Tales of the Sausage Factory

CellAntenna Scam Continues To Gain Momentum — Bummer.

Regular readers may recall that I find CellAntenna’s continuing effort to leverage the problem of contraband cell phones to get the law changed so that they can sell cell phone jammers legally in this country not merely obnoxious and offensive, but downright dangerous. CellAntenna has proven real good at persuading state prison wardens that this technology solves their problems, despite the statements of frequency coordinators and public safety orgs that this is a real bad idea. The mainstream media, as is all too common these days, has generally acted like mindless cheer leaders without troubling to dig into whether cell phone jamming will actually work or not. The only decent in depth coverage was this Wired piece by Vince Beiser. For one thing, Beiser notes that prisoners can beat the jammers with a few sheets of aluminum foil.

I’ve blogged in a little more in-depth on this over here at Public Knowledge. We also (with additional sign ons from a number of other orgs) sent this letter to the Senate Commerce Committee in advance of tomorrow’s hearing so that at least someone is on record opposing this scam. Finally, for those of you who prefer the short, pithy medium of me staring into a camera and yakking about this, I give you my latest Five Minutes With Harold Feld The Prison Problem: Cell Phone Jamming and Shrimp Scampi.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Attack on Oprah: A Case Study Of The Strategies of the Conservative Noise Machine.

If I told you after the Palin announcement that Republicans would attack Oprah, you’d have called me crazy. Oprah is beloved of the precise demographic Rs hope to win over by naming Palin. It would be suicide! Besides, what would be the grounds for the attack?

Then when I told you “because she is keeping her promise to keep politics off her show,” you would say I was doubly nuts. “Impossible! Everyone knows that when Oprah backed Obama she made it clear that she was not going to leverage her show for him. How on Earth are the Republicans going to turn that into an attack?”

Welcome to PalinPetition.com. You will find that after the initial blip on Sept. 5-6, it has slowly leaked into the mainstream media. I discovered it via the ever excellent Benton Foundation media headlines service, which linked to this trade press piece. I expect it will start to dominate the cable and broadcast news rounds via FOX and other conservative commentators soon. Timing will no doubt depend on focus group polling on whether Obama is gaining traction or if passion about Palin begins to wane. But from the current ferment in the vectors, I’m pegging it to be next week’s distraction.

The fact is that the developing attack on Oprah is an excellent case study of how the Republicans manipulate both their base and the mainstream media. It also highlights what Obama and the Ds need to do to defend. It is not simply about going after smears or going negative sooner stronger or any of these things. It is to understand that the Republican stategists at this level do not wait for targets of opportunity, nor do they hitch their train to a single issue or person. It is a matter of understanding overall methods of operation and developng proactive counter-strategies rather than reactive counter strategies. Along the way, it also helps highlight the current problem with our mainstream media and illustraights how the Rs are taking advatange of the internet in non-obvious ways.

Full analysis below . . . .

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Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , | 9 Comments (Comments closed)

Econoklastic

The Best Senator Money Can Buy

The mainstream media is finally picking up on the real story behind Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) push for immunity for the big telecom companies for cooperating with the Bush administration in illegally surveilling the communications of U.S. citizens: the huge spike in telco contributions to Rockefeller in 2007, particularly from AT&T and Verizon executives. According to today’s Washington Post, AT&T and Verizon have given $47,350 in 2007, up from $5,000 in 2006 and $7,000 in 2005.

AT&T attributes the increase to Rockefeller being a senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee up for reelection in 2008. However, the contributions from all other major telecoms companies belie this excuse: $4,000 in 2005, $4,900 in 2006, and $5,250 in 2007. The rest of the telecoms industry raised their contributions to Rockefeller by 7.14% in 2007; AT&T and Verizon increased their contributions by 847%.

I’d say the difference has more to do with Rockefeller chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee and shepherding legislation which would free AT&T and Verizon from roughly 40 pending lawsuits which charge the telcos with violating the privacy rights of U.S. citizens by cooperating with the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance programme.

The story of the AT&T and Verizon contributions was broken by Ryan Singel on Wired’s Threat Level blog.

This is one more example of why progressives need to treat the Democratic Congress with the same skeptical eye that they did the Republicans. Rockefeller has sold out to the telcos and progressives should respond by refusing to support his reelection. It’s better to see real enemies in office than false friends who can be bought to betray you; it would be even better to see real progressives in primary challenges to Democrats who are bought by corporate interests.

Posted in Econoklastic, General | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

My Impossibly Long Field Guide for the 700 MHz Auction (It's Really Important, Even If You Haven't Heard About It Much In The Main Stream Media)

Few events in the wireless world matter so much, yet get so little coverage, as the upcomming 700 MHz wireless auction. Why? Because they’re hard, and the mainstream media (MSM to us “bloggers”) are afraid you will get all confuzzled and bored. Besides, isn’t non-stop coverage of Anna Nichole Smith more satisfying? (Hint: She’s still dead.)

Small wonder that even if you are in the minority of folks who have heard about the “digital television transition” and the “return of the analog spectrum,” you have not heard about the huge policy fights over how to auction off the single most important block of spectrum for the foreseeable future. Which is, of course, how the big carriers like it.

You can find a pretty good 12-page summary prepared by some investment analysts over here. But, being the highly-opinionated public advocate and believer in democracy that I am, I also provide a hopefully helpful guide for de-mystifying the swirl of players and activity attracted to the distribution of this multi-billion dollar block of spectrum licenses. Issues include network neutrality, open access, wireless competition, the future of broadband competition, and a whole lot of public safety stuff. It includes a cast of thousands from Frontline to Cyren Call to the Ad Hoc Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (I thought up the name myself! O.K., I was in a rush . . . .) and an army of incumbents that like the universe just the way it is, thank you and do not look kindly on those of us trying to shake things up.

I warn you, this is extremely long (13 pages, I probably should have broken it up into more than one post), and complicated, and all that stuff that mainstream media figures your pretty lil’ heads can’t handle without getting all confuzzled. So, if ye be readers of courage, willing to risk getting all confuzzled and thinking about how our wireless and broadband future will unflold for the next 10-15 years, read on! Or you can go back to Google News and plug in “Anna Nichole Smith” (yup, still dead).

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Posted in Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

General Exception

Net Neutrality Takes Top Honors as “Most Censored Story” of 2007

A bit late to the party on this one, as I just caught a pointer to this story from Digg. The Project Censored group named net neutrality the “Top Censored Story of 2007” due to its being ignored entirely by mainstream media.

Posted in General Exception, Hardware | Also tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Network Neutrality In Last Throes! Nationally Franchised Bells to Be Greeted As Liberators!

The signs of increasing desperation in the war of words over the Stevens Bill reached a new low. As reported by Matt Stoller Stevens has released the results of this push poll purporting to show that the majority of voters are interested in cable, not network neutrality, and would prefer to get the Bell video franchising bill passed without net neutrality provisions attached.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Indy Media Centers Harassed by Feds?

The Independent Media Centers got started after the mainstream press gave very corporate/globalization friendly coverage of the protests around the WTO meeting in 1999 that kicked off the anti-globalization movement.

IMCs frequently provide on the spot coverage of anti-globalization events which the archive and distrbute via streaming media.

NY IndyMedia reports that the FBI and Secret Service have subpeonaed information about who posted a list of RNC delegates.

While I cannot claim direct experience with the FBI harrasment of the civil rights movement in the name of the struggle against communism, I know enough about history to be damned sensitive to the first sign I’m repeating it.

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
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