We File Wireless Microphone Complaint: Shure Says Breaking Law Should Be OK If You Sound Good.

As regular readers will know, among my many wireless fixations are the use of the broadcast white spaces and the 700 MHz auction. So what happens when I get to combine the two together?

Answer: A 50 page complaint and Petition for Rulemaking, another 175 pages of evidence that Shure and other manufacturers have been marketing wireless microphones in violation of FCC rules, then using the victims of this deceptive marketing scam as “human shields” in the white spaces debate, and a possible road map toward solving the potential for massive interference with new public safety and wireless services operating on the returned UHF bands. As a side benefit, it also provides a route to authorization for the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of illegal wireless microphones, finds a use for that leftover 5 MHZ band in the AWS-2/AWS-3 proceeding (waste not want not), and potentially changes the debate in the white spaces fight by getting the goddamn fact that the overwhelming majority of wireless microphones are (at the moment) used illegally out in the open so people can have a rational discussion about interference protection.

Oh yeah, and it will require the wireless microphone manufacturers to clean up the mess by exchanging the old, unauthorized equipment for new equipment that doesn’t work on Channels 52-69. I love a plan that only punishes the guilty rather than letting the wireless microphone guys reap yet another windfall by requiring the unauthorized users to pay for their own equipment replacement.

And what was Shure’s response to the complaint? According to the Associated Press, Shure did not deny breaking the law. Instead, they said: “today’s uses of wireless microphones provide a valuable and irreplaceable public good, regardless of the licensing scheme.”

Or, in other words, “yeah, we broke the law — but it doesn’t matter because we will use Broadway and churches as human shields if you try to go after us” (insert international gesture of respect performed with raised middle finger at FCC).

You can see the press release here, and get copies of our complaint/Petition here. (Links to the Exhibits are on the press page.) You can see a bit more analysis from yr hmbl obdn’t below….

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The Final FISA Sellout and My One Last Desperate Push for Sanity

The capacity of the Democratic Leadership to destroy the party will never cease to amaze me. In 2006 the Dems ran to take over Congress on a platform that included, among other things, ending illegal wiretaps on Americans. Now, the same Democrats propose to grant immunity to the telcos who cooperated with the Administration on a theory that — and I kid you not — if we don’t immunize the telcos for breaking the law this time, they might not break the law for us next time. Alternatively, some argue we should not “punish” companies whose only crime was that they cared so deeply about the safety and security of the United States that they “stepped up to the plate” when the President asked them to break the law and spy on people for their own good. Of course, these same selfless, patriotic, noble companies refused to implement judicially authorized wiretaps because the DoJ neglected to pay the fees. But it appears that Republicans, and now a sufficient number of Democrats, understand that we cannot expect patriotism to extend to things that actually cost megacorporations money. You can read this shameful betrayal of everything the Democrats pledged in ’06 here, with EFF’s analysis here.

What makes this more astounding is that there is not a single, rational reason for the Democrats to do this, and every reason not to do it. The Republicans tried to scare monger and make this an issue for them. That tactic failed miserably. You may recall how back last winter when the Republicans pulled out all the usual stops about how this was about national security and blah blah blah. No one bought it. The magic deadlines lapsed and nothing happened.

So either the Democratic Leadership continues to suffer from a pre-11/06 mentality, or they think they can continue to abuse their active base and collect corporate contributions as well. After all, the thinking goes, it’s not like the mainstream electorate cares about this and its not like the netroots are going to vote Republican. So why not treat them the way we’ve treated unions, African Americans, and unions over the years? i.e., talk tough, but cave when it counts because we know there are no consequences for it.

I’ve already made my impassioned plea based on the ideal of the Rule of Law. Now, in a last desperate effort, I shall make my plea based on practicality and — in what is apprently the universal language of party leadership — cash.

Democrats, meet me below . . . .

