Friday, June 29, 2007


Blackburn's 1st Blogger Conference Call

Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn's first blogger conference call. It appears that this is currently slated to be a monthly event, which I suppose shows how far the Tennessee blogosphere has come as well as how much Marsha wants to reach out to new forms of communication with her constituents.

The structure of the call was laid out to participants through use of an operator/moderator at the beginning - Marsha would make a few remarks and then the floor would be opened up for questions. During Marsha's remarks, bloggers were reduced to a "listen only" status, which is helpful since (having participated in a few of these sort of things in the past where there was no "listen only" status) I was interested in what she had to say and not which Tennessee blogger had a case of the sniffles or was eating loudly at the time.

Apparently, some people did not understand the structure of the call. The guys over at Blue Collar Republicans were unclear on the instructions (perhaps their blue collars were on too tight?), thought it was "listen only" for the whole event, hung up, and then posted rude comments about a Member of Congress taking time out of (of all days) Energy Committee mark-ups to speak with Tennessee bloggers. Not to get preachy, but it's moves like that which will relegate blogger conference calls to the priority arena of rearranging stereo wires and pressure washing the vinyl siding. BCR's accounts were followed up by Austin Farley and then Volunteer Voters, repeated as fact. Hopefully, retractions and mea culpas will follow today.

The call itself was a bit shaky, to be honest, due to its newness. When the floor was opened up for questions, I stepped up and asked about what the GOP House Members were proposing as solutions to the energy problems in our country, as compared to the radicalism from the Democrats which now treats the Energy Committee as the global warming committee. Marsha responded at length (as I would expect someone who has been immersed in Energy mark-ups), stating that the solution lies in a three-pronged strategy. It was the third prong - innovation - that I was most interested in, as I specifically cited Lamar's opposition (and it is probably valid opposition) to inefficient wind technology. Marsha proved to be quite knowledgeable on the advances at Watts Bar and the need to increase nuclear production throughout the Tennessee Valley. In short, she more than answered my question.

Adam Groves then asked about Marsha's reaction to the demise of the Senate immigration bill. If you have read her release on the subject, you pretty much know where she stands. I thought it interesting that much of the same language was put forth by Marsha Blackburn as was put forth by Fred Thompson in the past few days.

There were no further questions after that, and that is where the bumps in the conference call took place. I had more questions, but I didn't want to hog the floor. I just think that some of the bloggers without journalism backgrounds might have been a bit shy at jumping on in the first time. I do not expect such problems the next time around.

In any case, I enjoyed the call and look forward to next month's version. Special thanks to Congresswoman Blackburn's office for putting this enterprise together.

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