Thursday, February 25, 2010

Highlights

It was good to get back from DC. This week has been pretty uneventful, which was fine with me after the craziness of CPAC. In an attempt to capture some of that craziness (not to mention wanting to try out the latest version of iMovie on the iMac down at the library) I put together a little movie with some of the highlights from the trip.



Next week midterms are coming up, and then after my that I have Spring Break! My parents are coming down to pick me up, and then probably go on down to Tallahassee to see my cousins. At least if they get the check from the insurance company for my Dad's office burning down that they said would be here a week ago....

At any rate, my Dad is going to be down south for business of some kind this weekend, and my Mom mentioned that he might swing by, as long as the "Snowacane" that they are getting slammed with up there tonight doesn't stop the trip.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

People Are Much Easier To Hate (or love) In Person

Today was the final, and most star-studded day of CPAC 2010. We came in a little later than we had intended to and ended up listening to some lectures on foreign policy.

Next we heard Ann Coulter speak:












I had read one of her books several years ago and was looking forward to it. I recalled that she could be somewhat crude... but that did nothing to prepare me for her speech. Let's just say one of the girls I was with walked out in the middle. It ended up being more of a nightclub comedy routine. The question and answer session was redeeming though. She is probably one of the smartest people I've ever heard speak... or has a photographic memory or something, because she knows the names and current situations of even obscure local politicians that people brought up in examples.

Next Shannon and Olivia and I went to a session entitled "Why Real Conservatives Are Opposed To The War On Terror". This again highlighted for me the antithesis between the two sides of the Republican Party. It was a whole group of libertarian leaning conservatives who feel that the US shouldn't, at least under the current circumstances, have any military involvement overseas.

What's funny about the whole thing is that even though the libertarians decidedly a minority, they are so vocal that you would think the whole conference was about them. Just look at the straw poll:












According to this poll taken of CPAC participants, Ron Paul will be the next Republican Nominee for 2012. When it was announced however, about three quarters of the room started booing and jeering. So I didn't need have taken Social Research Theory and Methods last semester (which I did) to tell you that the Libertarians had somehow disproportionally represented themselves in the poling.

Shannon and Olivia invited me to go to Alexandria with them, but I managed to convince them to wait to hear the Keynote speech from the one and only Glenn Beck:












His speech was excellent, and none too kind to Republicans or Democrats, which in my opinion is a fine thing. The highlight for me, more than most of what he actually said though was the moment when they rolled his famous chalkboard out onstage.

The room was Marriott Ballroom was packed out. I was lucky to even get in after waiting about twenty minutes in line, and there was still a line stretching all the way to the other end of the hotel, and people being diverted to other conference rooms with video feeds. We left a few minutes before he finished to avoid the crowd, and as we went through the lobby, all the TV's were tuned to fox and there were crowds of people around them watching.












After fleeing the convention center and getting onto the metro, the fact that I hadn't eaten anything but smarties all day started to catch up to me. We still had a pretty long commute to Alexandria... which was complicated by the fact that Shannon and Olivia didn't really know where or why they wanted to go there. We ended up jumping on a bus that took us to "Old Town" which was cool. No sooner did we step off the bus and Olivia spotted a burger joint and the three of us without any discussion ran across the road and went it. It was great. I had a Cuban Burger which was a burger with a slab of pork on it, and ham, and some kind of jerk sauce. Definitely an improvement on smarties.

We asked the burger guys how far it was back to the metro. It was seven miles. We ended up finding out about a free trolley that went to the metro from Old Town. After waiting by the road at the stop for about fifteen minutes, the trolley finally came - and drove right past us without stopping. We ran a block ahead and I got almost to the door when it took off again. So we ran another block behind it. At the next intersection it stopped and took on a few passengers. Just as I got to it the doors closed again. This time however, I took what Olivia later said was a rather impressive leap across the snow bank and pounded on the door. So we got in and made it home.












