How Much Do I Love Americans for Prosperity? THIS MUCH.

Have I mentioned recently how much I like Americans for Prosperity? Because I totally do. The first time I attended one of their events was Right Online 2010 in Las Vegas, when I was still a newbie to this whole professional blogging thing, and probably in way more over my head than I knew at the time.

Being American-y with Pamela Gorman

On that maiden adventure with AFP, I got to meet so many fun people – AFP President Tim Phillips, fellow San Diego resident and former mayor Roger Hedgecock, Arizona State Senator Pamela Gorman, and poker superstar Johnny Chan. That last one wasn’t there with the convention, he just happened to be in Vegas. But I totally met him. And looked like an idiot doing it. Oh well, it all worked out in the end.

The next time I met up with AFP was the following January, when my friend Erik Telford, their Director of Online Strategy at the time tapped me to teach a training session on Twitter and Facebook at a regional event in San Diego. I’d given speeches at rallies before, but this was the first time I’d be teaching grassroots activists how to do something that other people believed I was good enough at to do. Eeeek! It ended up being fantabulous!

Around that same time, I drove up to Orange County to cover a School Choice Week event. There I met Hugh Hewitt and Dick Morris, and got a chance to chat with state directors David Spady (California) and Teresa Oelke (Arkansas). I was nervous as all get out, but the people at these things are so friendly that it’s easy to feel comfortable once you’re there. I ended up writing a pretty solid piece in support of school choice too (one of my pet issues) too, so yay!

That's Spark, not a mimosa. I'd probably look more relaxed if it were a mimosa.

A few months later AFP contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in covering the San Diego portion of their Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous on a Government Pension tour. Basically, I’d be spending the afternoon in a limo with David Spady and Jen Jacobs, visiting various tax day tea parties around the county. Um, ok! Let’s roll. I wrote this about it, but I will always remember that afternoon for the most awkward photo ever taken of me in the back of a limo.

Last June, a year into my adventures with AFP, they asked me to come teach a podcasting class at Right Online 2011 in Minneapolis. I’d basically gotten my sea legs at my strange but wonderful job at that point, so I went to Minnesota with a bit more confidence than I’d had the year before. Plus I was teamed up to teach with Ed Morrissey, who is not only amazing at what he does, but also one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet.

Right Online 2011 was full of adventures, like finding the Target Mother Ship, eating the world’s most perfect sandwich at Hell’s Kitchen, and infiltrating a Netroots Nation event. Plus there was a piano bar, rooftop lawn bowling, and tons of friends to just hang out with.

After that was Defending the American Dream in November, where I spilled my blogging secrets with Erik Telford. I also met up with my boyfriend Abe at the Lincoln Memorial, met some real-life heroes, and made a ton of new friends like Melissa Ortiz of Able Americans, an advocacy group for handicapped Americans.

Occupy had taken some sort of force by then, and I captured this awesome video about shaking your booty for freedom, shaking it for peace, shaking it against the police. So frickin’ lame. Get a job, hippies!

She likes pina coladas ... especially in the pool at the Palazzo in Vegas.

Since then, I did another regional event in San Diego, this time with famed California blogger Jon Fleischman of the Flash Report, and last weekend I was in Vegas once again for Right Online 2012. Vegas was special this time because Leif got to come with me and meet all my cohorts.

Oh, and it gave me an excuse to see Ashley. And stay an extra day and hang by the pool with her drinking pina coladas.

So yeah, AFP and I are buds by now. I love their commitment to grassroots training and activism, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. There’s another Defending the American Dream summit coming up in August in DC. I highly recommend attending – it’s an experience you won’t regret.

Lost In DC

My Favorite Place On the Planet

So I’m in DC for AFP’s Defending the American Dream Summit, where I’m feeling all professional and stuff. I’m even wearing pantyhose! And I can’t get Dolly Parton out of my head.

Working nine to five! What a way to make a livin’!

(Sorry for the earworm.)

