CWD--We're Not in Kansas Anymore (fwd)

Luciano Dondero DOND001 at
Thu Feb 8 11:43:03 MST 1996

>Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 20:17:43 -0800
>From: "Brock N. Meeks" <brock at>
>To: cwd-l at
>Subject: CWD--We're Not in Kansas Anymore
>Sender: owner-cwd-l at
>Reply-To: brock at
>CyberWire Dispatch // Copyright (c) 1996 //
>Jacking in from the "Abandon All Hope" Port:
>Washington, DC -- Forty-eight hours and a half bottle of Jack Daniel's
>into my 40th birthday and suddenly I knew what I had to do:  Compress
>my pending mid-life crisis into one white hot shining moment.
>So I filed a lawsuit against the United States of America, calling the
>bluff of this bastard Congress, claiming the indecency provisions
>contained in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 are unconstitutional.
>And so it is.  On Wednesday Dispatch becomes a plaintiff in a legal
>tussle for free speech in cyberspace.  The American Civil Liberties
>Union is doing the heavylifting;  a handful of others will be keeping
>me company. Before President Clinton can drop the signing pen for this
>rat-fucked piece of legislation on Thursday, the suits at the ACLU will
>be marching into court, papers in hand.
>Having worked myself into a lather over this on the strength of a
>strange voodoo rhythm that only Pat Buchanan stumping in Louisiana
>before hordes of gun worshiping gay bashers could love, a sudden evil
>chill crawled up my spine.   My Gwad!  What if I've been set up?  Yes,
>that's it.   The timing of this millstone legislation was calculated to
>pass just inside the morose window of my birthday.  I'm being
>purposefully driven mad.
>But who could harbor such a grudge?  Who would be devious and cunning
>enough to yank Sen. Bob Dole's chain and make him delay the vote just
>long enough for me to turn 40?  There could only be one answer:  Mike
>Nelson, the Administration's point man on encryption policy and a
>former staffer for Vice President Gore when he was just a second-class
>Senator from a third rate state.
>Nelson, you see, is fond of introducing me as "the most dangerous man
>on the Net."  Clever, but he stole the line from my Mother or
>ex-wife... but I digress.  Yes, it has to be him.
>Seizing the moment, I knew there was only one thing to do: Alert the
>President before he signed this bill, thus becoming an unwitting dupe
>in Nelson's twisted plot to turn my brain into gruel.
>But I needed a plan.  I knew that if I could only talk to Bill, chat
>him up face to face, maybe share one of those contraband Cuban cigars
>the CIA smuggles in for him, all would be right with the world.  He'd
>see he was just a pawn and not only veto the bill, but he'd rush to the
>Rose Garden, tear the mother into shreds and feed it to the
>Around 11 p.m. I made my way to the front gate of the White House.  "I
>have an urgent message for the President," I said, "I need to see him
>immediately."  The guard was not amused and fumbled for what must
>have been an Uzi resting under his overcoat.  "I'm with the press," I said.
>I dug for my credentials and flashed them.  Now the guard's grip began
>to tighten on a weapon outlawed-for-all-sane-people and barked at me
>something about a joke that could get me 5-10 in the slammer.
>I looked at my press credentials.   Egad!  I'd flashed my Diner's
>Club Card!  I couldn't bullshit my way out of this, no use trying, I
>slunk away.
>It was just about midnight that I thought of the rats.
>The plan was deceptively simple.  I'd scrawl an urgent message in
>paragraphs, attach one each to a rat, bag the lot and toss the entire
>rodent tribe over the White House fence with instructions not to stop
>until they had stormed their way inside.
>The logistics worked fine, on paper;  however, I suddenly realized that
>once inside the White House no one would be able to tell the rats from
>the White House Press Corps.  I ditched the plan.
>That was when a cat leapt from an alley.  He  looked strikingly like the
>First Cat Socks.   I pounced on him.   Fate would not be so generous
>again.   This was an omen.
>My plan now entailed tying my entire message around the neck of this
>Socks-Imposter.   The rest would be easy.   First, I put masking tape
>on the bottom of the cat's feet.   Next, I had to calculate the
>trajectory for tossing this beast over the fence and onto the White
>House lawn.   Now this is not an easy task for a 40-year-old, lathered
>and booze-addled, mathematically challenged journalist.
>The Arc of the Cat, you see, is  crucial.  Too high and he'd be caught
>in the radar that now guards against low flying single engine planes
>with a habit of making unscheduled landings on the front lawn.  Any
>blip on that early warning radar and a surface to air missile launches
>from just inside the White House tree line.   The missile, I figured,
>would do serious damage to the note.
>No, the Arc of the Cat had to barely clear the fence, yet land squarely
>on the lawn.   If I was lucky, once on the ground the cat would begin
>to writhe in spastic convulsions due to the masking tape on the bottom
>of its paws; cats hate this, it drives them fucking nuts.  [Disclaimer:
>Kids, Do Not try this at home with Muffy.  You have been warned.]
>This twisted feline mambo was important for two reasons.  One, it would
>make the cat a much tougher target for any of a number of snipers that
>camp on the roofs of all tall buildings within the line of sight of the
>White House.   Yes, they're there, watching through night scopes, ready
>and willing to drill any intruder.  Secondly,  the cat's crazed dance
>would immediately set off the motion detectors and the Secret Service
>would come running. They'd discover "Socks" and rush him inside to the
>First Family's private residence.   Clinton, being the curious man he
>is, would take note of the message around the "Socks-Imposter" and no
>doubt phone the front gate and have me summoned to his private
>chambers, offer me a Cuban contraband cigar and praise me for having
>saved him one of the greatest humiliations of his presidency.
>And it would have worked, too, but I didn't factor in the cat's
>unwillingness to become a feline projectile.   At the top of his arc,
