Friday, October 10, 2008

Congress Thinks of the Children: S.1738 PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008

In the middle of the country’s ClusterF#@k to the Poor House, Congress took some time out to Think of the Children.

John McCain said on September 24 that he was canceling his appearance on Letterman suspending his campaign in order to respond to the national crisis and that he would not reinstate his campaign until the crisis was properly resolved. Sen. McCain reinstated his campaign on Friday the 26th.

So what National crisis was resolved that let his campaign continue? It couldn’t have been the financial crisis, since I am now using my AIG stock as toilet paper.

No, in the middle of our National Economy going flush with executives squirreling vast sums into executive golden parachutes, the crisis which was resolved was who could take credit for Thinking of the Children.

In 2007, both VP wannabe Joe Biden and Prez wannabe John McCain introduced legislation attempting to combat the ever growing problem of child abuse and child pornography. Joe Biden’s PROTECT Our Children Act had been considered by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in April 2008, reported out favorably and placed on the Senate calendar in July 2008. It had 60 cosponsors.

S.1738 PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008
Title: A bill to require the Department of Justice to develop and implement a National Strategy Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, to improve the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to increase resources for regional computer forensic labs, and to make other improvements to increase the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute child predators.
Sponsor: Sen Biden, Joseph R., Jr. [DE] (introduced 6/28/2007) Cosponsors (60)
Related Bills: H.R.3845, S.519
Latest Major Action: 10/2/2008 Presented to President.

Sen. McCain’s Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act (SAFE Act) had never been considered by a committee, had not seen legislative action, and had only 10 cosponsors.
S.519 Safe Act of 2007
Title: A bill to modernize and expand the reporting requirements relating to child pornography, to expand cooperation in combating child pornography, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen McCain, John [AZ] (introduced 2/7/2007) Cosponsors (10)
Related Bills: H.R.876, H.R.3791, S.1738
Latest Major Action: 2/7/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Now all that is nice and most Washington fat-cats know that once the calendar closes in on the elections, nothing gets done – the legislative process comes to a standstill. The candidates get brownie points for showing they care by introducing legislation, even if the legislation is bound for nowhere – you can always blame those unamericans-in-the-other-party for it going nowhere, and get a few more brownie points.

But on September 15th, an event occurred which the candidates could not ignore: Obama-supporter-Oprah came out in favor of VP wannabe Joe Biden’s PROTECT Our Children Act! The Oprah Nation took to the streets in support of Biden’s bill – and within a week McCain had suspended his campaign and scuttled back to Washington D.C.

Upon McCain’s return to Washington, the PROTECT Our Children Act was passed – on the 25th by the Senate, and on the 27th by the House - but this was quite a different PROTECT Our Children Act than the one thrashed about in the Senate Judiciary Hearing many months ago. As the Center for Democracy and Technology notes, “Some in Congress insisted that the core parts of [John McCain’s] S. 519 – the “SAFE Act” – be added to [Biden's] S. 1738 before passage.” Sec. 2 of John McCain’s act, “Reporting Requirements of Electronic Communication Providers and Remote Computing Service Providers,” became Title V of Joe Biden’s Act, “Securing Adolescents from Online Exploitation” (which had as its first section, Sec. 501 Reporting Requirements of Electronic Communication Providers and Remote Computing Service Providers). One day after the Senate voted on the Biden-McCain SAFE PROTECT Act, with the danger averted, McCain reinstated his campaign.

Upon passage:

  • Sen. Joe Biden stated: “At the same time when the Internet has given children access to the world – it has also given a dangerous world access to our kids,” said Sen. Biden, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. “Protecting them requires constant vigilance – in our neighborhoods, in our homes and on-line. Finally we have a bill that will give law enforcement the funds and the tools to pull the plug on Internet predators. I urge the President to quickly sign the Protect Our Children Act into law.”
  • Oprah stated: "Thank you to the 60 senators—Republican and Democrat—who co-sponsored the bill. … All of you proved that the people can really make a difference."

  • John McCain stated: [a review of the John McCain Senatorial website reviewed no press release or statement]

Meanwhile, back on the Clusterf@#k, the Center of Democracy and Technology all but lamented, "These provisions should – if the bailout leaves any money to actually spend on law enforcement – really help in the fight against child pornography."

Wheel of Morality, turn turn turn, Tell Us the Lesson We Should Learn: Oprah can get legislation passed even in the midst of a fierce political campaign and the worst economic crisis since the Long Depression of 1873 – now that’s political power! That and, even for the noblest cause, the legislative process is nothing short of a sausage factory – be pleased with your bratwurst but don’t look too close at how it was made.

Note One: I aint hereby supporting no candidate – I am sure someone will be offended – but if you read closely (you will bump the screen with your forehead har har) you will see I am making fun of everyone (including you).

Note Two: I aint dissing the noble cause sought after (didn’t I just say that) – but you gotta admit, that’s some sausage factory.

Note Three: Oh yeah, next post we will dig into this fun “We Don’t Regulate the Internet” new law and see what it means for Internet interests.

UPDATE: President Bush reportedly signed the Biden PROTECT Act into law on Monday October 14 . . . without comment or press release.

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