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Comment Re:And you fail at petitions (Score 1) 765

Congress can only exercise the powers that the constitution grants it. In some areas (like the ACA mandate) there is legitimate disagreement about the proper scope for that grant of power (does commerce clause allow Congress to pass laws regulating economic inactivity? I think Raich and Wickard were wrongly decided too, but the fact that I don't disagree with the law doesn't give me license to disobey it).

There is no meaningful dispute that Congress can impeach its own members. It can't. The impeachment power may be exercised over the following persons: (let's read it together now, Article 2 section 4): "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors."

senators (and ex-senators) are not Article 2 "civil Officers." This clause is commonly understood to apply to executive branch persons appointed by the president. It also applies to federal judges, who are (guess what?) appointed by the president.

Congress members are not subject to the impeachment powers of their own house, because the constitution doesn't grant that power to the House or the Senate.

Comment You fail at the constitution (Score 1) 765

Impeachment is not available as a remedy against Article 1 elected officials. Impeachment is a power granted to Article 1 as a tool to be used against Article 2 and Article 3.

See Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 and Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7.

Article 1 gives both houses of Congress the power to police and sanction their own members, but good luck getting them to use it.

Comment Re:Why on earth would I save? (Score 1) 182

We'd be damn lucky to see only 8%. Food costs went up 4% month over month in February alone, the greatest monthly increase since 1974. Assume the February increase is double the "actual" rate and we'd still be looking at 25% year-over-year inflation.

Core inflation in 1974 was about 12% over the entire year. It was
over 30% for the period from 1973-1975. This is significant because
there is general agreement about the causes of the violent inflation
of the early 70s: The global financial order fundamentally changed in
1971 and 1972, when Nixon ended the Bretton Woods agreement and took
the US entirely off the gold standard. We had to go off gold because
we were printing too much money to pay for the war in Vietnam, which
devalued the dollar.

Sound familiar?

Spending on Vietnam created an arbitrage opportunity for [french]
people to buy dollars, exchange them for gold at the US-pegged price
of $35 per oz of gold, and then sell the gold on the market for
$40ish. When the US went off gold and floated our currency, there was
a long (5-10 year) period of economic shock while everyone had to work
out what happened. Part of the consequence was widespread price
inflation in the US. This turned out to be a good thing for
people who had 30-yr fixed mortgage payments, but not such a great thing for profits at banks.

The spot price for an ounce of gold today is hovering around $1400 /oz.

Last month's food and energy price increases will not show up in
CPI-based adjustments to wages and durable-goods prices because the US
bureau of labor statistics excludes those costs from its calculations.

Good thing people don't include the cost of food or gas in their
estimated cost of living.

Comment Re:Hrm (Score 1) 338

again, no. OP and the rest of this thread is about a ruling in a civil case, where the cause of action is civil copyright infringement. here's a link to the entire docket. Notice how there are no state parties involved? That's because infringement for non-commercial use is a civil violation.

17 USC 506 provides for criminal penalties in cases of infringement for commercial purposes or for financial gain. No one is accusing the downloaders in this case of selling their copies, so 506 is not relevant to this conversation.

Comment Not good enough (Score 1) 338

Your personal information is not "private." Your ISP can easily relate your IP address back to your personal information, and they will happily happily do so and then release the information to comply with a subpoena.

I don't know enough about Tor to say whether it might help to conceal your identity from other nodes on the internet... but if it does, that might be enough to avoid this kind of problem.

Comment Re:Hrm (Score 1) 338

If it was a criminal case, you'd have real 4th-Amendment and 1st-Amendment issues. As it is, we're talking about a civil matter, and those constraints don't apply to non-state plaintiffs.

Judge Collyer isn't breaking new ground here- it's generally accepted by US courts that individuals can have no expectation that information they freely give to other persons is "private." I think one of the problems here is that people are confusing "personal" with "private." Your personal information is not necessarily "private," in either the ordinary sense or in the technical legal sense.

Your name is not private. Your street address is not private. Your vehicle license plate number is not private. In many states, your driver's license number and your driving records are not private.

In this case, the USCG is asking the ISP to give up the names and mailing addresses of people who were using certain IP addresses at a given time on a given date. Since names and mailing addresses are not private, neither the ISP nor the people using those addresses can claim "privacy" as a reason not to comply with this request.

That's just how it is. People who are reacting to this with surprise are wrong to blame the judge in this case- her ruling was made according to well-settled law. She cited this portion of her analysis to cases in the 4th and 6th circuit courts of appeals, and there are similar decisions from several of the other circuits as well.

You can read the whole order here: Order denying motion to quash.

Now, if the question was whether your ISP could turn over your DNS logs, effectively showing the list of sites you were connected to and the dates and times of connection... well, that's a very different sort of thing.

(why yes, I am a lawyer working on some of these cases).

The Internet

Submission + - Can You Read Wikileaks In A Fascist Police State? ( 1

oliphaunt writes: Zero Hedge makes the case that a pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean that the USA now has the necessary characteristics to be classified as a police state, which means you better stop reading wikileaks if you don't want to be disappeared to Guantanamo (or somewhere worse):

For example, if the Executive- in the form of the Secretary of State -decides that, say, WikiLeaks or Amnesty International is a terrorist organization, well then by golly, it is a terrorist organization. It no longer has any right to free speech — nor can anyone else speak to them or associate with them, for risk of being charged with providing "material support" to this heinous terrorist organization known as Amnesty International. But furthermore, as per Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, anyone associating with WikiLeaks — including, presumably, those who read it, and most certainly those who give it information about government abuses-- would be guilty of aiding and abetting terrorism.

Comment Re:There's two issues here (Score 1) 263

Or, you know, the Palm Treo series. I got my first one in 2003. Still have a 755p now, but shopping for an android to replace it (droid 2 probably, I'm a sucker for hardware keyboard). Palm OS had an open dev environment, free SDK availability, widely distributed app downloads, native ssh and imap clients, the first big (for the time) color touchscreens, data tethering over usb cable and bluetooth, etc etc etc.

Too bad they were so goddamn stupid at actually running a business that they've never made a profit.

And the Pre feels like a piece of junk.

Comment the plural of "anecdote" (Score 2, Interesting) 233

first a nugget of fact, then some commentary:

1. When we moved to Portland, Oregon, we had Qwest come out to the house to rewire one of the phone jacks because the mooks who hooked it up to the outside world crosswired the connections- we didn't even have dial tone. After the tech fixed the problem, first thing he did after confirming DSL sync was to run a speed test. I asked him if that was SOP and he said that he was trained to always run a speed test for new customers- he suggested that it might be part of an upsell but that he doesn't like selling so he never comments (oh, you're only getting 750k down, but you're in an area where 7/1 MB service is available... did you know you can upgrade for just $3.50/month!???? ...). YMMV but if this is SOP for Qwest on installs, there is one population of regular testers.

2. I agree with earlier commenters- there is probably a self-selecting sampling bias.

3. Because of #2, any "data" they collect is probably very skewed towards computer-savvy users who are demanding higher-speed services and using their website to check if the service they're getting matches what they're paying for. Unless there are some details of the methodology that they're not telling us about, the survey probably reports higher bandwidth than actually is delivered to the majority of people with net access in those cities. If it's just a simple aggregation & average of whoever decides to click on from inside a given city's IP range, well, that probably tells you something... but it's probably not a good proxy for a complete picture of "last mile" connectivity.

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