Huh? DAPRA GC was not a good thing?



Yes, I meant heavier than air, I thought heavier than air, I wanted to make the distinction to allow from not-heavier than air which had prior history and existence, and I slipped and _wrote_ lighter than air. I see I made a number of other typos in that post.
I was pretty impassioned at that point. I knew the Wrights had been treated badly. I had just found out how badly. I just didn't know how very applicable their plight was, their loss of legal rights, to what I was saying was the likely results of DARPA GC, until I read that paragraph about the government setting aside their patent rights.
Perhaps the difference between me and others here, is in my 3+ years as an officer in the navy, in my year and a half at Comptek Research as an engineer, in my 3+ years at Rockwell International as a scientist (with much less exposure to the military), in my 5 year ordeal with my own company, selling tank fire simulators to the Army (which bankrupt the prime, and took me years to finally get paid for what the Army went ahead and used immediately anyway).
BTW, I think one of those big companies eventually got the contract to maintain the boxes I built. I went down and gave a presentation to about a dozen engineers who tried to pick apart my design, unsuccessfully I might add. I'm sure they were paid more to maintain that equipment, than I was to design and build it. And remember, I still wasn't even fully paid for several more years.
In my many discussions with my 75 yo co-worker, Bill Stewart, who worked for E-systems among others, I don't recall every hearing a story about a contract with the military that went smoothly, with no law suites, and no chicanery, with no privileged information getting passed around where it shouldn't have been, with no competitors ripping off ideas. Not one example. None. Maybe the stories where things went right just aren't worth telling. But his experiences parallel my experiences.
Let me tell you about just one of Bill's stories. Did you know we had the equivalent of the Preditor and Global Hawk in the early '60s? The company Bill worked for, on their own dollar, came up with an RC plane made on a Switzer glider (iirc). They demonstrated it for the military. It was a working system. Tremendous range and duration. Since they were the only ones that had it, the military said they couldn't buy it from them as a single source. They forced them to turn over plans to their competitors so they could have a competition to see who could build the best one. (Remember, the military didn't fund this project, it was a private development.) After the competition, they awarded the contract to the competitor, and the competitor muffed it. Millions later it was cancelled. Tthe Army pilots didn't like to shown up by a pilotless vehicle, so they fought it. The company who made it, never got a dime.
So I have some, but still limited, exposure to such matters compared to most government contractors, and this is only my experience.
I passed it along before, and now after, our little robot community answered the call to avarice and fame. I want us to have our eyes wide open.
I haven't said much about it before, but half a dozen of our products (of those we know about) went into the race in multiple teams. We know because some took weeks of support with us chasing phantom problems, some of which seemed native to the platform they were installed in, an environment beyond what the design was envisioned for. Yet we overcame them. While this improved our products, and we appreciate that, the support also had a real dollar cost us, far exceeding our total sales dollars, let alone anything like profits.
Many of these competitiors asked us to donate our products, to sponsor their teams. I felt I had to remain impartial since several teams were using our products, and of course I felt I would not give away things to a cause I saw as bogus from the outset.
I was offered half the prize to be come the lead programmer on one of the teams for the second race by one of the vehicles that showed great promise in the first race. I seriously considered it. But eventually I turned it down on principle.
So to this extend, I am not a disinterested party. I have (minorly) less money in my pocket today, because DARPA came up with a get rich scheme. Not only am I actually (marginally) poorer, the contest also distracted my customers from their intended useful tasks, and left them all jubilant at the great competition, but flat broke. Without cash flow from their efforts, they weren't customers any more were they?
Think about opportunity loss. It's like we lost several years of our intellectual "children" sacrificed on the alter of non-profit. If all these racers were designing new products, and if they'd bought a few boards from me (or any other supplier in our industry for that matter) wouldn't some of them be coming back for some small volume sales by now? Yes, usually, volume sales follow prototype sales. Do I expect a flood of sales now for the new fleet of DARPA inspired autonomous vehicles about to come streaming out of American factories? No. There's been talk, but I'm not holding my breath.
Likewise, I think our entire industry felt the effects. If you see robot suppliers cutting back, or folding, think what DARPA might have had to do with it. Will Servo Magazine survive? Well... I won't speak for them, but where are the nifty articles from DARPA research? Where are the inspiring projects from DARPA research? Or were all our guys out building dessert dust buggies instead of writing? And just how is cash flow at T&L Publications? Sorry to say, I haven't done them justice, although I don't owe them anything right now. But I stopped advertizing a year ago, and just now placed a couple test ads. Gather many others are in same boat.
So how do we recoup our investments? No one in our industry made a profit here (maybe Sick lasers). Even the guys who won $2 million, lost $8 million doing so. No profit there. How as an industry do we rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Darpa??? I, for one, have no desire to be turning into a full time government supplier again. Experience is what you get, when you don't get what you want. I'm experienced. Is that what you competitors see for your future?
If history repeats, anyone who wants (meaning the existing contractors who already took a billion dollars to produce almost nothing) can copy all that was done out of the required white papers (and again sell that for more billions of dollars, because the cost isn't about what is made, but what it costs to get the business).
If that violates a patent, since this is a time of war, that little detail can just be set aside, just as history teaches us. They have the connections to get the lucrative government contracts, and the vast staff to handle all the make-work paperwork the government saddles them with, and know how to grease the buyers with the right kind of.. what... answers? assurances? golf outings? (maybe "kickbacks"? or however it works, I was never sure, but it didn't seem to be low bid).
Nope, I made a decision a long time ago to stay away from supplying the military as my primary business, for the sake of keeping my soul and sanity, in for none other. I also shun get rich quick schemes, whether it is a letter from Nigeria, any sort of Ponzi scheme, or an invite to a contest by DARPA. I look on both with the same kind of suspicion. None deserve my time and life's blood. I'm saddened to see it was taken out of our industry and by the way it was done.No, overall, I don't think DARPA GC was a good thing.
--
Randy M. Dumse

