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February 13, 2007

isn’t progress great? it creates all kinds of new and exciting things to make illegal

The GOP had some difficulty at first coming to terms with its November losses but after some deep soul searching, many party members believe they have found a wedge issue that if seized upon quickly could help them retake Congress:

An insufficient amount of government surveillance.

You hear it every day, from city streets to small-town coffee shops: “Can you believe that the federal government has almost no requirements for Internet Service Providers to record and monitor my web activity? Seriously, none at all.”

And so as a key element of the GOP’s “law and order agenda,” legislation is being introduced that would provide the Attorney General broad discretion to require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to preserve records of their customers’ online activity, from the web sites they visit, to their emails and possibly to their instant message conversations and chat room sessions. Even better, this data would be available under subpoena in civil cases which sure would add some spice to what would otherwise be boring and routine divorce proceedings.

Given that current Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is of the belief that the Internet exists primarily for the pursuit of criminal activity (as opposed to its original purpose of making available a vast array of downloadable Xena wallpapers, providing hours of entertainment Googling yourself, and creating opportunities for people who, but for the Internet, would be quietly working in vegan cooperatives fashioning politically themed macramé  pot holders and ranting to the cats instead of pursuing an exciting career in torpedoing any chance of working on a presidential campaign) it is expected he will want to use this power extensively in order to address what he called the “failure” of Internet Service Providers to voluntarily spy on their customers.

Presidential candidate John McCain is championing another element of the law and order agenda by proposing that ISPs (under criminal penalty) be required to report any illegal images of cartoon minors their users might transmit.  

Finally, there is a champion who will speak for those victims who cannot speak for themselves. Because they don’t exist.

Of course it is notoriously difficult to accurately determine the age of cartoon characters particularly considering how easy it is for even a run-of-the-mill commercial illustrator to forge an animated ID. But regardless this initiative marks an important move on the part of the GOP which is clearly no longer satisfied merely protecting the unborn, but now feels compelled to protect the not born as well.

Naturally, Democrats are not going to cede the law-and-order issue to the GOP without a fight and so are busy crafting their own agenda. New York State Sen. Carl Krueger for instance plans to introduce legislation that would ban the use of iPods while crossing city streets.

As an aside, while it is commonly believed that Steve Jobs invented earphones, many of us were using similar devices twenty years ago. They were crude, yes, but did the job by either picking up radio (the kind you don’t have to subscribe to) or playing music from a storage medium known as the “cassette” in which music was deposited on thin ribbons of tape using a process long lost to time but believed to have involved elves.

Senator Krueger believes such devices are a distraction. To the contrary, we used to use these devices to specifically block out the many distractions of New York City life, including random swarms of gum-snapping receptionists, ongoing conversations as to the subtle nuances of why the Mets suck, and the crazy guy on the corner preaching about our impending doom (no doubt now gainfully employed writing about global warming).

The Senator’s bill includes not only iPod-like music  players but cell phones and Blackberry devices as well. With cell phone bans in place in cars, hospitals, movie theaters and now city streets the only place you will soon be able to make a call or check your email will be sitting at home.

Next to your phone.

By the computer.

Senator Krueger was motivated to introduce this legislation after a city resident was hit by a bus while using an iPod. In fact, this may be part of a disturbing trend in dire need of legislation as last year a 79-year-old woman was also killed by a bus and while her iPod use was not noted in the accident report, she was almost certainly getting down to the sick beats of Jay-Z.

What other reason could there have been?

J.

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February 13, 2007 at 02:33 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

Why would you want to drown out the distractions of NYC life when it can be hilarious: http://www.overheardinnewyork.com

Posted by: Jeff | Feb 13, 2007 5:58:49 PM

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