>the cat pulled off a perfect pike maneuver that would have a former East
>German diving judge cough up a perfect "10."  This mutant furball
>careened off the top of the fence and hauled ass down Pennsylvania Ave.
>Dejected, I resigned myself to the only recourse I have left: Dispatch.
>Pee Wee Herman In An Overcoat
>There are so many things wrong with this bill that it's hard to know
>where to start.   Of course the anti-indecency provisions are by now
>well-known.   Say a dirty word on-line, go directly to jail.  Hell,
>reading this Dispatch or forwarding it to a friend could land net you 2
>years behind bars and set you back $250,000.
>In addition, seems Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) snuck in a sentence that,
>theoretically, makes it a crime to also send any language dealing with
>abortion through cyberspace.   This apparently due to something called
>the Comstock Act, which was put in place about the same time all those
>laws that made spitting on the sidewalk a crime also passed into law,
>somewhere around the around the turn of the century.
>But court decisions have rendered Comstock obsolete, yet it's still
>officially on the books.   Hyde's staff swear up and down that they
>added the provision at the behest of the Justice Department, yet they
>can produce no proof.   Hyde promised that the provision wasn't meant
>to forestall abortion information.   Small catch... as long as Roe v.
>Wade stands as law, that's true.  But if that ruling is overturned, and
>it is under constant assault, the Comstock Act is given new life.
>Now here's a thought:  Hyde is an ardent supporter of overturning Roe
>v. Wade... so you figure out the real implications here.
>You Call This Deregulatory?
> =========================
>Although supporters of this bill insist that it is deregulatory, don't
>believe it.  First of all, congressional sources conspired at the last
>moment, and in secret, with no debate and with no mention in public
>meetings, to make sure the there was nothing in the bill that would
>keep the FCC from *regulating* the Internet.
>David Lynch, Rep. John Dingell's (D-Mich.) telecom staffer, told me
>point blank that the bill "does not limit the FCC's ability to regulate
>the Internet."   As if that weren't enough, Lynch vamped on:  "If the
>Internet starts looking like a telephone company we might have to start
>looking at regulating it like one."    Two words:  Internet Telephone.
>You figure out the rest.
>Suffice to say, Congress set us all up with this bill.  They've painted
>a huge red bullseye on the Net and when Clinton signs the bill, hunting
>season is open.
>Want more arcane bullshit?  Okay, here it is.  In a 22-page document
>titled "FCC Proceedings and Actions Required by the Telecommunications
>Act of 1996," the law firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding outlines 69
>separate *regulatory*  "proceedings or actions" the FCC must undertake
>because of this bill.  It covers everything from "Delegation of Ship
>Inspections to Private Parties" to setting standards for the so-called
>"V" Chip (yet another government mandated censorship program) to
>figuring out how much providers of interactive services will be allowed
>to charge schools, health care providers and libraries (hint:  they get
>a discount, but the percentage is left up to the FCC.)
>Of course, the Congress doesn't mention that later this year it will
>hold hearings aimed at cutting the FCC off at the knees, both in
>funding and oversight capability.  How the hell can this bill be
>carried out as written if the agency charged with its implementation is
>effectively castrated?  Answer:  It can't.   Anyone want to give odds
>that this was just coincidence?
>Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
>Another myth about this "obscene act" is that it will create hundreds
>of thousands of new jobs.  Listen close, you'll hear Clinton and Gore
>each say this at Thursday's signing, I'll bet a sack of rats on it.
>If we just talk straight numbers, yes, the bill does create jobs.   But
>look closer, look at it like Labor Secretary Robert Reih would and ask
>yourself what are the *quality* of these jobs.   Answer:  pathetic.
>Although some of the jobs this bill creates will be high paying,
>technical jobs, most will be low paying, non-union jobs.   Digging
>ditches to lay new cables, new fiber.   Construction jobs for
>installing wireless towers.   Sales jobs up the ass, all on commission
>no doubt. Customer representative jobs, again, low paying, tedious
>non-union jobs.
>Why?  Because the phone companies, for one, will create separate
>subsidiaries which they don't have to staff with union employees.  And
>most manual labor jobs aren't union anyway.   A lot of jobs will come
>from the wireless industry.  Again, non-union and low paying, for the
>most part, building infrastructure, sales force, etc.
>Howard Stern's Private Parts
> ==========================
>Although Howard Stern's privacy (is this an oxymoron?) isn't in
>question here, your privacy is.
>The bill basically allows the telephone companies to use the data they
>have on you in any way they see fit, with one caveat:  They must
>provide the same access to that information to competitors, if asked.
>As long as they don't hog all your private data, such as how many times
>you call Domino's Pizza or whether you're an avid QVC network shopper,
>they can sell your data to just about anyone and use it internal in
>ways that should make your skin crawl.
>This is all laid out in admittedly banal Congress speak:  "A local
>exchange carrier (that's your local phone company) may use, disclose,
>or permit access to aggregate customer information... only if it
>provides such aggregate information to other carriers or persons on
>reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions up reasonable
>request therefore."
>In other words, bend over and kiss your sweet aggregate good-bye.
>Now, I have to go... there's a cat running around Washington with
>incriminating evidence tied to its neck, no doubt rummaging through a
>White House garbage can, and I have to track him down.
>Meeks out...
--Luciano Dondero--

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