3-22-2007 Who the fu>k are you?

This is fu>king rich. I am being talked down to, berated by, and having arbitrary demands imposed upon me by one of those internet assassins too completely timid to attach a name to their words.

I swear, if anonymous assholes were packed full with solid fuels, this place would be plagued by launch delays.

An Open Letter To Mark Cour

You have tossed around the word ďcredibilityĒ in your most recent posting. If the blogosphere has any credibility, or integrity, it is that we are unfiltered and uncensored. We are neither mouthpieces nor puppets. We are not aligned with a candidate. We write our own opinions, not party line chatter.

Wow! When did the ďjournalistsĒ hiding behind pseudonyms get all high and mighty about their pretend ďprofession?Ē When was the rigidly defined code of blogging ethics adopted? I must have accidentally deleted that e-mail alert from the Northeast Blogging Council? When was it that the anonymous were promoted from being electronic riffraff to being card-carrying members of the glitterati?

With very rare exceptions, the blogosphere is comprised of anonymous people who link to other anonymous people of a similar mind and a similar ideology. To say that 95% of bloggers are very, very partisan would be a gargantuan understatement. If thereís a lot of unfiltered and uncensored content out there in cyberspace, I think I missed it. Take a stroll through what the local bloggers have to offer and it becomes clear that the great majority of them are in fact mouthpieces and, or puppets. Although, they are entitled to their opinions no matter how they came to form them. The need to attack them never arises within me. Actually, I met a quite few of them and like them, save for one clueless party apparatchik from the Allentown area.

To suggest that I have to conform to some sort of imaginary standards is laughable bunk. And to demand as much is irretrievably stupid. I am not a journalist, and I am not going to be hamstrung because somebody doing much the same thing grossly overestimates their importance. I turned this thing on in 2000 and started writing what I thought about the local goings-on. And the sum total of everything that has ever appeared on these flickering electronic pages is the opinion of one clearly identified person and some of the people known to him that send their thoughts along.

I would never trick my neighbors and spoon-feed them propaganda in the guise of political advice. I have too much respect for anyone who has taken the time to read my blog. There are all ready too many disingenuous ďjournalistsĒ trying to underestimate the people and take away their rights.

To suggest that I am trying to trick anyone is utter hogwash. Anyone who has ever looked at this site has known exactly who I was going to vote for and why. And believe this, I am not so vain as to think that any endorsement of any candidate coming from me is going to seriously alter the political landscape. I write what I think and the vote tallies fall where they may. If my preferred candidates win, so be it. And if they donít win, again, so be it.

As a matter of fact, I have already gone on the record by stating that, in my opinion, Charlotte Raup is District Eís most attractive city council hopeful. If I was trying to trick anyone, I would not have willingly disclosed that I helped her build a campaign Web site. And just in case the usual activist suspects want to cause trouble, she rectified all of that as far as campaign finance reporting is concerned. Despite that early quasi endorsement of mine, weíve still got weeks to go before we vote. But before we do vote, youíll know exactly who I intend to vote for. Plus, I always document my choices at the polls by way of a camera. Tricks? Thatís certainly not my modus operandi.

Fact is, I could get a campaign Web site up and running in less than two hours, so weíre not talking about huge sums of money, even if any money had changed hands. And being that I thoroughly enjoy this internet forum of ours, if any other candidate that I did not totally detest asked me to help them, Iím fairly certain that I would assist them. This isnít rocket science, but for some it is exactly that.

I will no longer turn to your site for news about District E. I believe that you are now too biased. Whether you have taken money from Mrs. Raup or worked for her pro bono is irrelevant, though I have noticed that was one area not covered by your candor.

The upcoming council election is the most important event to ever take place in North Endís history. For the sake of our unfettered future, I kindly ask you to stop writing about District E.

BiasedÖyeah, I get that malarkey a lot. If I support Tom Leighton, which I do, some say Iím biased. Yet, if they happen to vehemently oppose his continued mayoralty, they do not see that as a bias. In other words, they are entitled to their opinions, but Iím not entitled to mine. Or worse yet, my opinion is somehow severely tainted in that special place where their particular brand of illogic ferments. If my opinion clashes with theirs, I am branded as being far less then credible. Thatís bunkum and suggests that there is a double-standard to be seized upon whenever the anonymous trolls disagree with the only person who attaches a name and a face to his opinions.

I think youíre overestimating the effect localized blogs can have on local elections. I have met many of the people that visit this internet oasis. The majority of those people often tell me that while they may not agree with what I have to say, they enjoy the way I present it. That and they also see it as a supplement to the daily reporting of the two local newspapers. Not an alternative, a supplement.

With that said, yes, we can affect the outcome of the local elections if we present documented proof that a certain candidate has enough skeletons in their closet to get the closet door to bursting open. And, yes, Iíve done as much over the years. It got me cursed at, chased, threatened and all sorts of really fun stuff. If youíre writing about local politics and learn that candidate John Doe is on probation for shooting puppies, you owe it not only to yourself, but to all of the people who read your site and care about their cityís future to disclose as much. The point being, weíve got enough problems without compounding things by electing complete idiots.

And what of ďmy readers,Ē as you called them? Letís not overly inflate our egos, or overestimate our importance. If my site disappeared later on today, it would be all but forgotten by the middle of next week. Letís not hoodwink ourselves into misbelieving that weíre but one mouse click away from winning a Pulitzer Prize, or being honored at a White House dinner thrown in our honor. Weíre never going to be honored, be presented with a key to the commonwealth or be imbedded with the troops when they finally roll into Iran. Weíre just a couple of nondescript people who decided to make our feeble voices heard. Nothing more, nothing less.

