Rep. Culberson Finally Admits The Problem Is The Existing House Rules

from the about-time dept

Last week, we were among the first to point out that Rep. John Culberson was wrong in trying to paint a picture of a group of nefarious Democrats trying to block him from posting to Twitter or Qik. The problem wasn't the Democrats -- but existing house rules. We pointed this out both in the blog post and in a direct Twitter to Culberson. He responded to each, but his comments continued to insist that the problem was the new proposal from a few Democrats rather than the existing rules. That made it into something of a partisan fight, with a bunch of political blogs jumping in and supporting "their side."

In a NY Times interview, Culberson still seems to be positioning this as some sort of partisan divide, but buried in the middle an interview with Tim O'Brien (that he apparently did right after the NY Times interview) Culberson finally admits that he was wrong:
"I agree and I never should have brought up Democrat or Republican.... My goal is to shine a light into the Congress and I'll keep partisan labels out of it. And I'm going to stay focused on the goal.... The two things the internet has helped me do is the community has helped me understand to keep the partisan labels out of it, that's good advice which I have taken to heart. And the other good advice I got was that I mean and actually through this debate and TechnoSailor in particular, I think his name's Aaron, had some really good posts on his blog that kind of when you walk through his and a couple of other good blogs out there, I realize that I was targeting the wrong thing, that the existing rules make it illegal for me to post on Twitter, to post on a Qik website, under existing rules I'm operating in the Twilight Zone. So they're correct and it helped me realize my focus need to be that the Congress should treat congressional access to the new social media in the same way that Congress treats our access to the old traditional media."
It's sort of buried in there, but he does admit that he was wrong -- the problem is the existing rules, not the new rules, this isn't a partisan issue and he's already in violation of the existing rules by using Twitter and posting to blogs.

And yet, we still have political bloggers pretending this is a partisan issue. Being neither a Democrat nor a Republican, one of the things I like about most technology issues is that they're non-partisan. It would be nice if they stayed that way so we could focus on the actual issues, rather than flinging mud at political opponents.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Jul 14th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Never happen...

    > It would be nice if they stayed that way so we could focus on the actual issues, rather than flinging mud at political opponents.

    But then our legislators might have to admit they have no idea what they are doing. Making people angry and scared is all they know how to do effectively.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    It would be nice if more politicos would simply have the spine to admit they're wrong like Culberson.

    I actually respect the guy now and will pay more attention to his work in the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    John Culberson, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Opening up Congress to new media

    Mike

    The social media community helped me figure out within a day or two that the first problem is our existing House rules which probably prohibit us from communicating through an outside website. However, my initial analysis was correct - the new rule will limit us to "sanitized" pre-approved websites that contain no political or commercial advertising or opinion, we would need a disclaimer on each post or on the sanitized page, and the content of our posts would have to conform to House Franking rules which means each post would be subject to review/aproval and editing by the powers that be.

    Not unlike access to the press in the old Soviet Union.

    I listened and learned from the social media community, and then retargeted my work to a far more productive and effective area - changing House rules to remove all restrictions on access to new media in the same way there are no restrictions on Congress' access to old media. Plus the community correctly pointed out that this is a non partisan fight, so I took that good advice as well.

    Here is my letter to the House leadership which I sent on Friday, and I am circulating among my colleagues for their signature and support:
    http://culberson.house.gov/media/pdfs/Pelosi_Twitter_letter.pdf

    The proposed rule change will have far reaching effects. I will do everything I can to ensure that new media is treated no differently than the old media - this is the best way to shine sunlight into every dark corner of Congress.

    Thanks to you and everyone in the new media community who have given me advice and guidance and support in this important endeavor.

    John Culberson

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re:

    Same. These days, honesty is power in politics. Sad really. It should be the standard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Bobbknight, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:36pm

    Well Here it is.

    Boiled down, the McCarthy-Ehlers-Price proposal would:

    * Encourage, but not require sites like YouTube to set up commercial-free areas for members of Congress. While web behemoths like YouTube can easily accomodate this request, what about niche sites like Twitter, FriendFeed, Qik, or Utterz? As I'll explain below, a Congressional mandate would also be a taking of private property.
    * Allow members to post to any site they want, with broad, common-sense guidelines for content. So you still can't post campaign stuff no matter which site you're on -- which is the primary impetus behind these rules.
    * No "approved" site list -- e.g. you can post to YouTube but not Blip.tv, or Twitter but not FriendFeed. Government is bad at picking winners, but they'd be absolutely horrible at keeping up with the dizzying pace of Web 2.0 startups, where the landscape changes almost daily.

    This is taken directly from this link:
    http://thenextright.com/patrick-ruffini/republican-open-democrat-closed

    I agree that he house rules need to be changed.
    I also agree that no law needs to mandate who, what, when, where, why, and how.
    But as usual one side wants to do just that. I will leave it up to you just who that side is.
    Arguing for the status quo is not in the best interest of the American People.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Jim, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Opening up Congress to new media

    > "Not unlike access to the press in the old Soviet Union."

    Did anyone else read this line and think about Godwin's law? So close...

    Anyway. I really appreciate Mr. Culberson's candor in this issue. It is refreshing to see someone in our federal government embrace new communication techniques and remain open minded.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Opening up Congress to new media

    The social media community helped me figure out within a day or two that the first problem is our existing House rules which probably prohibit us from communicating through an outside website.

    Day or two? A bunch of folks, including myself sent that to you within a couple hours of you first bringing this up.

    However, my initial analysis was correct - the new rule will limit us to "sanitized" pre-approved websites that contain no political or commercial advertising or opinion, we would need a disclaimer on each post or on the sanitized page, and the content of our posts would have to conform to House Franking rules which means each post would be subject to review/aproval and editing by the powers that be.

    And now you seem to be purposely ignoring what both Capuano and Pelosi have said.

    I agree with your proposal to let Congressional Reps do whatever they want online. I disagree with the proposal Capuano has put forth, because it certainly does not go far enough.

    But your insistence on making this out to be about them trying to somehow silence you or prevent you from posting to these sites is simply misleading.

    I listened and learned from the social media community, and then retargeted my work to a far more productive and effective area - changing House rules to remove all restrictions on access to new media in the same way there are no restrictions on Congress' access to old media. Plus the community correctly pointed out that this is a non partisan fight, so I took that good advice as well.

    Great. I hope to see that reflected in what you continue to say about this issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Non-partisan

    "one of the things I like about most technology issues is that they're non-partisan."

    Intel, no AMD (what about Via?)

    Windows, no Mac (what about Linux?)

    Wii, no Xbox (what about PS3?)

    Not hardly. It's human nature for people to join teams.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 14th, 2008 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Non-partisan

    By non-partisan I didn't mean that there aren't disagreeing camps -- but that it doesn't align neatly to "Democrat" or "Republican" (those are the "parties" in question).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jul 15th, 2008 @ 5:47am

    Re: Opening up Congress to new media

    Re #3: Culberson

    It is good to see you still visit and discuss with us. It is also very good to see you propose an idea that removes all restrictions. This is precisely the action that is needed. What they proposed indeed does not go far enough (even if it is an improvement over old rules, sometimes a simple improvement is not enough).
    I am very glad to see you pushing for a completely non-restricted access to "new media". New media almost feels like a funny term, seeing as it simply is these days, and is part of everything. Although that could be because I am young, and it has been around for half of my life to some extent.

    Anyways, it is perfectly accurate as well to see this as non partisan. I applaud you for your efforts and open minded actions and taking the time to listen to us all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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