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Posted at 10:27 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Darrell Issa: Sonic terrorist

By Ezra Klein

Now this is a critique of Rep. Darrell Issa that you don't hear every day:

"Everyone," said Issa, "has a past." The New Yorker profile of Darrell Issa fails to include the most important aspect of Issa's past--and present. Issa is the king of loud, violent noisemaking in the United States. No one has done more to increase noise levels in this country than Darrell Issa.

Because of Darrell Issa's ruthless promotion of sonic terror, millions of children have no quiet place to play or study. The noise which Issa promotes contributes to chronic fatigue, hearing loss, and sleep deprivation, and a general decline in quality of life.

That comes from a press release sent to me by Ted Rueter, president of Noise Free America. The full release is copied after the jump. It's a bit, err, overstated, to say the least. But I'm not totally without sympathy. Those car alarms are pretty annoying.

In the January 24, 2011 issue of The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza profiles California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Lizza provides extensive evidence of Issa's shady past, including strong allegations of stolen cars, concealed weapons, and arson.

Lizza describes Issa as a "car-alarm manufacturer." Indeed, Issa made millions as the founder of VIPER car alarms, with the menacing signature line, "Back away from the vehicle." Car alarms are a completely useless and annoying part of the American soundscape. Issa's car alarms continue to irritate the public while doing little or nothing to reduce car theft. A survey by the Insurance Institute of America indicates that only 1 percent of individuals who hear a car alarm would ever call the police. Studies indicate that car alarms make no difference in theft rates.

For years, Issa has presented himself as a "car-alarm manufacturer." This is highly misleading. Much more importantly, Issa is a prominent manufacturer of dangerous boom car and hot rod equipment. He has promoted the violently loud "Boom and Vroom Car" lifestyle. Darrell Issa is the central figure in the American "noise-industrial complex."

Issa is the former chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association. He is also the founder of Directed Electronics, VIPER car audio, and Orion High Performance Car Audio.

Issa is a member of the Congressional Automotive, Performance, and Motorsport Caucus, which advocates legalizing noisy racing equipment on city streets. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, which represents the $26 billion hot rod industry, calls Issa "one of our own."

Issa's commitment to aggressive noisemaking can be seen from his company's advertisements:

-VIPER Audio: "Cold Blooded." "Violent Fury and Multi-Channel Mayhem." "No Escape from the Hellacious Pounding of the Subwoofers and the Aggressive in Your Face Power." "No One Dares Come Close."

-Orion High Performance Car Audio: "Powered by Hardcore Attitude."
"Subwoofers That Will Command Respect on the Streets." "Be Loud. Be Obnoxious."

Darrell Issa is one of the leaders of the boom car industry. VIPER's advertising is consistent with the messages promoted by other boom car manufacturers. For example, JBL gloats,"Either we love BASS or hate your neighbors." JL Audio warns, "Be Very Afraid." MSX swaggers that it is "proud to be loud." Kicker asserts, "You deserve a beating...Kicker's loudest, meanest subwoofer ever." Concept blusters, "When TOO loud...is just right!!" Lightning Audio promises "sonic submission." Boss Audio Systems advises, "Turn it down? I don't think so." Cerwin-Vega Mobile Audio vows to "Shake the living, wake the dead" and celebrates "Maximum Boom: 50 more years of disturbing the peace." Crossfire crows, "We're louder...deal with it!" Panasonic brags that its systems are "loud as hell." Earthquake Sound offers the "Meanest, Loudest, Most Powerful, Mother F---- Amplifiers Money Can Buy!"

There truly is no escape from the hellacious pounding for millions of people across the United States. Thousands of neighborhoods have been ruined by noise from pounding boom cars, hot rods, and car alarms. Local officials are overwhelmed by the industry's financial and political power.

"Everyone," said Issa, "has a past." The New Yorker profile of Darrell Issa fails to include the most important aspect of Issa's past--and present. Issa is the king of loud, violent noisemaking in the United States. No one has done more to increase noise levels in this country than Darrell Issa.

Because of Darrell Issa's ruthless promotion of sonic terror, millions of children have no quiet place to play or study. The noise which Issa promotes contributes to chronic fatigue, hearing loss, and sleep deprivation, and a general decline in quality of life.

The American public needs to know about Darrell Issa's promotion of noise-related violence, thuggery, and delinquency. Throughout his career as a manufacturer of boom car and hot rod equipment, Darrell Issa has promoted sonic brutality and anti-social behavior.

By Ezra Klein  | January 20, 2011; 10:27 AM ET
 
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Comments

Very interesting post. Is a terrorist a person who manufactures something that is used in a terrorizing act, or is a terrorist the person that actually terrorizes people?