It's hard to believe that tomorrow I'll be headed back to Bryan. So much stuff happened in the last few days that I feel different. I definitely have a greater appreciation of what politics and the media is like. I've learned several things. One, I've learned that people are a lot easier to hate in person than they are on a TV screen. I've also started to see why a lot of people hate Washington, and everyone hear. At the same time though, I think I feel what so many people find attractive about it; all the excitement, the atmosphere of things happening and media people rushing around. So even though it probably isn't good for my blood pressure, I would really like to spend some more time here.

Out Of Control

I think at this conference I have begun to see something that I had only sensed before. There is a big, and probably dangerous divide in the Republican Party. On one side you have the old Bush Neoconservatives, and on the other an ever growing Libertarian leaning group. There is an audible, visible tension between them here. It seems strange to me that they are both together, at one convention, in one party, when on many issues like foreign policy and national security they differ more from than they do from liberals!

I had an extremely full day today... and am too tired now to even begin to describe all of it in any of the detail it deserves. Here is the basic gist though.

We road the metro in and listened to a panel discussion on Jihad. Next we listened to a debate over national security vs. freedom.

Then, in the last session, we heard Ron Paul Speak. Both the debate and the Ron Paul speech got, dare I say, out of hand. John Ashcroft got yelled at during the debate, and in the lead in the session that basically introduced Ron Paul one of the student speakers got booed off the stage for making a remark against CPAC allowing the gay rights group GoPride to attend.

The Ron Paul speech was like everything I have ever heard about... like a rock concert. You can't imagine how impassioned people get during his rallies. He is definitely the most enthusiastically supported politician I have ever seen, and yet ironically no one would ever vote him into office.












Myself and Reagan:












After the conference was over some friends and I took the metro to the Mall. It was covered in snow and we were the only people of the whole thing. Here we are standing at the base of the Washington Monument:













Later on we went to the Lincoln Memorial, and then back to the conference to get some air mattresses we had left there. After riding the metro back to our parking garage, we ended up getting lost, didn't get back to our host home until late.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Into The Jungle

Myself and Sen. Scott Brown's truck:












Well, I'm now, after a certain amount of trepidation, in DC. We left Bryan at about 9:00am yesterday morning (already seems like much longer ago) and drove seven hours or so to Lynchburg Virginia. Dr. Clauson has a house there from when he used to teach at LU. The only catch was there was absolutely nothing in the house. I ended up sleeping on the floor in the attic.

This morning we got up, and I was preoccupied enough with putting on my suit that I didn't eat breakfast. We got on our way and went to Starbucks where I got a latte that ended up being about the only thing I ingested all day.

The trip went well until the point at which we we actually got into DC... then all hell broke loose. Our car had separated from the rest of the group, and we exited 66 in the wrong place... DC was still full of snow and we ended up driving at highspeeds back and forth through these little ravines that they have, taking wrong turns, u turns, and turns that couldn't really be classified as any letter of the alphabet {Note from one month in the future: our driver Zac, did in fact get a ticket in the mail two weeks after the trip}.

When we finally got onto Connecticut Ave. and found the Marriot we weren't able to find a parking place... we went into one parking garage... back out again.... We were late for registration and decided to just get valet parking and try to get the school to pay for it later... all that we found out however was that we were at the wrong hotel and the one we needed was around the block. So we eventually made it in. I got registered and made my way to the XPAC lounge where I was supposed to be volunteering as of an hour before. They ended up not having a problem with my being late, and I was able to work for a few hours that afternoon checking peoples registration at the door.

A FOXNews anchor who's name I can't remember right now:












So, as had been agreed upon, they gave me free admittance to the XPAC lounge, and I now have free food and internet access for the rest of the convention, not to mention a place to relax in an otherwise swamped an chaotic convention center.

The atmosphere is pretty overwhelming! There are reporters and politicians running around everywhere, and stations broadcasting live around every corner (FOXNews is in our lounge... Daniel and I are going to try and figure out a way to get on TV before it's over).

I haven't really heard many speakers between registration and working for XPAC. Tomorrow Daniel and Shannon and I have a few sessions that we want to hear.