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snip...

But but but,
you are not forced to sell your product to anyone. You can turn down orders. My puny little company has fired quite a few customers over the years. Based on your posts here,you seem to be a man of principle. AnNd yet, you were involved with the DARPA race.

But it's okay to sell those things, that's the name of the capitalist game, which I wholeheartedly endorse.

No, they were not. But, in your book, it seems as though they were not very good customers to begin with. I have a handful of customers who like to eat up my time. I ignore them as much as possible. Time is the most precious thing I have, it is how I make a living.

Then you have already spent too much time screwing around with those people. Perhaps you should reconsider your product base?

You are correct. It is a flawed "good ole boy" system. It's the only one we got. You are not forced to play. Remember what Winston Churchill said about democracy.

And everyone here respects your opinion.
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We fire customers too. As soon as they identify themselves as acting in bad faith.

Thanks, I try. Or maybe I should say I am tried.

No, I was involved with my customers. Support comes with the sale, especially when something is our problem, and some of the issues were definitely our problem. What they were doing with my product is another thing entirely.

Oh, there we disagree. The very first customer to go volume, and put NMI on the map years and years back, was a major pain in the behind. He really put me to it, but then he came back and bought volume. So I tell my folks, the customer that is most difficult to serve, is the one others won't serve. So if you serve him right, he will love you for it.

Hah! I do that all the time. Unfortunately, I have a processor which is especially good at motion control. So I have an interest in robotics. But then there is also my own experimenter/hobbiest side. Sometimes (as in almost always) its hard to separate my life and my interest.
--
Randy M. Dumse

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The Wright Brothers didn't end up with a big airline company, but they did pretty well for a while. Much better than before the airplane. They were world heros, lived richly, and failed to become leaders of industry due to a serious of bad technical and business decisions.
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Yes, this post has red flags all over it. Words like unconstitutional are used too often without any argument whatsoever to back them up. Which part of the constitution did they go against?

I doubt that any of the participants failed to grasp this aspect. I believe they voluntarily signed over their IP rights, and I don't know how smart and intelligent people could fail to recognize what they were doing. I gather you think they were robbed in some way?

Stole? You just said they signed them to the DOD? Voluntarily. I wouldn't be so cavalier in calling the robotic community stupid.

Now your way out there. Elected representatives are just that. The burden of proof needs to be set a bit higher in the depths of your mind. You accept things too easily.

They got recognition, probably additional contracts, exposure etc. I'm sure they knew what they were doing, and weren't duped as you suggest.

Oh... Thanks for the compliment. The robotics community are a bunch of ignorant bumpkins. You are not only insulting the intelligent people who took part, but also a large segment of American culture at the same time. People who attend county fairs and other community events are just as smart as the rest of us.

If someone else had crossed the finish line first, then they would have won. If the DOD knew Stanford would be successful then there wouldn't have been a competition. A little critical thinking is required here. Stanford could have used the $20mil elsewhere and still had money left over. I'm pretty sure Stanford gets a large amount of private funding each year, and I wouldn't consider them a government agency.

You don't know what the source of their funding was. You are making wild speculations.

