Friday, July 13, 2007

Experimentation on Live Fetuses and Rhetorical Glass Houses.

I'll tell everyone why I was impressed with the response I received from Pat Tiberi's office. It was an invitation/provocation designed to start me talking about myself. This is brilliant because bloggers by nature are prone to talking about themselves, and because it completely changes the subject from a very sticky topic.

Finally, it is brilliant because it succeeds. See, here I am. The reason I sent an email to Rep. Tiberi and asked for a response instead of simply tearing into the Flashpoints piece and trying to hang it around his neck was because I actually imagined that his involvement was pretty much as he eventually described it. As far as he's gone with his own rhetoric, especially since the election, an Apocolyptic End-Times call to Vanquish the Democratic Architects of Chaos hasn't been his style, and I thought he should get an opporunity to state what he didn't agree with before I rebutted those thing which he actually intended to say. Nevertheless, he has yet to actually disavow any particular bit of the piece, or indicate that he has asked to have his name removed from the contributor's list.

His defense, in a nutshell, is that bloggers in glass houses might perhaps not throw stones. I should explain that I did not identify myself as a blogger in my direct correspondence, but that I was confident that his office would be aware of the accompanying blog-post. Because of this, I assume, Pat followed that convention and did not identify me, the recipient of the letter, as the blogger who made the "tried to murder your children" post, while assuming that I would recognize that he indeed knew we were the same person. Understanding that, I translated that part of the letter as: "I can't believe that someone who told the world I murder children is lecturing me on out-of-bounds rhetoric."

This might seem like a reasonable complaint. It's not, though. Not really. I'll start with the principle which would apply if the facts were actually as Mr. Tiberi would have the world believe that they are. I will then explain why his facts are wrong.

The principle: I'm a blogger. He's a United States Representative. My domain is His domain is In addition to my name, I refer to myself using the name of man's closest relative in the animal world, the bonobo, most widely known for better or for worse as the animal other than man that shows a variety of non-reproductive sexual behaviors. He uses the title "Honorable" with a capital "H." It may seem like a disadvantage at times to a person in Mr. Tiberi's position, but we as a society hold our Representatives to higher standards than we hold bloggers. There are ongoing and often heated discussions as to what standards bloggers do or should adhere to, but I have never heard it suggested that whatever minimum standards are applied to bloggers, we should feel comfortable with our Congressman adopting those standards as their own. Any claim of equivalence is patently absurd. Elect me to Congress and you can be quite sure that I would hold my public speech to a much higher standard than that of the blogosphere.

The facts: I do, nevertheless, have personal standards that I attempt to meet, and my rhetoric in has been no more extreme than Mr. Tiberi's. The post in question is actually a post-within-a-post, called "Pat Tiberi Tried to Murder Your Children." The point of the piece was to simultaneously blast Republican fear-mongering, and point out the huge problems with the bills regarding detainees that Tiberi was supporting. The remarkable thing about that post, to me, has always been that I didn't just go ahead and post it as its own piece. I felt the need to blather on for a page about what I actually meant and how, as silly as it sounded, I felt the need to explicitly state the patent absurdity of the piece as a literal claim, before I actually let anyone read it. I was afraid that it would get quoted out of context and be used to smear the candidate I was supporting, even though I had few readers at the time.

Mr. Tiberi, on the other hand, later sent out a direct mail piece falsely accusing his opponent of supporting experimentation on live fetuses.

After the election, I have rarely (if at all) written anything with any kind of antipathy toward Mr. Tiberi other than in response to his own blog-like writings that have appeared on his House website or as LTEs. As always, consider the source, but I think that even someone who wrote a particular piece about Mr. Tiberi as a child-killing terrorist does have the moral high-ground to lecture him on this issue. I mentioned in a somewhat serious conversation recently that I was shocked at Tiberi's writings and his response to being in the minority. I thought he was throwing away everything that had kept him 15 points ahead of the GOP in his home district. It's certainly not my intention to help him out in '08 (assuming he has an opponent and needs help), but this armchair quarterback sees a thing like this Flashpoints article, and I think that cruising to a 20 point victory again is a whole lot less likely than it seemed six months ago.