It's interesting, ending up at the primary conservative conference in the whole country, when I'm not really that conservative... but then, there are a lot of libertarians here this year, and I can generally relate to them pretty well.

For the rest of the conference we'll be staying with a host family about 45 minutes out of DC, which is where I am now. It seems like it's going to work it really well.

So, I guess that's all for now... will probably post again tomorrow night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Leaving Soon

Well, tomorrow at around 9:00 am we are leaving for CPAC 2010. I'm packing my computer tonight, but I will definitely try to keep blogging while I'm there.
From what I've read online DC still seems to be under quite a pile of snow, and that combined with our already rather hectic schedule and arrangements is bound to make it a bit of an adventure.

As I understand it I will be leaving tomorrow morning, driving to a home owned by Dr. Clauson, staying the night there, going on to the conference, and then driving back to a house about 45 minutes out of DC where most of us will be spending our nights.

I'm pretty excited about the conference itself, as far as the speakers go. By way of connections with a Bryan Alumni who now works for the guy who is heading up XPAC, the young adults lounge at the convention center, most of us will be working an hour or to at the registration table and then getting in for free. This will apparently mean free food, video games, and possibly a short appearance by Ann Coulter. So... it sounds like a pretty good deal at this point.

Will keep you updated.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Road Kill Monkeys

After several attempts to get a ride to Walmart, I decided that it was time I actually walked down into Dayton. This is harder than it sounds, because there is a four lane interstate without any cross walks between Bryan Hill and the town. This had been enough to discourage me in the past, but I had been out of batteries for about two weeks now... so I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.













I took a few photos around the historic district. Here is the Rhea County Courthouse. It's claim to fame (along with the rest of Dayton and Bryan College for that matter) is that it was the site of the Scopes Monkey trial that paved the way for evolution to be taught in public schools. Despite what you might hear from either sides rhetoric or see in movies though, the reality is that the whole trial was really just a publicity stunt by the town of Dayton to try and encourage tourism and put there town on the map. Judging by the fact that Bryan College (named after William Jennings Bryan, the guy arguing against the evolutionists in the trial) was founded afterwords, and I came, and just spent three dollars and seventy cents on a latte at Jacob Meyers deli in Dayton... it would seem that they were somewhat successful.

Dayton is on a tributary of the Tennessee river, and there is a boat launch at the bottom of Bryan Hill, I think these are house boats or something like that:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Delays

Well, I had intended to follow up to my last post just the day afterword. By then, we would have hopefully given our presentation in Environmental Science, and I would be able to talk about how it went.

After the other speakers went overtime however, our presentation got moved to the next Monday... or so we thought. We arrived back in class Monday afternoon to ready yet again to give our presentation, only to find that we had either all seriously misunderstood our professor, or someone had changed their mind, because we were now not scheduled to go until today, which is Friday.

We finally did it... and I think it was definitely a success. Everybody seemed to think it was funny, and Dr. Eisenback was pretty impressed by the video... so that's all good.

I'm officially going to CPAC 2010 now. I paid all my dues, and last night I went to a meeting to discuss everything. There was a girl there who works for one of the political figures who is in charge of Xpac, the program for the under 30 crowed who can't afford the $300 dollar cover charge to get into the banquets at night. They apparently have a room open all day with food and games and guest speakers at night (I have on good authority that Ann Coulter will be stopping by). The girl offered us all free admission to Xpac in return for working the registration table for just an hour or two. So I signed up for that... free food, wifi and video games for the whole conference in exchange for an hour is a pretty good deal.

So now it just needs to stop dumping record setting amounts of snow on DC in time for us to drive up there next week!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Invasive Species

Ok, this video is for a presentation that Bryan and I are giving on invasive species in Environmental Science tomorrow. We filmed it this afternoon and just finished editing it this evening. I'm not going to post it on facebook until after we do the presentation, but since few people at Bryan (or really anywhere for that matter) read this blog I'm posting it on here.