Except that it’s now 2pm and I’m just now sitting down to clack something out on my keyboard. Because I got lost in DC. I love this city, but man are the road signs confusing.

It started out innocent enough – 2 blocks down to the CVS to pick up some deodorant, because of course I’m a dork that forgot to pack it. Attendees of the conference; you are welcome. Then I decided that I wanted to wear my jeans today, but I only packed t-shirts, and that just won’t suit when I’m supposed to be all fancy.

So off I went in search of a Macy’s.

The very nice cashier at the pharmacy pointed me in the right direction, and I’m sure I would’ve been totally fine, had there not been a detour due to road construction. Crap.

So I did what any rational Apple-lover would do and whipped out my iPhone and pulled up the maps. I entered the address of the Macy’s after looking it up on the internet in the palm of my hand, clicked the walking directions button, and assumed I was good to go.

I walked the mile or so to the spot that my phone was telling me was a Macy’s. I could’ve taken the metro or something, but I love to walk, and I love DC, and the weather was gorgeous, so why the heck not?

Only when I got there, I found myself staring at George Washington University. That’s not Macy’s. Oh hey, I think I can see the Lincoln Memorial! Forget Macy’s, I want to go there and gaze upon the marble immortalization of my favorite president, and read the words of his second inaugural address carved into the wall.

I love doing that.

It was a bit more of a trek than I’d thought, with tons of detours and wacky signs, and I started to feel like I was trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Finally found it. Loved it. Decided to ditch the effort to find a cute top and suit up instead. Started the trek back.

And then I got lost.

And then I thought I was found.

Except I was still lost.

Then my phone said to go one way, and I’d go that way, only to check it again a block or two later and have it say I needed to go the other way. Then I’d turn around, go the other way, and check the phone, and it happened again. Those mice in the mazes deserve more candy or crack or whatever it is that they reward them with, because that job suuuuucks.

I know. I could’ve grabbed the metro, since there’s a stop right next to my hotel. But I never accidentally came across one (or I wasn’t paying attention), and then there are all those colored lines (not racist, I swear), and I really do like walking, and since I ended up wandering around the city for FOUR hours, I get to have mac-n-cheese for dinner if I want! Yay for cheese and carbs!

Obviously, I eventually made it back. With a new appreciation for leprechauns and mice.

Right Online is Less Than a Month Away!

Here’s some info for yah!

This summer Americans for Prosperity Foundation will host the fourth annual RightOnline conference in Minneapolis, MN on June 17-18th.

This year’s conference will feature leaders in government, new media, and grassroots mobilization such as Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Fox News Contributor and best selling author Michelle Malkin, conservative commentator and author Andrew Breitbart, Fox News Contributor S.E. Cupp, RedState.com’s Erick Erickson, HotAir.com’s Ed Morrissey, TownHall.com’s Guy Benson, the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, and many more. Click here to learn more about RightOnline.

I’ll be there at RightOnline and AFP Foundation has give me the below discount code for my readers.

Click here to register with the discount code “fightback” to receive 25% off.

For the fourth straight year RightOnline will be at the same time and place as NetRoots Nation, the largest annual gathering of liberal bloggers and activists. The national media will converge on Minneapolis to report on the latest news from both events. If we don’t keep up the pressure at RightOnline it won’t be long before the liberals get to go back to their tax and spend ways.

RightOnline will also feature workshops and panels hosted by experts in their respective fields. The areas of focus will include Online Activism 101, Advanced Online Activism, Tools and Resources, Investigative Reporting/Citizen Journalism, Public Policy Issues, and Grassroots Activism.

This will be a great opportunity to network and meet with grassroots activists, influential bloggers, and other representatives of conservative organizations.

I hope you will join us in Minneapolis for this important event. Remember to use the code “fightback” for 25% off.

Welcome to California, The Welfare State

California is one of the most generous states in the nation toward illegal immigrantsteachersthe unemployed, and single mothers. It’s also just about bankrupt. As the saying goes, it’s easy to be generous with other people’s money.

