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Comment Re:READ the Constitution Marissa (Score 1) 524

I was responding to the summary quotation that releasing classified information is treason. For a release of classified information to be treason, and not just illegal, you'd have to prove it was giving aid and comfort to our enemies. There's plenty of wiggle room in both directions when it comes to defining: aid, comfort, and enemy.

Her statement, assuming she quoted accurately and in context, is wrong and it furthers an illegitimate end, in my opinion, by reinforcing the belief that the federal government can pretty much do as it pleases and we shouldn't be asking any inconvenient questions about it.

Comment READ the Constitution Marissa (Score 3, Informative) 524

No, Marissa, it is not treason:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

That's treason. Releasing classified information isn't treason per se unless it meets one of the Constitutional criteria laid out above.

Comment Re:Holy Fuck People! (Score 2) 688

There was at one time a rationale for the law. Legend has it that when auto manufacturers first started selling cars they relied really heavily on dealers to take the risk of introducting this new-fangled device and building a durable market for it. After the market had been established and the risk eliminated the dealers felt, not unreasonably, that it was a bit unfair to allow the manufacturer to barge in and simply drive all the dealers out of business.

Personally, I think if the dealers were dumb enough not to have protected themselves contractually from this completely foreseeable risk they they deserved to be run out of business. Most (all?) State legislators didn't share that viewpoint though (and I'm sure the big campaign donations didn't hurt) and we ended up with the system we've got today.

I think it's reasonable to say that this model of government enforced monopoly has outlived its usefulness, however, inertia in the system means we're likely to have to live with it for a while longer.

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

Yes, strictly speaking, you're correct. You don't _need_ to form a corporation. However, it's often convenient and more effective.

Should labor unions be prevented from participating in elections?

What about newspapers, television, or radio stations?

How about your local Rotary club?

Remember, had it gone the other way, the levers of power won't always be in the hands of people you like or trust. My personal opinion is that we'd be better served by a well documented and transparent free-for-all than the hodge-podge of hacks we deal with today.

Comment Re:Ya'll seem to be forgetting something important (Score 1) 259

Hate to respond to a trolling AC, but just can't resist.

Knowing that I have a mobile phone, or that I'm using it, isn't the same thing as knowing where I am 24/7, who I've called, how long I talked, etc. That information isn't normally discernible by anyone but me, the recipients of my communication, and the telecom providers I've contracted with to enable that communication. In other words, it's not public information.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 259

The phone company and I have a private contract to which the government isn't a party. The government wants to argue that since I disclosed that data to _anyone_ it is no longer private information but their argument is absurd. By their logic any information I shared with any person or entity instantly becomes public for the purposes of government snooping. The only possible way to avoid it would be to live in a self-sustaining box somewhere interacting with no-one, intentionally or unintentionally. In other words dead.

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

While I respect the financial acumen that allows you to make material ad buys during campaign season, most of the rest of us can't afford to buy time to influence a national election. I'm sure you're a perfectly cromulent individual, but I don't really want our political discourse to be dictated only by those individuals who can independently afford it.

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

Scott, Wickard, and Kelo were indeed all offenses against core Constitutional principles (although you could argue, and I wouldn't, that Scott was consistent with the immoral racial discrimination built directly into the Constituation at the time of it's drafting), however, Citizens United was a solid win for both Constitutional adherence and for freedom in general. You should be celebrating it, instead of criticizing it.

Citizens United held (correctly) that people don't lose their 1st amendment rights simply because they've exercised their right to peacefully assemble. CU re-affirmed the right of people you like, as well as those you don't, to assemble and petition their government. I'm sure you can think of some examples where you'd be very unhappy if they'd reached the opposite conclusion.

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

Which is where the SCOTUS went off the rails on privacy and the 4th. It was a huge failure of imagination on the part of the majority. While I'm on-board with the idea that there needs to be an 'expectation of privacy', I don't think that privately contracting with a third party abrogates my rights under the 4th amendment.

Now, had the SCOTUS argued that as a quasi-public monopoly, the petitioner had already shared that information with the government and therefore had no expectation of privacy from the government the ruling would have made more sense and been a justifiable (IMO) interpretation of the 4th. (This case reached the Supreme Court in 1979 and AT&T wasn't broken up and privatized until 1984.)

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

Ok, I'll bite: let's say we used a constitutional convention to address our current situation. How in the world would you make the 4th amendment any clearer or more specific?

This isn't a case of differing interpretations of what the amendment means; the Federal government is completely ignoring the plain text of their ultimate controlling document. Worse, where our State and Federal representatives have not been completely compliant in this voilation, they've at best been too apathetic to raise even the most cursory objections. The Constitution isn't what needs to be fixed here.

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

A lot of this turns on the 'expectation of privacy.' I would argue that a reasonable person expects that her comings-and-goings are not broadly available public information and that her location information is voluntarily exchanged with a private party in exchange for location dependent services.

Or to put it another way, I think most people expect a certain level of anonymity in their daily travels. Sharing location information should be opt-in, not opt-out. You are privileged to have that information, Mr. Phone Company, because I choose to share it with you, not because you have a natural right to know it.

Comment Re:Then maybe it's time for some new laws... (Score 1) 259

I understand you're not trying to defend FISA and I agree that as the law is written the DoJ has a foundation for their (incorrect) beliefs. However, the 4th isn't just about your home; your house is only one of four things specifically mentioned in the 4th: your person, your house, your papers, and your effects. Privately entrusting my papers and effects to a third party doesn't (and here I'm going against past SCOTUS precedent) automatically remove my 4th amendment protections.

Moreover, while we can argue whether or not the FISA warrants meet the specificity requirements of the 4th (and I don't believe they do), they are still missing a fundamental requirement for the warrant to be valid: probable cause. It's not probable cause OR specificity, it's probable cause AND specificity.

The EFF might think they have a better chance to win on 1st amendment grounds (and a heartily disagree) but they're doing everyone a disservice by pretending violations of the 4th amendment isn't the core issue here.

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