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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Write your Congressman - Laugh & Be Frustrated

You often hear from activists that you should write/call your Congressman. I write when there is a topic on which I would like to express my position or if I would simply like to get the position of my representation. The response has never - not ONCE - lived up to my expectations. I will say up front that I understand interns and the underpaid staff are tasked with writing these responses. But the same folks are the people who are supposed to help the member form their policy position on issues and legislation.
In the latest round I asked my Congressman & both Senators what their position was on SOPA/PIPA and explained that I understood the bills had already been tabled and would not be voted on right now. I specifically requested a discussion about their position on the legislation with respect to the rights granted under the applicable portions of the constitution. I used the online form submission method, saving 3 stamps, weeks of time, and the cost incurred due to marking the replies to me. Below are some examples of what I received. My congressman appears to have at least sent me a well-written form letter. My junior Senator pasted in the paragraph in italics onto the body of a form letter. So at least I got a human response of a single paragraph. I've seen nothing from my senior Senator. Awesome... glad to see they're earning their $1/4-million salary and perks. Names omitted to protect the useless.

Congressman's Response
Dear Dillon:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act.”

I appreciate you sharing how this change will have a direct impact on you. Hearing from constituents like you helps to shape the future direction of our nation.

This legislation has been introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. This committee recently held a markup to vote on this proposal and adjourned after considering 25 amendments. Because of recent concerns expressed by internet users and websites, Rep. Lamar Smith has expressed interest in revising H.R. 3261 in such a way to alleviate those concerns. It is uncertain when or if this legislation will make it to the House floor for a vote.

As I continue to learn how this legislation would impact the Third Congressional District and Mississippi, I will take your thoughts and concerns into consideration. Again, I appreciate you sharing your views with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance.

Sincerely,
Gregg H.
Member of Congress
Junior Senator's Response
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act. I am glad to have the benefit of your views on this issue.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 968 in the Senate on May 12, 2011. This bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek a preliminary court order against web sites that it determines are peddling copyrighted material and counterfeit goods.

The intellectual property rights of Americans should be protected online, and I believe we can find a way to do that without hindering the public's free access to the internet. I am glad Senate Leadership has decided to delay a vote on this legislation so we can find a balanced approach on this important issue.

Be assured I will keep your views in mind as Congress considers legislation affecting online copyright infringement and the protection of intellectual property. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever assist you.

With best wishes, I am Sincerely yours,
Roger W.
U.S. Senate

Senior Senator's Response
crickets... I think may get a "written"/sealed/marked response
I'm fired up about not getting a response from one of my members. But I am steamed that the ones who did respond sent me such blatantly robo-generated drivel with a little "real" sprinkled in.

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