So anyway, I don't believe that Pat Tiberi tried to murder your children. I never have. Pat Tiberi might or might not believe that you are allied with the forces of darkness and are scheming to use China as a new model for governance in the U.S., he just wouldn't necessarily put it that way.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pat Tiberi Replies, Gives Blog Feedback

From the mailbox,

a reply to this letter to my Representative,

that references this Republican Policy Committee document,

and this (unedited) Blue Bexley blog post,

much like I did here.

Dear Mr. Sullivan,

Thank you for your email concerning a recent Republican House Policy Committee document. I'm glad you took a moment to contact me.

As you are aware, I am listed as a "contributor" to the Republican House Policy Committee document Flashpoints, Vol. 1, No. 3. As a member of the Policy Committee, I participated in meetings during which broad concepts were discussed that apparently formed the basis for this document. For example, I agree that escalating violence in Iraq, incompetence following Hurricane Katrina, rising energy prices, and unfolding scandals all contributed to Republicans losing seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2006 elections. I was not involved, however, in drafting any of the specific language you cite in your letter.

While I did not participate in writing this document, I fully agree with you that there is, unfortunately, a great deal of disturbing rhetoric in politics today. Last year, for example, a blogger in my district attempted to make a political point by commenting that I was responsible for the murder of children. I think you'll agree that this type of language is not helpful as we confront the important issues facing our country today. Hopefully we can all work toward creating a more healthy landscape of political discourse where we can disagree, without being disagreeable.

Thank you again for your email.


Patrick J. Tiberi

Representative to Congress

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Arbitrary Milestones Part 2

Sometime during the time period beginning with me typing this sentence and ending with me posting this blog entry, Sitemeter will record the 10000th visitor to Blue Bexley. I can spin that number to myself as high or low, and certainly many of my peers in the 'sphere will understand just how big and small that number is, but it's not all that important. To all y'all, from the political staffers and media types, bloggers and candidates, friends, relatives, and neighbors, to the Search Engine pilgrims, seeking out information on Peter Yarrow, the Stripper Bill, Italian proto-mash-up band Slingshot, or the Old Bag Of Nails fire*, I say thanks.

I'd like to think that the traffic counts don't matter, and I really do hope that my writing isn't any more conditioned by traffic than is inevitable, but hey - if the feedback meant nothing, I wouldn't need Sitemeter at all, right?

I'll do another arbitrary milestone post on BB's first birthday. That should get them pretty well and good out of my system.

*The OBON website lists the Bexley location, at the same site as before, as 'coming soon.' Great news, and we can't wait (h/t Brian)

Vetoman, Vetoman, Vetoman

The last time this happened it was much bigger news and I stayed out of it. This time, I'm actually more ticked off:

Democratic leaders in Congress said they had dropped their demand for union bargaining rights for airport screeners in the hope of reviving antiterrorism legislation that had stalled because of a presidential veto threat.

New York Times, 07/10/07

First of all, every single headline on this story says that the Dems dropped demands, or made concessions, or whatever . It makes us look weak. Second of all, Republicans never ever hesitated to put the opposition on record as voting against Homeland Security. My suggestion: I say make Bush veto the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and let Republicans vote to support their contention that whistleblower protection is a bigger danger to the United States than terrorists. Let them argue about how disastrous for our security it would be to have union representation for TSA employees, and ask them how disastrous unionization has been for first responders like police officers. Then, let someone like John Gage, head of AFGE, give a press conference asking Reid and Pelosi to send Collective Bargaining Rights as a separate bill, because our airport screeners are worried first and foremost about our security, unlike Republicans who just like to kick labor out of habit, even if it means that innocent people die in the meantime.

In summary, throwing labor under the bus in order to save the GOP the embarrassment of an unpopular vote against homeland security might (might) get a security bill passed more quickly. At the cost of base support, credibility, respect, and possibly elections.

Summon the frickin' vetoman. Make him use the damn pen. Go from there.