Like many Morris county Republicans I get a regular dose of Rodney Frelinghuysen’s weekly newsletter. That’s a good thing, it lets us all know what the congressman has been doing and where he stands on various issues. However, his stances are almost always mainstream “Republican.” No matter which way the stream goes, Mr. Frelinghuysen is a team player. He is a professional politician and has served the 11th district since 1994. Rodney knows the ropes in Washington, he’s experienced, savvy, well connected and well supported.
Even though he’s the 9th richest member of the house, he doesn’t need to use his money for campaigning, contributions flow in to his war chest on a regular basis. But it’s never much of a war, typically Mr. Frelinghuysen manages to out-spend his opponents 10 times, or more often, more than 20 to 1. He is the incumbent’s incumbent, unassailable in his position and king of the 11th district castle.
And why not? Rodney delivers, he’s 21st in the House in Earmarks, several of which were submitted just a couple of days ago on 4/27. Earmarks are legislated provisions that direct money to specific projects or make specific exemptions from fees or taxes that benefit a very small set of individuals. These bills (H.R. 5063 through H.R. 5072) sponsored only by Mr. Frelinghuysen, suspend the collection of import duties on various chemical compounds used by the Pharmaceutical and Defense industries, which is handy since they come all the way from China. Three of those bills also suspend import duties on preserved artichokes (one bill for the ones in vinegar and one for those not so vinegary) and oysters. Artichoke-ers, I understand, but who knew oyster importers had that kind of pull?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind professional politicians. Professionals get things done in Washington, or at least they used to. I agree with Rodney on a lot of the issues, but certainly not all. For instance he’s a much bigger “Hawk” than I am. Still, I count us all as lucky he’s a reasonable centrist on a lot of the issues. However, I keep hearing the current Republican “Everything Obama does is wrong” line from Rodney and that disturbs me. And then there’s some of the bills he talks about in bold and proud tones, which If I were involved, I’d rather no one knew. Especially last week when he was extolling the virtues of the CISPA bill, which he co-sponsored with 112 other congressmen. I wont have to tell you all how many were Republicans, will I?
CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011) is a bill, just passed by the House and on it’s way to the Senate that provides a legal method for Government and Private companies to read your email, get lists of your facebook friends, monitor your buying habits on Amazon and follow your every tweet. Not that they haven’t been doing it for years, but now it will be nice and legal. CISPA also includes a “get out of jail free” card for any company that gives the government your information and an added bonus of a two year statute of limitations on suing the government for pawing through your personals. Everyone involved is sworn to secrecy, so you probably won’t even know for two years anyway. Oh, by the way, no judges are necessary for this beauty. Warrants are so yesterday.
To protect us all, the language is very strong around any companies misusing this information for “Competitive advantage”, as the sharing goes both ways (or six ways from Sunday, if they like). Unfortunately it’s not so tough around the reasons for forking over all your records in the first place. This is a matter of national security! The descriptions of “Cyber threat, intelligence and crime” are cloudy enough to include things like encrypting your own email or leaving Amazon without buying everything in your cart. You knew that was going to come back to haunt you, didn’t you?
Luckily, the bill’s sponsors were humble enough to specifically exclude certain records from the prying eyes of Government, like firearm sales records and Library cards. Good catch, we wouldn’t want to over step the bounds of decency. Yet another triumph for the forces of “Small government.”
While most of us recognize the changed landscape of the modern world where certain models of computers are listed on the United States Munitions list, and the very real threat of cyber crime must be dealt with on a daily basis, I doubt very much it warrants all of us getting “cyber-naked” so it’s easier for the government to look for bad guys. I can hardly imagine a more intrusive or draconian measure, or one more likely to get completely out of control. The very fact that the NSA is tapping the entire Internet is disturbing, creating a bill to make it “Ok,” is almost comical, if it weren’t so frightening.
Why would you sign that, Rodney? Was it team spirit, princely bravado or did you just not read the bill? You know this means that all your activity will be on display as well, right? There will be no such thing as private correspondence for individuals or businesses if this gets turned into law. Doesn’t that bother you?
Perhaps I’m the one who doesn’t get it. Maybe this is actually a plot to reinvigorate the post office. Now terrorists, housewives and everyone else will have to go back to writing letters to communicate any information they don’t want every greasy goof to know. That is, until someone proposes a bill to subject all the mail to a giant high speed letter-steamer.