Americans hate lobbyists’ power over politicians — Obama’s response? More power for lobbyists

President Barack Obama is loosening restrictions on lobbyists who want to serve on federal advisory boards…

Obama came to office pledging to curtail the sway of lobbyists and banned lobbyists from serving on such panels, which guide government policy on a range of topics ranging from cancer to towing safety.

The president said he was doing so because the voices of paid representatives of interest groups were drowning out the views of ordinary citizens.

But many lobbyists felt they were being unfairly tarred by Obama’s campaign to keep them out of public service. A lawsuit challenging the ban was initially dismissed, but a District of Columbia Circuit Court in January reinstated it.

A spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration was revising its earlier guidance on lobbyists serving on federal advisory panels to clarify that lobbyists may now serve on such panels when they are representing the views of a particular group…

The head of a lobbying industry trade group called the change a positive step that will allow the government to draw on the expertise of people whose experience can be beneficial in making policy.

“We’re basically going back to allowing federally registered lobbyists to participate in these committees,” said Monte Ward, the president of the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

Every creep, every former member of Congress who’s waiting in line to pickup their payoff for services rendered is smiling in their K Street digs.

Over 1,000 “federal advisory committees” are registered as lobbyists in Washington, DC, right now. What percentage do you think represent people like you and me?

Richard Kinder pays himself $1 a year — poor guy only made $1 billion this week


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Kinder Morgan (KMI), which operates some 80,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines through a network of separate entities strung together by its billionaire chairman and chief executive, Richard Kinder, is consolidating under one corporate roof. In a deal valued at $71 billion, the parent company will fully acquire three companies it already has partial stakes in: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Kinder Morgan Management, and El Paso Pipeline Partners. Think of it as fusing a disparate collection of pieces into one, functioning whole—kind of like building a pipeline.

The deal simplifies a complicated corporate structure that carried big tax benefits for its partners while also resulting in higher borrowing costs. The new corporation should generate more cash for investors and for buyouts. And it will also make Kinder Morgan the fourth largest-energy company in the U.S…

Richard Kinder co-founded Kinder Morgan in the late 1990s after losing out to Ken Lay [Phew – bet he doesn’t miss that call] to be chief executive of Enron, and Kinder proceeded to cobble together a bunch of cast-off assets from Enron. In doing so, he pioneered the master limited partnership (MLP), a corporate tax structure that has come to dominate the pipeline industry.

The basic premise of an MLP is that instead of organizing as a corporation, pipeline companies were a collection of limited partnerships. Like corporations, MLPs still have thousands of investors and trade publicly. But under the law, stakes in MLPs trade as units, not shares—and that technically makes their investors partners, not shareholders. The IRS counts each stake in the profit as income, allowing the company to sidestep the 35 percent federal corporate tax.

Which further points out how real capitalists ain’t whining about how the IRS is run.

…Richard Kinder, who takes a $1-a-year salary and earns no annual bonus from any of the four companies, will increase his annual pay from dividends by more than $100 million, according to Bloomberg. His ownership take from all the companies earned him $380 million in dividend payments in 2013.

Bloomberg’s analysis doesn’t include which members of the Senate and the House of Representatives Kinder owns outright. It will take the Progressive bloggers and journalists to sort that out.

Thanks, Mike

You haven’t the freedom to know who is spying on you for the NSA

The U.S. doesn’t have to disclose the telecommunications companies helping it collect phone call records or turn over a secret surveillance court’s orders, a federal judge ruled, saying the information would reveal methods used in terrorism investigations.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties advocacy group, sued under the Freedom of Information Act for access to information on the government phone record collection program. The group argued the government confirmed the participation of telecommunications companies in the National Security Agency’s surveillance program after the existence of the program was leaked.

NSA surveillance programs, disclosed by former security contractor Edward Snowden, are being challenged in a number of lawsuits. EFF’s lawsuit, which preceded the Snowden leaks, was filed on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act, passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The collection of information relevant to a federal investigation, when authorized by a secret court, is allowed under a statute in the act. The EFF freedom of information lawsuit sought secret court orders from 2005, 2006 and 2008 to learn more about what the government was collecting and the legal justification for it…

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, today said declassification of general information about the call-record collection program didn’t justify forcing the government to reveal the companies’ names to EFF. Disclosing orders of the Washington-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court could provide a road map for targets to evade surveillance, she said in her ruling…

The judge accepts every lie, every blanket rationale our government uses to defend spying on all of us. That doesn’t take courage. That takes obedience. That takes complicity.

Telecommunication companies were granted immunity by Congress in 2008 from privacy lawsuits over surveillance programs.

Understand the arrogant creeps who demanded this law be passed. Inhale the bipartisan stink of spineless Democrats and paranoid Republicans who passed this law.

The whole so-called Patriot Act is structured to conceal collaborators in the loss of our constitutional freedoms. We not haven’t the right to know who is complicit – there can be no whistleblowers. If your personal banker tells you the Feds have snooped through your bank account, he is breaking the law. If some cop who went to high school with you tells you over a beer the Feds want to know who plays baseball with your kids, he is breaking the law. Cripes, I imagine your dentist can be asked to put a gps tracker in your new crown – and he would be breaking the law if he refused.

Obama’s vision of constitutional freedoms are as distorted by fear and arrogance as Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Tiny differences of degree and interpretation are meaningless compared to what we have lost.

Arrested after beating police in doughnut-eating contest — but, no, that’s not why!

A North Carolina man who beat police officers in a doughnut-eating contest got his just desserts the next day after they realized that he was a wanted man.

Bradley Herbert entered the cuisine-eating competition at the Elizabeth City Police Department’s National Night Out Against Crime and won it by polishing off eight doughnuts in two minutes.

The field that the 24-year-old defeated included local police officers and firefighters…

The day after the contest, officials realized that Herbert was wanted in connection with two break-ins that happened at local grocery stores thanks to story about the suspect’s eating prowess.

“When I came in that morning and read that article I was pissed because it’s like throwing it in our face,” Lt. Max Robeson said. “We’ve been looking for you for months. I didn’t ask him if he won a trophy — he probably did.”

Herbert was charged with two counts of felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor injury to real property.

More balls than brains!