I really donít want to get into a pissing match, although, I do enjoy them on occasion. Itís just that I never fully understood how anyone who snipes from the comfort of anonymity could consider themselves on equal footing or on the same playing field, if you will, as those who attach a name to their sniping. A Mark Cour leaves himself open to all sorts of unimaginable retribution, while a Captain Blogman does not. I tell it like it is as I see it. But the Blogmans of the internet world tell it like it is while leaving us wondering why anyone with such strong opinions would be unwilling to own up to them. And that is exactly why many potential readers dismiss blogging as a less than worthwhile endeavor, as well as a less than credible source of information. Too many damned cowards.

As I blog about the city council elections in North End, I do so with an open mind; I have not yet decided on whom I shall vote for. The only candidate Iíve ruled out for certain is Virgil Argenta (for ethical reasons I will not vote for a man who has such a violent temper and a history of shady business deals.)

Okay, you found it so easy to smear the guy, but you find it untenable, unthinkable to identify yourself? How fair is that? Trust me, Iím pretty sure Iím not going to be invited to any of his parties any time soon, but at least I had the decency to identify myself when I also questioned his credentials and suchlike. He was provided with an opportunity to beat me, throw sticks and stones at me or a chance to dissuade me from my opinions, but at least my opinions being fired in his direction had some tracer rounds mixed in. If youíre so pompously big on integrity issues, maybe you could provide your targets with more of an opportunity to defend themselves from what they probably see as unfair and scurrilous attacks. Although, forthrightness and anonymity are not a comfortable fit, are they?.

As far as my subject matter is concerned, I reserve the right to write about whatever I damn well see fit, just as I always have. And the fact is, you never really know what youíre going to have to suffer through when you decide to visit my latest musings. One day itís a political observation, the next itís my grandkids, the next it might be about a bicycle ride and the very next it could be about how I kept hurting my step-dadís clenched fist with my then smallish face. Iím an amateur political pundit, a diarist, an avid cyclist, an occasional kayaker, a former punching bag and a little kid all trapped in a teenagerís body.

Iíll write about whatever I feel like writing about. Iíll endorse whomever I wish to. Iíll help anyone worth helping. And I really donít give a flying funk what anyone thinks about any aspect of any of that.

As of this very moment, I think Charlotte Raup is this voting districtĎs best choice. IĎve alluded to that more than once, which does not smack of some clever sort of ersatz trickery, or any detestable party line. And unless itĎs found out that sheĎs been the one shooting the puppies, I will continue to support her sudden entry into city politics. Iím not buying into this foolhardy claptrap whereby I am not allowed to voice my support for any given candidate. I built her site, I willingly said as much without any prodding at all, so there are no disclosure issues going on here.

And if I must say, itís somewhat infuriating to be accused of ethics violations (as if bloggers actually abide by any code of ethics) by a person who is so enamored of their supposedly ethically sound, highbrow political punditry, while being espoused from behind the undeniably effeminate curtain of anonymity. The anonymous can endorse candidates, the anonymous can make undisclosed campaign contributions, the anonymous can launch into personal attacks, but the folks such as myself, who do not cloak our identities at the sign-on screen cannot do likewise? Is that the worthless snake oil youíre peddling? Sounds to me like weíve got yet another Elmer Gantry pitching his valueless wares on the local internet. Sounds like it.

Instead of offering an inept missive about how the above-the-radar bloggers need to be as pure as the wind-driven culm, maybe you should clearly identify yourself and then tell us who you are going to throw your support behind and why? Maybe you should also explain to us ďbiasedĒ kinfolk why anyone who refuses to make their identity known deserves to be taken seriously, or even paid scant attention to. Make a stand. Be a man. Trust me, it wonít hurt, unless the people you find it so completely easy to smear come a calliní on you. But until then, until you decide to come out of that vast blogging closet, donít be so contemptibly arrogant as to lecture the likes of me.

Yeah, Iím an opinionated son-of-a-bitch. Probably too much so. Yeah, Iíve got opinions. But, Iíve also got a name, a face and an address. And until you can claim likewise, your fledgling efforts on the internet will never be confused with anything that even remotely wreaks of legitimacy. Thereís testicular matter, and then thereís anonymity. I chose my vehicle, and you chose yours. I walk tall no matter who recognizes me, and you walk tall confident in the knowledge that no one can recognize you. If you mistakenly think thatís a position from which you should be lecturing recognizable people from, fine. All I know is, I do what I do, I do what Iíve always done, and I do not care for a fleeting nanosecond what some upstart Cowardly Lion of a blogger may think about what I do.

My longtime friend Tommy always said, ďIf you mess with the bull, you get the horns.Ē And as things pertain to blogging on the internet, a cloaked bull has no horns to speak of. In fact, if you really want to make a discernable difference in any measurable sense, horns are absolutely mandatory. When the Times Leader published a front page story about this Web site early last year, very many of the people who pay attention to whatís posted on the localized internet e-mailed me and asked me how that came to pass. I told them it was a complete surprise to me, as what I thought was an impromptu visit of sorts quickly turned into an interview. In addition, some local bloggers who also blog anonymously told me they would kill for that kind of press.

Want my thoughts on all of that ill begotten fame? You cannot quote those that cannot be identified. And therein lies your momentary internet legacy.

Now, save your slipshod lectures for your fellow Cowardly Lions.

Sez me.