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Channeling my inner Leopold Sedar Senghor to make a point about the stupid FISA so-called “Compromise”

Leopold Senghor was still the head honcho of Senegal when I was there as a Peace Corps Volunteer (& later as a grad student). The famous father of negritude was pretty well regarded as the guy who got Senegal its independence from France. But he was ridiculed a little (sort of like the proverbial crazy uncle) because his wife was French, and white. And because he spoke French, Latin and Greek better than he did Wolof. Senghor was Serrere, & spoke that language as his native tongue. But everybody in Senegal spoke at least some Wolof. It was (and is) that country’s lingua franca. I knew several Americans who were quite fluent in the language, including my friend Richard.

I remember one time Richard was going on about Senghor’s horrible French accent when speakng Wolof. In a radio address the night before, at one point Senghor had said something like, “ha ‘bugge nga’ ak ‘bugulo nga’ amul barrak waxtan”, meaning “between ‘I like you’ and ‘I don’t like you’ there is no bench for discussion.” And Richard thought that was horribly undiomatic Wolof. (Note: my Wolof is very, very rusty. I probably got that all wrong, but that’s how I remember it.)

Whatever. It stuck with me. And so, with reference to this recent nonsense about a “compromise” on the FISA bill, and with a nod to the late Mr. Senghor, I would just like to say, that between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’, there is no bench for discussion. Bush and Cheney and all the other monarchists in their administration think there’s a need to pass a law saying that when phone companies break the law, they’re not breaking the law. Fuck that. Y’know, that’s why our so-called founders invented the so-called judiciary. Y’know, so that there would be a well defined place and way to sort these things out. When you’re making ex-post facto laws to exonerate your buddies, you’re not fooling anybody. Or, to quote another sage, I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.

As we say in broken Wolof, Rekk— that’s all.

The Deadest Generation

Most folks I know are pretty cranky lately. They cite the economy, or the wars. But I don’t think we’re being honest. My generation is dead. We did die before we got old. But we only know it on a subconscious level, and that makes us cranky.

Our last hurrah and last attempt to change the world was in the late ’90’s with the Internet Boom – although that was largely driven by the next generation. Now we’re just running on Cialis. It’s the only thing we care about anymore, or which gets a rise out of us. Dead.

I work at the University of Wisconsin, which had been a hot-bed of violent youth revolution in the ’60’s. Now, when a part time instructor named Barrett raises questions about 911, the university threatens his job. (Even as Syd Barret passes quietly away.)

John just wrote a great blog about serious and enduring issues that will have meaning long after 911 is a footnote, but even he doesn’t wants to talk about 911. Who wants to be thought of as a weirdo? Don’t say such things! I hope interest rates don’t get much higher. Have you tried Flomax?

Surely, the idea that 19 losers wreaked all this havoc, orchestrated by a guy in a cave in Afghanistan, is the looniest conspiracy theory of all time! Imagine a US government that thinks nothing of breaking into the personal files of its domestic political opposition, breaking the law to destroy its bureaucratic opposition, waging war without reason, spying on its own citizens, ignoring treaties, and “temporarily” but indefinitely closing the Whitehouse press office. This is reality, and we’re not outraged? Dead. Now, I can’t imagine that such a government could have deliberately orchestrated 911, but mostly because I think they’re too incompetent to have pulled it off. (Hey, I want to keep my university job!) I don’t know what the reality is. Either of the two opposing conspiracy theories is equally depressing. But I think that folks of my generation are old enough to sense bullshit when we hear it, and we know at some level that we’re up to our eyes in it from all sides. I believe that the recognition that we don’t truly care enough to act on this – or even discuss it – is what’s got us so down. If you’ve still got a pulse, I encourage you to Google on the 911 conspiracy videos.

I am Jack Abramoff

For me, the story of Jack Abramoff is not the story of a corrupt DeLay catspaw finally brought to justice, ultimately bringing down DeLay himself. Nor is it a celebratory tale of the hypocrisy of those who profess religion while behaving corruptly. For me, it is a tragedy and cautionary tale that raises fundamental questions about the viability of Modern Orthodox Judaism and one of its central tennets: that a one can fully embrace modernity while fully embracing the teachings of our sages and leading a life dedicated to God. Quite literally, “there but for the grace of God go I,” and may yet. What then is my moral duty to myself, my family and my God?

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