I'm just surprised at this rant. If Stanford, or Carnegie Melon had gotten a flat tire then the conspiracy would have failed. Thats quite a lot to leave to chance. Especially when all they had to do was go to one of these Universities to begin with. I can hear them now... "Yes, of course we already know Stanford knows how to do it... but you don't understand... we have to take advantage of people somehow... We _Have_ to have a competition just so the universities can spend money they already have to chase a prize we might have to give someone else if they happen to finish first... These country bumpkins won't know what hit 'em when we reveal that they signed away their research... just imagine when they find out their research is indiscriminately killing people around the world - bwahahahahaha."

Because it didn't happen.

So first the Universities are a DOD shill, then for budgetary purposes they are again part of the Robotics community.

You don't know that. I think they at least got a kiss.

I hope some people are actually thinking. By the looks of the successful competition it is obvious some people were thinking, and very proficiently I might add. To compare the participants in this competition with Nazi scientists etc. is bizarre in the extreme. I really don't know what to say about this. How about: I hope you can get over your moral relativism, and see things for what they are.

Yes, I see that now.
Brent S.
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Brent S. wrote:

Unless they changed the rules from last year, contenstants KEEP all IP rights. It would be seriously stupid to do otherwise, as the technology behind a fully autonomous outdoor vehicle is worth billions. However, this doesn't prevent the government from making a contract with anyone, not just the winner, at fair market prices. I'm not even sure DARPA gets first dibs, though the government always reserves the right to commandeer technology out of the national interest.
-- Gordon
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believe
and
gather
Sorry. I thought I might be wrong, but I didn't want to bother checking through all the fine print, so I assumed Mr. Dumse was right.
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A big assumption, that.
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|\/| /| |2 |<
mehaase(at)gmail(dot)com
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wrote:

Particular since he is misrepresenting what he said, as what I said. Read it again. He read it wrong, he reported it wrong, and he blaimed me for getting it wrong. It's more than an assumption there; it is a callous or malicious misrepresentation; and an attempt to blame me for his own mistake.
Now I take it your post is a quip aimed at my position. I understand my position is not popular. That does not make it incorrect. I refer you to Voltaire's Essay on Tolerance: "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privelege to do so too".
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Randy M. Dumse

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wrote:

Please, if anything it was a misunderstanding, not callous or malicious. I have no animous towards you, and I am actually a very nice guy. I hope you realize I will happily back up any statement you make which I agree with, and will gladly change my position when I am shown to be wrong.
What you said was: "They just _gave_ their work to the inspectors, ignoring their own property rights, in order to have a chance at the prize". I think you can see how I could easily misunderstand this statement. I hope we can move beyond this.
Brent S.
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Sorry? and somehow it is my fault??? Can't you even live up to your own mistakes, and misguided assumptions, without blaming me?
I didn't say the contestants signed their intellectual rights away. You were the one who said that.
(I was actually shocked when you said they did, and it was something I was going to look through the fine print myself to see. Thanks to Gordon for saving me from a wild goose chase.)
I said "They just _gave_ their work to the inspectors, ignoring their own property rights, in order to have a chance at the prize" meaning they wrote the requested white papers, and let inspectors investigate their claims at their own labs, with on-site visits, which could have been and should have been refused by Constitutionally guaranteed right, with no change in their race-qualification status. Just as you are able to refuse a search of the trunk of your car, without probable cause to do so, so all robot builders had the right to refuse to disclose their technologies or demonstrate it for inspectors. The fact that none of the "sheeple" actually stood up for their rights, and took the feds to court shows how far down the road we've gone.
I am not responsible for your inability to read. Grow up.
Further, I said government inspectors stole the best they came up with. I say that because I got private email from someone who competed the first year, congratulating me on seeing through the ruse from the beginning. They didn't understand what I was saying until afterwards, when they saw what happened with the inspectors for themselves.
They also said they'd overheard a cornel saying the whole race was a way to shame the prime contractor into lowering their price on research. DARPA didn't really give a hoot about the contest otherwise. It had already done its work, and the prime was already contrite, they'd won a financial victory.
While I recognize, one letter is a thin data set, I took their testimony for first hand experience, and deemed them credible as far as I could tell. Their experience dovetails well with my own experience as prior Naval Officer, and civilian military system supplier, both at Rockwell, then at my own company (where I learned first hand designs "handed around" by inspectors to other suppliers). I used the testimony I received as the basis of my pronouncement. I have heard of no full accounting of the source or destination of inspectors, to the contrary, to counter their position. Of course, we have to classify this as hearsay in a legal sense, since I am not a first hand witness. If I had direct, first hand evidence, I would file charges, but without it, I cannot. If anyone else does, I would strongly encourage them to file charges.
--
Randy M. Dumse

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Randy M. Dumse wrote:

Assuming your claim is correct (a big assumption), that government inspectors visited the team's labs, I don't see how this is a problem or how it relates to any Constitutional matters. We're not talking about police searching someone's car for evidence of murder. We're talking about *voluntary* participants in a contest. Barring discrimination or other *real* legal concerns, if the contestants disagreed with any portion of the contest's rules they were free to compete elsewhere. Building an autonomous robot that can drive through the desert is not something you need government permission to do.

