Free Markets, Free People
Well today’s a travel day and so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about the last two days before I hit the road.
A) I enjoyed it. Quite lively and quite a different experience. Apparently this was their largest attendance ever. Got to speak to a lot of people about a lot of subjects near and dear to my heart.
B) Great networking – met a great number of bloggers who I’ve read and admired over the years. Also met a number of media types which was cool as well.
C) The two people who literally packed the huge ballroom with thousands were Ron Paul, which came as no surprise, and Ann Coulter. Coulter was sharp and funny. She was asked afterwards during the Q&A who she favored in the 2012 race and she blurted out that the GOP needed to nominate Chris Christie or Romney would win it and the Republicans would lose. Frankly, that’s the scenario I see developing (Romney gets the nomination), but whether the GOP loses probably depends more on the economy’s state than whether it is Romney or not. Ron Paul won the straw poll which is essentially a throw-out and it’s the second place guy you look at. Romney took that with 23% and then it drops to about 6% apiece for all the other candidates (to include Newt Gingrich).
D) GOProud sort of crapped in their mess kit by doing a little name calling during the event. They killed a lot of good will they had earned up to that point. OTOH, those that boycotted were obviously not missed (see record attendance). Both GOProud and the boycotters need to grow up.
E) I wanted to say a public thank you to Tabitha Hale and Freedom Works for the outstanding job they did putting blogger’s row together. Probably about 50 or so bloggers there. Good libertarian contingent including Doug Mataconis from OTB who I finally got to meet. Anyway, taking care of bloggers is akin to herding cats but Tabitha was up to the job and things went very well there. It was a choice location with tables and power in a large room and a balcony a few steps away which overlooked the main floor of CPAC where bloggers could go out and listen to the speeches.
F) A good number of speakers and others came through blogger’s row and bloggers had an opportunity to interview and meet them. Yesterday former LTC and now Congressman Allen West came though and spent about 10 minutes with bloggers before he gave the keynote speech of CPAC. I like the guy (no Army prejudice or anything, heh). Here’s a link to the entire 10 minute interview if you’re interested (video).
Back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.
The first day was spent sort of getting the lay of the land, meeting and greeting (new acquaintances and old friends), the Rumsfeld lunch and a few speeches.
Listened to Donald Trump talk – entertaining anyway – and heard him tell the Ron Paul crowd “your guy doesn’t have a chance”. The way he did it was a true laugh-out-loud moment. He’s right, but speaking of not having a chance, well I don’t think “the Donald” has much of one at all. But it was entertaining to see him stir up the Paul crowd.
Speaking of Paul’s, I listened to Rand Paul’s speech and was pretty pleased with what he had to say. He says the cuts the GOP is putting forward are insignificant and unacceptable. He mentioned that the amount is what government spends in 5 days. He also pointed out that both parties have budget projections that add more than three trillion to the debt. He said that must be cut and cut drastically. 100 billion of it, he claimed, could come from shutting down the Dept. of Education and returning schooling to where it belongs – with the states and local school boards.
That’s been a dream of the right for decades, in fact since the inception of the DoE. I have no idea if there’s the will or the stomach within Congress to address that, but Paul is right – cuts must be much more significant than those proposed. But given that after promising 100 billion they came up with 32 billion in cuts, I’m not that hopeful.
He also said, in so many words, that the GOP and Democrats are going to have to grow a pair and address entitlements, to include increasing the retirement age for both SS and Medicare. He was mostly greeted with enthusiastic applause from the crowd. How enthusiastic they’ll be when it comes time to cut spending and move the retirement age remains to be seen (in theory it’s all important and the “right thing to do”, but in reality, people have a tendency to back off – especially if it effects them).
Another bit of entertainment occurred during the award ceremony for former SecDef Rumsfeld. One of the surprise presenters was Dick Cheney who received a standing O from the audience as he came on the stage (and after a while finally took the mic and said “thank you, thank you, now sit down and shut up” – brought the house down). As things quieted down someone – exercising his right to free speech – shouted out, “you’re a war criminal”. The crowd then exercised its’ right to free speech and, chanting “USA, USA” essentially drown the fellow out as he was escorted from the floor. Cheney’ reaction was something along the lines of “I’m glad to see we’re still having spirited debate”. Some have claimed the shouter was a Ron Paul supporter – I have no idea who he was.
Last night I attended a Freedom Works function where The Atlas Society introduced the independent film production of “Atlas Shrugged”. We were privy to the first public viewing of scenes from the movie. I thought, “ok, indie film, mega challenging book, this might not end well”.
I was very impressed with the production values I saw in the clips we viewed. The acting was well done and while not name actors, are all people you’ve seen before in various supporting roles in movies and TV. And frankly, the word that kept coming to mind was “lush” as in a lush production – very pleasing to the eye and in the clips we saw, faithful to Rand’s book. Got to speak to both the executive director of the Atlas Society, David Kelly and Harmon Kaslow, the producer of the film. They were obviously interested in our reaction. You can find info about the movie here. It is actually a 2 part movie and this is part 1. It looks like an excellent attempt to bring Rand’s most famous book to life on the screen and will, I think, give a new generation – a video generation – a chance to experience the lessons taught by Rand in “Atlas”. And none too soon.
More to come from today. I’m staying in Arlington and commuting so I probably won’t show up there until around 10 but won’t miss much. Dressing for comfort today – hell, no one recognized me yesterday in a coat and tie. As Stephan Kruiser said last night, we’re not social people and usually we do what we do in the privacy of our basements in various stages of undress.