What's the matter with Congress?
But really, it's my congressman's fault.
Here's the backstory: back when round two of CISPA was happening, that is, NOT when the huge google/wikipedia backlack occured, but a short while after, when congress tried to pass the same bills, just with less fanfare.
Which is in itself a problem. "Oh, the public doesn't like this? Well then, let's ignore it for awhile, and when they aren't looking, let's do it then!"
Well that's a problem. But that's not the problem I am here to complain about.
So during round 2 of the SOPA/PIPA/CISPA debate, I went on a website that compiled the list of congress-critters that voted yea, and voted nay. I went through the list and found, low-and-behold, my congressman voted in favor of it.
Well shit. I live in Bed-Stuy. For those of you who don't know, it's the home of Biggie Smalls and is known as a more activisty sort of hood than many other hoods I've been around. But my congressman here, Hakeem Jefferies, just got in after a decade long congressman retired. He is a relative newcomer to the congressional scene, he was a NYS Assemblyman before going to DC.
Now, I knew a bit about Mr. Jeffries, and figured I would write him an email telling him I opposed CISPA and I opposed him supporting it. This was quite awhile ago, weeks and weeks, probably months and months. I wrote him an email and had more or less forgotten about it--expecting not to hear back from him. But this morning I check my email, and there it is. A response from my congressman! I was initially happy to see it. "huh, maybe he will explain why he supported CISPA" or something, but no, I was very *VERY* dissappointed, and I am going to share, in full, his response to me (certain info omited for personal protection)
Thank you for contacting me to share your views on H.R. 624, the "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)." I appreciate you taking the time to make me aware of your concerns about this legislation.
I greatly value the input and opinions of my constituents in New York's Eighth District. Every day, our cyber networks in both the public and private sectors are attacked by foreign governments, terrorist organizations and criminal groups. These cyber attackers steal billions of dollars of America's intellectual property, national security intelligence, trade secrets and corporate information. The private sector tries to protect its networks, but often it has limited information and can respond only to known threats.
H.R. 624 will allow private companies and government agencies to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another in order strengthen defense against threats to internet security. The legislation protects America's vital networks, including those that power our homes, provide our clean water, protect our bank accounts, guard our national security information and manage other critical services. CISPA has a five-year sunset provision, which ensures that Congress must review and evaluate the bill before renewing it in 2018.
H.R. 624 was introduced by Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan on February 13, 2013. It was referred to the House Committee on Intelligence. This legislation passed the House with my support on April 17, 2013, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. I encourage you to visit my website at www.Jeffries.House.gov where you can sign up for my newsletter and get information about important public issues. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.
Member of Congress
I feel like writing him another email saying "you need a better automated reply" cause the above is simply awful. I would have liked my congressman more if he did not respond to me at all, than getting the above response. Now, in Bed-Stuy, the democrat is going to win. That's just a fact. Hakeem Jefferies will probably be able to retain his seat (barring a democrat primary challenge) for as long as he wants it. It is situations like this one that make me skeptical of the value of democracy (of course, the value of other modes of govt are also right to be skeptical about)
But really, the above mass-produced form letter response is really, really bad. It contains ZERO information about the congressman's views or reasons for supporting CISPA. He shares some basic informations, the kind you could find in a press report on the topic, and he acts as if he has responded to me concerns! It's utter shit, but it passes off as "responding to constituents" which, is a pretty damn big job for someone in the house of representatives.
It seems like they do very little representing, and very much whatever they want.
I recall in college I wrote to my NYS assemblywoman, and she got back to me with personal emails that directly responded to my questions. Now it's true, a NYS assemblywoman and a NYC congressman have different sized constituencies, but still, congress can do better than the above shit-show of a response.
That said, I can only imagine the kind of responses I would get if I was a constituent of certain prominent republicans in the house. Anybody live in the district of a Louie Gohmert or Bachmann? Anyone ever write them and get a response? Does every congressman have form letters that are so shitty, or do some of them actually seem to give a fuck?
But seriously, what's the matter with congress? They seem rather incapable of doing the few tasks they are meant to do, while they seem exceedingly good at things they don't need to do--like attempt the same idiotic vote 40+ times....