever elusive Closure is just around the corner, you seek answers. Sometimes you even get them. You pour through all the information available about the who, the why, how it could have been prevented.  Some spend days, week, months even years of their lives reaching for these answers. When you come to the end of that journey, what ever that end may be only one thing remains:  Your loved one is gone.

Grief is a powerful thing. It can be all consuming if you indulge yourself in it. We all know the person who has never been the same since, (Insert tragic thing here). Loss does change you, the question is how does it change you?

I have chosen to Live my life with a capital "L" as my tiny way of honoring the memory of those who shaped so much of my world,  but are no longer alive to share it with me. I've found my faith to be a comfort and a guide on days when all I really wanted to do was give up.

Will you give in to the pull of victim hood or will you move forward the very best that you can as a Survivor?

Each person has to make that decision for themselves, every day, every hour, some times it feels like every second.  But it is your choice to make.