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Comment: Re:Airspace (Score 1) 166

by danheskett (#47440893) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The problem is that you presume that you should have more access to the air space than anyone else. You shouldn't. For a long time the cost made access to air space prohibitive except for a small class of wealthy individuals or large companies. That's over.

It's time to make it fair. You have no greater claim to airspace than anyone else. Your desire to tool around in an aircraft for hobby in no way supersede my desire to do the same with an UAV.

Comment: Re:The FAA needs to follow the law. (Score 1) 166

by danheskett (#47440879) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

The administration takes laws (like their own favorite, the ACA), and completely ignores hard-wired dates and other requirements as it suits them for political leverage with the portion of the voters to whom they pander. Happily, that particular instance is about to be challenged in a civil suit coming out of congress - that's very good news.

This is not exactly true, but the spirit is right.

Any administration has two prerogatives that they exercise:

1. Upholding and enforcing the laws, "faithfully". This is the ultimate judgement question. Imagine that Congress passes law intended to allow any person to breathe free, and that the penalty for violating that law is death. But Congress makes a mistake and passes language that says "one person may breathe free". Is the President required to go around, arresting and trying people for all breathing free, when only person is supposed to breathe free? No, he is not. That is the essence of "faithfully".

2. The FAA, like DHS and many other agencies, have prevailed upon Congress to grant their administrators massive deference to the implementation of rules and application of law. This is a worrying trend that has gone back many decades, but has really picked up in the last 20 years. In the past, Congress would work on bills in committee and in markup and in conference, to implement many of the smaller and fine details in the law.

Laws like the ACA are said to be very long, but really, they aren't that long. Most of it is technical wording to amendment the text of other laws or titles. In terms of detail, there isn't as much as you might think. And it's full of certifications, "as the director sees fit", and other various elastic clauses.

This administration especially has focus on passing laws that have very little meat to them excluding a set of broad goals and somewhat corresponding powers. Almost all of the commonly cited abridgements of the ACA fall into one of three categories:

a. A portion of the law that was left to the descretion of the Director.

b. Unenforceable - i.e. whatever the law says, it must be real and practiacable, or it is not enforceable by a Court. If the law says you must grow wings and fly away by August 1st, 2014 and you fail to do so, you can't be held to penalty by a Court. The same is true of the ACA. If they say all employers must provide accetable health insurance by a certain date, and a list of acceptable health insurance is not developed, then the penalty is not enforceable in Court. It's a matter of due process.

c. A portion of the law that creates no grieved party that has standing. This one is most interesting to me personally. Imagine a law passed that says that if certain conditions are met by two other parties, I am a poopy pants. Who can I see for my poopy pant status? The answer is: probably no one. There is no harm, so there is no basis for a successful suit.

In the end, your spirit is right though. The question is: what is the recourse when the Administration does not follow the law. The Courts can intervene, but in a practical sense, the Court has limited enforcement options.

The answer is: Congress can cut off the money. Unfortunately, the only House that can appropriate money is also hopelessly broken and run without really any interest in governing. For example, with this FAA thing, in the past, say when the House was run by Speaker Tip O'Neil and the White House was controlled by Republicans, Congress knew how to keep the White House on a tight rope. That House often attached funding directly to enforcement and deadlines. They would insert language into must pass bills, like funding appropriations, for things that they wanted done by the Administration. These were small-ish things. It would be perfectly in tradition to design funding for the FAA to ensure that the FAA met the legally required deadlines, by inserting language into funding appropriations that, say, reduced FAA funding for executive salaries and benefits by 1% for each day past the deadline that the rulemaking dragged on.

Unfortunately the current GOP really has no taste for governing. This type of thing requires a staff that is very competent, who have some weight in the Administrative branches, and who know the in's and out of policy. Whatever their strong points, the current GOP House really has no skills for actually making policy. Picking huge political battles that nearly break the government, only to cave at the last minute, is probably the most this GOP can accomplish. It is a complete and total myth that they can't do anything with just one House of one branch of government. The reality is that, properly managed, the GOP controlled House could force the Administration to do almost anything. Their problem is that they gave away the power of the purse for the length of their entire term. A huge,huge, huge mistake since that is their only power.

In fact, the best thing they could have done is only appropriate money month by month, and make the directors of each agency come and justify their funding requests every month for the entire two year terms. (But of course, that means less time for all the other important stuff they do.. like... err, well, I'm sure it's out there).

Comment: Re:Tea-Bagger Click Bait (Score 1) 166

by danheskett (#47440791) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

You may have a point about low-wage labor, but it's lost on the fact before 1940, the Federal government didn't even know about foreigners inside the borders of the United States. Up until then, aliens who could physically get to the US didn't even have to register, and did not have to do or not do anything special.

Comment: Re:Not a rule (Score 1) 166

by danheskett (#47440779) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

Rather, the FAA is drawing a different line here.

It's quite a bit worse because they aren't drawing a line. Is there any rule making that has completed that supports their commercial vs. non-commercial claims. And it's not clear that the FAA is enforcing any existing promulgated rule or regulation.

Their actions against commercial drone operators just appear to be arbitrary.

Comment: Re:Malice? more like incompetence... (Score 1) 495

by danheskett (#47357965) Attached to: Microsoft Takes Down Domains

Agree this is extremely sloppy. In fact, it's tempting to take the motion, replace the parties, and file it against Microsoft against some unsuspecting judge, with regardings to the next broken update that Microsoft pushes down the wire to Windows or Office. It is functionally identical to the claims they make and demonstrate.

