I need help

There’s a lot that the nation needs to clean up in the aftermath of Katrina. I have faith that we will — as long as we don’t get bored, pour another drink, and choose to feel better before the work is really done. Racism. Bureaucracy. Anarchy. Incompetence. Posse Comitatus.

There’s a particular issue that I’m interested in. I’m looking for is a word or phrase to help me define a tiny a piece of what I’m seeing. The concept isn’t any more or less important than the others that are being discussed. I’d like to find a label for the concept, so that we can talk about it, without simply saying “President Bush is bad.” That just cuts off conversation for 50% of the country. That’s not fair, and it doesn’t fix the problem.

There’s something happening here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
There’s a man with a gun over there.
Telling me I’ve got to beware.

The concept that I’m thinking about goes back to classical Rome. One faction would simply kill its enemies. It would reward only its political members. A guard would bear fasces before The Leader in a triumphant parade. Then the leader of the faction would eventually be murdered. It was all something like a To-The-Death form of a generic T-shirt that I’ve recently seen: “The local sports team from my area can beat the local sports team from your area.”

We’ve seen a lot of this from Karl Rove. Outing spies that criticize the administration, telling Barbara Walters how he was beat up as a geeky kid but nobody’s beating him up now, or openly excluding industry experts from US delegations to trade conferences because “They didn’t win the election.” We’ve seen it in blue state vs red state discretionary spending and base closings, and we’ve seen it in on-the-ground preparations for New Orleans vs Houston. I feel this is wrong, but it isn’t obviously and universally regarded as wrong.

My Republican wife is convinced that this is some sort of partisan genocide. I’m looking for a word that describes this as obviously and blatantly a Bad Idea. Not just soccer hooligans rooting for their team, but partisan soccer hooligans with their fingers on the Button.

It's not just open standards, it's open spectrum

While not often disagreeing with Groklaw, I did have a concern with this piece on open standards and disaster relief. While agreeing with the general gist — that proprietary standards can hinder relief efforts and that open platforms can maximize the number of people helped — the problem of interconnecting communications services is not generally an open standards problem. It is an open spectrum problem — and one we could solve today.

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Martin Misses an Opportunity

If you’re going to shake up the FCC’s open meeting by focusing on Katrina and moving to Bell South’s emergency HQ, why couldn’t Martin have focused a little bit on the future? Rather than looking at the way in which technology changed relief, Martin summoned the usual industry suspects who, unsurprisingly, explained to the FCC why they need regulatory goodies to better serve the public. Perhaps the Chairman can be persuaded to hold another meeting or forum a month or two down the road to look at where we should go, not where we’ve been.

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Katrina: Mass murder or merely depraved indifference?

I have been working on a long essay about New Orleans and may be I’ll finish it up and post it some day. Although that seems like a rather paltry contribution to make to the effort of cleaning up the wreckage. Better that I spent my time doing something concrete, as Harold has been doing. So I’m going to see about helping with housing some of the evacuees who have been sent to Otis Military Reservation.

But even as the nation goes about the business of trying to heal this ghastly wound, we need to forthrightly investigate and find out what happened. There have been news reports that Bush was briefed by Max Mayfield, head of the Hurricane Warning Center, last Sunday night, August 28.

If that is true, and I see no reason to think that it isn’t, then we have for a president either a catastrophically incompetent human zero, or a sociopathic criminal willing to let die tens of thousands of his fellow citizens out of mere petulance. My money is on the latter.

For, after hearing what the National Hurricane Center had to say, anyone who was neither a zero nor a sociopath would have done all that he could have to urge people to leave, ensure that they had the means to leave, and prepare for immediate rescue operations the moment the storm had left the region. Bush did none of these things.

What I want to know is, did Bush refuse to send help to New Orleans in order to spite the Democrat governor (who refused to cede jurisdiction)? That is my reading of the tea leaves, and it nauseates and terrifies me. Bush’s Katrina ploy is looking more and more like a political action from the Saddam Hussein or Hafez Assad playbook.

The congress of the United States has no higher duty right now than to investigate this matter. I hope I’m wrong about Bush’s motives, but God help us all if I’m right.


Please distribute this broadly.

At 2 p.m., I participated in a conference call hosted by the FCC Chief of Staff on how network operators providing service with license exempt spectrum can assist in re-establishing critical voice, data and video service in areas devestated by Katrina.

Part-15.org is taking
the lead in organizing volunteers and donations of equipment from individuals,
WISPs and community wireless networks. Companies such as Cisco and Intel are
also heavily involved.

can volunteer or describe contributions through www.part-15.org (there is a link
on the front page).

There is freely available software and instructions on how to convert a computer and wireless router into a mesh network node from the Champaign Urbana Wireless Network. Their website is http://www.cuwireless.net/

The FCC will remain open throughout the holiday weekend to address the crisis. Coordination efforts are ongoing, but part-15.org hopes to have a preliminary asset list for coordination with federal authorities by Noon Saturday 9/3/05. It would therefore be enormously helpful to hear from people who can donate equipment or time, even if they cannot provide the equipment or time until a later date.

Harold Feld
Senior VP
Media Access Project

Some Domain Name News

Every now and again I still dabble in DNS. Two recent developments are worthy of note here. First, the Fourth Circuit reached the right decision in the fight over the jerryfalwell.com website. After nearly ten years of bad decisions by ignorant judges, it is good to see some common sense coming into play. Too bad it is too late to help my former comrade in arms Mike Doughney and his Peta.Org website.

Second item makes me laugh and cry at the same time. Turns out U.S. domination of ICANN is o.k. as long as the US works to keep pornography out of the DNS. Turns out love (of a sort) will bring us together . . . .

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