One of the biggest money pits that the oh-so-generousCalifornia taxpayers are funding is the state workers’ pension fund. California public employees have some of the cushiest retirement packages around. These so-called public employeesoften get fatter paychecks in retirement than they did when they were working.

The Golden State? The Welfare State seems more appropriate.

Something is horribly wrong with California’s pension system, and unless something is done to reform it (soon!) the pyramid scheme will collapse. Early retirement ages combined with longer life expectancies means that retirees often collect more checks during retirement than they did during employment. This is not a pension — this is welfare.

No one needs to retire at the ripe-old age of 55 and receive an average of 75% of their last annual salary for the rest of their life. California is unique in this, as all other states average salaries over the last 3-5 years on the job when determining pension payouts. Because of this ‘one year’ rule, California retirees are often able to artificially inflate their salary by switching to a high-earning job for one year, or cashing out years worth of accrued vacation time.

Read the rest at The Stir

RightOnline in San Diego

This weekend, Americans for Prosperity will be holding a regional RightOnline training seminar right here in my beautiful San Diego.

Join Americans for Prosperity Foundation for our regional RightOnline training seminar on January 28-29th at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. The training seminar will bring together an impressive lineup of America’s leading experts in new media, grassroots mobilization, and public policy for cutting edge training in online activism.

We’ll be joined by Conservative Commentator Andrew Breitbart, Talk Radio Host Roger Hedgecock, Fox News Contributor Stephen Kruiser, Conservative Blogger and Radio Host Ed Morrissey, and many other leading conservative voices.

Guess who one of those ‘leading conservative voices’ is? Some chick named Jenny Erikson. Hey, that’s me! I’ll be running a Social Media 101 session with guru James Hickey on Saturday morning from 10:00-10:45.

Tickets for the whole event (Friday evening through Saturday evening) are still available and only $40. Click here to find out more, and I hope to see you there!

PS- If you’ve never been to one of these, they are super fantastically fun.

PPS- Trust me, I know most of these people. They are not boring.

PPPs- One of them even has a mohawk. That is definitely not boring. Not even a little.

Right Wing Astroturf Bull Hockey: Let’s Talk Tea Party Truth

Despite what Liberals will have you believe, this right-wing activist, writer, and podcaster is not raking in the dough. I don’t even make enough money to pay for childcare, which means that this article is being written while two little girls climb me like blonde mountain goats.

I’ve been involved in tea parties; I’ve handed out fliers, I’ve held signs, and I’ve even spoken at them. I’m still waiting for that check from the supposedly well-funded tea party leaders.

I’ll let you in on a secret: There is no “leader” of the tea party movement. Tea parties were born out of the frustration felt by everyday Americans, who simply didn’t want to see their hard-earned dollars go to cocaine-snorting monkeys, let alone to pay for other people’s health insurance.

True tea parties — community protests — are local groups of people coming together in public places to peacefully show their displeasure over how our elected and appointed officials are representing us. What a gorgeous American display of first amendment rights.Hillary Clinton said it best when she threw her support behind citizens that dared to protest their government:

“I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic and we should stand up and say, ‘We are America and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!’”

So I get irritated when The New Yorker runs a piece on the Koch brothers titled “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.”

I get even more irritated when The Huffington Post links to the article with the headline: Charles Koch & David Koch, Billionaire Brothers, Bankroll Tea Party.

I hate to break it to the liberal rags, but no one is waging a war on Obama, and no one is bankrolling the tea party. Opposing someone’s policies and doing your best to block them does not amount to war, and just because some rich guys support the same cause as a grassroots movement, it doesn’t mean they’re bankrolling it.

If these uppity liberal journalists continue to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the rapid wave of conservatism overtaking the country is bankrolled by a couple of billionaires, I’d encourage them to look up George Soros.

After all, only Tila Tequila can have it both ways.

Cross Posted at The Stir

The Smart Girl Report – Episode 0038

Vegas Hangover Edition: I talk about Right Online and Carol Greenburg‘s infiltration of Net Roots Nation, plus Mike G. joins with hangover cures.