It's also just not true. There is no irreparable harm that justifies exigency, the ex parte motion making, or the TRO. The harm is of course reparable. There is nothing stating why it had to be granted today. No real reason.

Comment: Re:Should the US government censor political blogs (Score 1) 308

by danheskett (#47298983) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

The people arguing about disproportionate influence are doing a bad job. Disproportionate influence is poorly stated way of saying "disproportionate access". People with lots of money have additional access to the levers of influence than others. You can still have idiots like Karl Rove and his "maths" spending a quarter billion dollars and still loosing badly. And you can still have idiot billionaires like Zukerburg and Murdoch trying to reform immigration, despite it's overall unpopularity.

Comment: Re:Should the US government censor political blogs (Score 1) 308

by danheskett (#47298959) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

In your theory, the tort is not that you can't donate to Democrats, it's that you can donate to Republicans. It's a clear cut equal protection clause. The government must have a compelling state interest in regulating the donation to Democrats but not Republicans, otherwise, it fails equal protection and is unconstitutional.

It is not a 1st amendment issue either under current law or any previous interpretation of it.

Comment: This is what a right is (Score 5, Insightful) 128

by danheskett (#47296269) Attached to: Prisoners Freed After Cops Struggle With New Records Software

I see this is an unmitigated good thing. Accused of a violent crime or not, we are all endowed with the right, recognized and protected by the Constitution, to due process, and a speedy trial.

IT problems don't abridge that right. Police officers having a tough day don't abridge that right. The learning curve doesn't abridge that.

Comment: Re:Oh my ... (Score 1) 253


It's not nearly as bad as you think. When you think about where you want us to be, and how far we are, consider that, even with the largest propaganda effort in 50 years working 24/7, with endless patriotic messages and the complete fabrication of a cause for war, the Iraqi war was never that popular. On it's best day, it was a bare majority. After it started, it immediately lost it's luster and it never recovered. War, and the things you mentioned, are deeply unpopular.

What we have are three related problems:

1. The propaganda machine makes it difficult to get oxygen to dissenting points of view. You can thank the White House and the Judy Miller's and Robert Novaks of the world.

2. The Government can spend without sacrifice to do things that we don't want them to do. I give Pres. Obama immense credit for stepping back on Syria. There is a cadre of powerful people in this country who will never stop trying to get the US to insert itself into foreign conflicts. Every massacre, every war crime is another sick opportunity to contort American in the world cop role. People are wise to it. Syria was a strong indicator that the easy quick cable-war error is declining.

3. People are afraid, irrationally, of things that are not that realistic.

The way to solve all three involving a mandatory enforced balanced budget. The mans for paying for the Iraq war is what was missing that would have stopped the invasion. Bush got 100% Republican support and about 1/3 of the Democrats to codify the Iraqi war. The missing element was we should have been asked to pay for it. Taxes, reductions in spending, something to pay for it. Congress has abdicated it's spending authority and purse strings, and it's a real shame.

Comment: Re:Oh my ... (Score 1) 253


You are completely right and it's great to hear it. The creation and systematization of "unlawful" status is the largest shame on America's soul since Vietnam. And you are right. To this day, we have CIA officers who can't leave the US because we used these shameful tactics to kidnap men off the street of foreign countries, in daylight, and spirit them away.

We have strayed from that idea that we have rights, granted by the creator, that are unalienable. Even if they want to kill us, they have a right endowed by God to due process. Even if they want to kill Americans, or poison Apple pie, or ruin baseball, they have rights. Not from the paper, not from the people, but from the creator.

The chickens are really coming home to roost.

Comment: Re:Oh my ... (Score 1) 253

All of that said, these foes are best described as insurgents or terrorists. They are willing to engage both military and civilian targets, to impersonate members of any local police or military, and are not themselves signatory to the Geneva Conventions and thus denied their protections. Their tactics involve terrorism and generally involve destabilization of a region which would basically be an insurgency against the existing power structure.

You are woefully wrong. Three main points:

1. There is no person who is not protected under the Geneva Conventions. At all. The question is how much protection. If you are a protected person under the 4th convention, you are owed additional protections. If you are not a protected person, you are treated according to one of the four buckets of treatment: non-combatant, combatant, surrendered or wounded combatant. In any case, there is no way under the Convention to hold a person indefinitely. If they are not a protected person, they must be released when hostilities are concluded. Now, you can say, "hey, we [were] occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, so the hostilities were not concluded", but if do say that, then the person is a national held by an occupying power.. which then confers to the prisoner Protected person status. And now you know why the Bush and Obama administration have created from thin-air the "unlawful" status. It does not exist, it's a legal fiction, and it's only reason to exist is to prevent the US government from treating the detainees as proper POW's or as protected persons. It is shameful.

2. Many individuals the government has treated as "unlawful combatants" are actually members of signatory countries. For example, British citizens, Saudi citizens, Egyptians, etc. When you say that they are not nationals of countries that are signatories to the conventions, it's often completely untrue.

3. There really isn't any circumstance that would permit any government from holding people without end, without charge. Either the captured men are soliders, in which case, they are POW's, and must be returned, or they are criminals, and they must be tried, or they are terrorists, and they must be tried.

Ernest asks Frank how long he has been working for the company. "Ever since they threatened to fire me."