Posted by: RisingTideLiftsAllBoats | January 20, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Sure, pick on the small businessman again, an entrepreneur with a dream, a dream of safe cars and passengers listening to "Violent Fury and Multi-Channel Mayhem." Neighbors listening to it, too. What a yutz. Thanks for letting us know who's behind the hellacious pounding.

Posted by: crosspalms | January 20, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

So much for that "civil discourse" eh? I don't like Rep Issa for many of the given reasons, but 'sonic terrorist'? really?

Posted by: rpixley220 | January 20, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, if this is the alternative, maybe I was wrong and we can't have too many health care posts from you!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 20, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

How many jobs did Mr. Darrell Issa create in this business?

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 20, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The only thing missing is the obligatory reference to Issa creating a "silence holocaust".

Posted by: jnc4p | January 20, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

So creating tens of jobs by disrupting the lives of thousands is OK for GOPers.

Clearly the "civil" in "civilization" means nothing to the corporatists.

Posted by: grat_is | January 20, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Another indication of how much this sort of rhetoric is a standard part of American discourse. If Sarah Palin denounced loud music in these terms, Ezra would be mocking her and clucking over her violent language.

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 20, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

RisingTide Said:
"Is a terrorist a person who manufactures something that is used in a terrorizing act, or is a terrorist the person that actually terrorizes people?"

I think the later. But I also think there is far too little attention paid to the manufacturers. Should a corporation be shunned/scorned/regulated/investigated when it's products are used for illegal acts 60% of the time? 10%? 100%?

AK47's?
Semtex?
Cars?
Landmines?

I don't think any of those meet the threshold, but I do often wonder what the supply chain for IED makers looks like. And I would hazard a guess that those sub-woofers are used in a manner that violates noise ordinances well over 50% of the time.

I wish there was more done to ticket and fine those users, but I also think we should not let manufacturers off the hook completely. The FBI has a hell of a time doing anything about gun dealers who are proven to be serial straw-purchase sellers.

Posted by: jeirvine | January 20, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Klein, for relentlessly helping put more and more power in the hands of scoundrels like Issa.

Posted by: msoja | January 20, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I do wonder if people realize that I posted this because I thought it was funny, and figured others would think so, too.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | January 20, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

You're kidding, right, Ezra? Clearly, you're a far out, radical left, Lamestream Journolist who just wants to tear down everything and everyone who's a God-fearin', flag-wavin' patriotic Real American. We can see right through you!!

Posted by: Mountaineer87 | January 20, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was pretty clear, Ezra, but some folks are bound and determined to take every writing from people they disagree with in the least charitable way possible.

Posted by: MosBen | January 20, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Never mind VIPER -- I want to know who came up with that other after-market alarm that cycles through a sequence of four repeating sounds (whooping sirens, buzzing -- I think you all know the one). After a long-ago summer in an A/C-less rowhouse, where some unknown neighbor parked beneath my open bedroom window and that alarm went off -- for no apparent reason -- just about every night, I will never forgive the inventor of that one.

Posted by: Janine1 | January 20, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

you know i've got this house alarm that when set off says (in the most annoying and LOUD voice), Burglary, Burglary, you've violated an area that is protected by a security system. Leave immediately. It went off inadvertently a couple of months ago and really annoyed my neighbors. Must've been another Republican that's responsible for that too. That's it. I'm changing my political affilliations now.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 20, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Funny. Too true about car alarms. When I hear my first thought is "please turn it off" - I never think "OMG someone is trying to steal a car". In one neighborhood where I lived if your care alarm went off more than twice you were fined - YEAH!!!

Posted by: rlj1 | January 20, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Never mind VIPER, how about Issa's Corruption: Gun conviction, the three allegations on car theft, Arson allegation and his mystery monies and finances... surrounding autos ?

I believe Assa is more than just a " Sonic Terrorist", just read the New Yorkers piece on Darrel Issa for starters.

Posted by: Fromthehilltop | January 20, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

--*I do wonder if people realize that I posted this because I thought it was funny, and figured others would think so, too.*--

Did you read the New Yorker piece, Klein?

It was written less than a hundred years ago, so... you know.

Posted by: msoja | January 20, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Issa's accomplices seem to be my neighbors, who are apparently unable to get into their cars without setting off their alarms.

Posted by: nancymp | January 20, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

they even made a movie about it, called Noise http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425308/

Posted by: bdballard | January 20, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

msoja, that joke wasn't funny the first time. It's even stupider after being posted by a million idiots.

Posted by: MosBen | January 20, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

--*msoja, that joke wasn't funny the first time. It's even stupider after being posted by a million idiots.*--

Klein should have it shouted at him every day for the rest of his worthless career.

Posted by: msoja | January 20, 2011 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Issa a crook and a cretin. In other words, a shining star in the republican party.

Posted by: JilliB | January 20, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

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