Is that another paraphrasing of Voltaire's essay on tolerance?

After receiving a single email, you've indicted the competition and the government of serious criminal activity? I shudder to think how you responded to the emails you get about UFOs, Viagra, and Nigerian bank loans.
Btw, the next time you start a flame-feast on Usenet, you might not want to use your company email address. Having started this debate is hardly something you want associated with your real name, much less your professional image. I only hope you didn't waste company time on this.
Chris
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<big snips>

Why , you would prefer people to hide behind false email addresses ?
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Alex Gibson wrote:

It was a piece of friendly advice for the reasons I stated. However, if he wants to associate Newmicros with wild political and criminal allegations, then he's certainly free to do so.
Chris
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I believe that statement is pretty clear. Perhaps you would like to define what _gave_ means with repect to the term "property rights" in that sentence. That is unless you want to determine what the meaning of "is" is.

Even adults make mistakes. It is an understandable one considering your statement. Nevertheless, my arguments stand up, even if an individual statement is in error. That's a claim I don't believe you can make in this discussion. I make no apologies for my contention that this isn't some grand conspiracy, and that the DOD is acting in good faith to do what our elected representatives have asked them. I believe once you start parsing sentences and telling people to grow up you have ventured off the subject and into ad hominem land. Perfection is a lot to ask for, especially considering you nor anyone else can offer it. Now, back to the subject at hand...
Brent S.
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Brent S. wrote:

The wording is basically the same as it was last year:
"DARPA claims no intellectual property (IP) rights from entrants..." and they go on to say that includes the winner. They disclaim any right to trade secrets, patents, copyrights, etc.
I re-read Randy's comments (he's a good guy, give him a break! <g>) and it does look like he suggests otherwise, but I realize there are other things than assigning formal IP rights. For example, DARPA can see what's possible, glean enough non-proprietary information from the contestants, then go to their favorite defense contractor and say, "See, it *can* be done! Now get to work!!"
Will they do that? Doubtful. It's cheaper just to buy the technology they want, since the gobment can set the value if they deem the technology critical to national interests. I think the Grand Challenge is more about a fishing expedition where you find the fish, but don't take any out just yet. But you know where the catch is, and that's the secret to good fishin'. Before this who knew where the next breakthroughs in AV's would come from. A Volkswagon??
While I'm not keen on developing yet another way to kill a human being, I also recognize the potential in SAVING lives, and this is where a whole cottage industry can crop up. Like the deer/moose thing (one respondant was absolutely correct -- hit a moose at 50-60 MPH, and you better have your will made out). Since the AVs in the Grand Challenge route are basically a Hummer-full of sensors, who can say what else those sensors might do, apart from driving a vehicle into a desert one night so it can fire a gattling gun at some people it suspects are terrorists? (In which case fire away, but what if they're not...)
I prefer not to think about the possible misuse of this technology, and concentrate on the positive ones. The fact that DARPA has a budget to fund these things is, well, a fact of life. Our Apollo missions weren't all about bringing back some moon rocks, after all. The US government has never been altruistic, depsite what we may want to think.
-- Gordon
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Why are you suprised it was a VW? That company, started by the NAZIs to make , among other things, killing machines, has been a great inovator from the start. I'm just glad it wasn't Honda.

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You request specifics: Okay, I'll play. Equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment With extension of application to the Federal government under the 5th.
http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/equal_protection.html
"Generally, the question of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in activity yet denies other individuals the same right."
When DARPA, before the first grand challenge sent inspectors out to decide who they were going to qualify or disqualify prior to competition, ie, which class of entrants they were going to allow to compete and which they were not by an unpublish set of "rules" of their own devising, the were in violation of the law.
When DARPA made "site visits" a requirement for entry in both competition, they were in violation of the 4th Amendment, which prohibits "searches" (no matter how nice a little name you put on them) without probable cause and a warrant.
Then there is a larger issue under the "takings" and "equal protection" clauses, whether it is legal to tax many, and to give to selected few. (I think Brian would have a good case to sue for his 2 million, for having completed the task. To make a case against having a special class for Stanford, is at least arguable, but I don't suppose to know the final disposition it might attain.)
You might say, yeah, but it is a race! A race must have a winner. And I'll then ask you, where in the Constitution it says the government is allowed to put on races? I can show you exactly where it is prohibited from doing anything not specified in the Constitution. Just have a read of the 10th. In brief, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution... are reserved to the states ... or to the people." If it doesn't say, "sponsor races" in the Constitution, then US sponsored races are patently unconstitutional.
Let's turn the spot light around, and approach this from the correct legal stance given the 10th. Please repay the favor of reply with specifics. Which part of the Constitution allowed DARPA to do the G.C. race? Give us a Constitutionally based argment for why it is legal for the federal government to sponsor races with tax dollars. Can you find support for it? Or shall we all conclude the Grand Challenge was wholely unconstitutional from its conception? Because, if there isn't something in the Constitution allowing it, there _is_ something in the Constitution prohibiting it.
You say, "Words like unconstitutional are used too often" and I say, since every single action of government must be checked to see if it is constitutional before it is commissioned, words like unconstitutional are not used enough. Anyone who argues otherwise, argues against the Constitution, and doesn't deserve the protections they enjoy. If enough of us do it, remain ignorant, do not require the agents in our government to fully comply with law, we won't have to worry about those protections anymore.
If you haven't read, or listened, to any major Supreme Court hearing, I highly recommend a series of tapes called "May it Please the Court" where you will hear the Justices often querying the presenting attorneys if they see any application of the 4th, 5th or 14th to the cases before them, and how seriously they take the letter of the law.
--
Randy M. Dumse

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Define the class of individuals. Do they share a common race, ethnicity, or gender?

I don't think machines fall under the equal protection clause. I think you are doing your best to look for things which might be unconstitutional because you have other issues with the Govt.

Since the visits were a requirement for entry, and entry was voluntary, then the participants voluntarily agreed to the site visits. To equate this to police/government unconstitutional searches is laughable.

This was put on by the DOD. The constitution allows the Government to defend this country. The Military gets to decide how best to do it. The constitution does not specify exactly how. Heres an equivalent argument: I can't find MREs in the constitution, therefor the troops shouldn't be allowed to eat. They definitely shouldn't be allowed to set up cafeterias... that would be unconstitutional. I don't think micromanaging the DOD would be explicitly specified in the constitution.

Again... Feeding the military is unconstitutional because it isn't specifically stated in the constitution.

Hmmm... let me see here... I guess we could start with the preamble: "provide for the common defence". Well, there's a start. ...Searching through text... here we go, here in Section 8: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; ... ...To raise and support Armies, ... To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; ... ...To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers,"
I suppose when you come right down to it, it is the part about supporting an Army, and making laws necessary to do so. Appointment of officers is necessary because they need to organize races, and make other decisions based on the current needs. :-)

You can conclude anything you want, but if you are sane and honest, then the above argument works.

If every use of the word unconstitutional were backed up then it would be used just enough. Unfortunately it is used by those who have no idea what the constitution actually says.

Thanks for assuming I am ignorant.

This happens all to often, but I never saw myself in that bunch... Thanks.

Given the current make up of the Supreme Court, there are few whos opinions I would respect anyway. A conscience is a necessity in good politicians and judges.
Brent S.
Brent S.
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Randy M. Dumse wrote:

This has been standard practice in government procurement for decades. Before putting a lot of time into negotiating with a bidder, first make sure that they actually look like they can deliver a product. That way you don't have a kid working in his dad's basement workshop bidding on a supercarrier.
If it was a violation of the constitution I'm sure that some disgruntled wannabee would have proven it by now.

The actual wording is: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." It is not "unreasonable" for the government to say "if you want us to pay you money you have to let us look over your place of business". Nobody is being "forced" in that circumstance--all that you have to do to avoid the search is say "sorry, government, I don't want your money".

Well, now, if it's not "legal to tax many and to give to a selected few" then I guess that we have to quit paying all government employees.

So let's see, according to you it's a violation of the Constitution for the government to compare two or more products under field conditions prior to purchase? And to pay the producer of the better product? Gee, a lot of aircraft manufacturers would love it if that was the case.
Regardless, the Congress has a specific power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts", under which heading this particular competition would appear to fall. There's also another power "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia"--considering that DARPA is concerned with advance research projects with potential military application, such a competition would appear to fall within the compass of _that_ power as well. The Congress also has the power "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers".

It doesn't say "buy computers" in the Constitution either, so I guess it's unlawful for the GAO to use them to track the government's finances. Sorry, but the Constitution is simply not that narrow.

It's _your_ contention that such an action violates the Constitution--it's up to you to prove it. Do you have relevant case law?

Since you've listened to so many, why not provide some rulings that support your contentions?
--
--John
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