White House eases “lobbyist ban” that never really stopped the revolving door

When it comes to President Obama and special interests, hypocrisy is what automatically comes to mind. The candidate who once promised the country he would fight special interests in Washington hasn’t kept his word as president, and is now once again showing no signs of change.

After lobbyists appealed a federal court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the administration over banning registered lobbyists from serving on federal advisory boards, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget has released a new guidance making it possible for registered lobbyists to serve on advisory boards again while representing a client.

In spite of the so-called ban, which was placed in 2010, former lobbyists were never banned from serving. In many cases former lobbyists served on advisory boards without the need of receiving special waivers, which is the loophole they often explored to go around the 2010 ban.

Candidate Obama’s ethics plan indicated where he once stood on special interests, at least on paper.

“No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.”

Rand Paul and Aid to Israel – He Was Right the First Time

Just a week ago, PolitiFact.com’s Truth-O-Meter gave Sen. Rand Paul a “pants on fire” rating for the following statement:

I haven’t really proposed that in the past. We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that. You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question. That has not been a position — a legislative position — we have introduced to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid. That’s the answer to that question. Israel has always been a strong ally of ours and I appreciate that. I voted just this week to give money — more money — to the Iron Dome, so don’t mischaracterize my position on Israel.

Is this “pants on fire” rating fair? PolitiFact goes into quite a bit of detail and it does seem that Sen. Paul’s statements are demonstrably false and the only person mischaracterizing his statements is Rand Paul himself.

When Sen. Paul was promoting his 2011 budget, he repeated on several occasions that his budget would eliminate foreign aid to all countries, including Israel. There was even a section of the budget which addressed Israel directly:

Net Neutrality: FCC Theory Would Extend Beyond ISPs Under Title II

This is the first in a series of net neutrality posts that will address fundamental questions presented by the prospect of applying per se net neutrality rules under Title II.

There is more at stake than net neutrality in the reclassification debate at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Imposing per se prohibitions against business-to-business arrangements involving ‘paid prioritization’ under Title II would be a radical departure from the core principles embodied in our communications laws. Yet the nature of this departure and its predictable consequences have received little attention thus far. That must change.

By its own logic, the theory of ‘gatekeeper control’ the FCC relied on to justify its imposition of per se net neutrality rules extends to any Internet intermediary that is capable of blocking, degrading, or favoring particular Internet services, applications, or content. If the FCC were to apply this theory under Title II, it would be required to impose net neutrality obligations on a host of Internet companies that have not been subject to common carrier regulation, including Google, Apple, and Netflix.

Summary of Regulatory Theories Governing Communications

A brief review of the prevailing theories of communications regulation in different eras is helpful in understanding why many companies that are considered ‘edge’ providers today would inevitably be subject to common carrier regulation if the FCC imposes per se net neutrality regulations under Title II. These theories are either embodied in the Communications Act or, with respect to net neutrality, in an FCC order.

Regulatory Summary

Oh, look, Mary Landrieu used a taxpayer-funded jet to attend a campaign fundraiser

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has been caught with her hand in the taxpayers’ cookie jar. CNN reports that Landrieu’s Senate office was billed $3,200 for a November charter flight from New Orleans to Lake Charles so she could attend a campaign fundraiser:

Landrieu spent more than $3,200 in taxpayer money to fly 400 miles round trip from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per person fundraising lunch with hundreds of women, according to Senate records and Landrieu campaign information. It is illegal to spend government money campaigning.

Landrieu’s campaign spokesman, Fabien Levy, said in a statement that the charter company mistakenly billed Landrieu’s Senate office instead of her re-election campaign. Levy said the campaign noticed the error a few weeks ago and asked the company to refund the Senate office and bill the campaign, which the company did. Levy said Landrieu’s re-election campaign paid for the flight August 4, almost nine months after the November 8 trip.

Using taxpayer funds for campaign purposes is, of course, illegal. Landrieu’s office says that they noticed the error — at the end of July, some nine months after the trip. Conveniently, her office caught the indiscretion just before USA Today published a story on the $1 million worth of charter flights senators took last year. Landrieu was one of the top abusers, taking $47,000 worth of taxpayer-funded charter flights.

Although Landrieu’s office has dealt with the problem, some believe that she should still be held accountable for the “oversight”:

Global warming alarmist Al Gore doesn’t actually care about coal investors’ losses

Al Gore has made a pretty healthy living by fear-mongering about global warming. He’s written books and starred in a “documentary” about the subject and he’s invested heavily in green technology, an industry that is subsidized by the federal government (read: taxpayers). The former vice president has also won a Nobel Prize for his activism.

Gore took a different angle to his fear-mongering last week. Rather than play up the Hollywood-style apocalyptic effects of global warming, he candidly explained to coal investors that want may want to divest because they stand to lose money in the long-run:

In a Financial Times column Gore argues that it would be smart to divest from coal “for purely financial reasons,” setting aside the harmful impact he says it has on the environment.

Nancy Pelosi won’t be Speaker next year: Republicans are poised to keep control of the House, and probably pick up seats

Nancy Pelosi

Forget the annoying fundraising emails from House Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the talk from left-leaning pundits about the House being in play this fall. It just ain’t going to happen, folks. Because math, as USA Today notes:

In 2012, congressional district lines were redrawn, as is constitutionally required every 10 years, based on population shifts. Republicans had the upper hand in many states after the GOP won control of governorships and state legislatures following the 2010 Tea Party wave. The end result has been a precipitous drop in the number of competitive seats and a rise in the number of seats considered so safely Republican or Democratic that they are unlikely to ever switch party control.

Today, roughly 50 districts in the 435-member House make up the entirety of the 2014 battleground.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report ranks just 16 of those districts, 13 held by Democrats and three by Republicans, as competitive enough that neither party has a clear advantage with fewer than 100 days to go before Election Day.

The current House makeup includes 234 Republicans and 199 Democrats, and there are two vacant seats that are safely Democratic. That means Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats for a takeover. They’d have to pick up 17 Republican seats and lose none of their own, or make even greater gains in GOP territory to make up for any losses.

Basically, Democrats have virtually no shot of taking control of the House this year. The numbers just aren’t there. Obviously, there are some other factors in the mid-term equation as well.

Meet Arturo Alas: A free market-minded, Constitution-loving Republican taking on a big government House Democrat in California

During Arturo Alas’ congressional campaign HQ grand opening in Covina, California, I had the opportunity to chat with the Republican candidate running against Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) to represent California’s 32nd congressional district. After a surprising top-two primary win, Art Alas hopes to win in November with his free market and constitution-loving message.

The incumbent, Grace Napolitano, has been in Congress since 1999, and many in her district appear to disagree with her on several important issues such as the U.S. role in the Syrian civil war. Could the residents of Covina be persuaded to give a Republican a try? The last Republican politician to have represented the district was Craig Hosmer, who left office in 1974.

United Liberty: What motivated you to run for Congress?

Obama Lecture on Playing by the Rules is Utter Hypocrisy

In a recent weekly address, Barack Obama uttered ten words which every conservative in the nation immediately recognized as absolute truth in a constitutional republic which provides for separation of powers among the branches and levels of government. To quote, Obama stated “You don’t get to pick which rules you play by.”

His statement was made regarding the growing trend of “inversion,” whereby U.S. multinational corporations merge with foreign companies and move their headquarters overseas in order to avoid the double taxation that the United States levies on its companies, a burden suffered by the corporations of no other industrialized nation, which therefore puts American businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The irony of those words, coming from THAT man, should be lost on no one with an IQ above room temperature.

Obama, more than any president in American history, has shown complete and utter contempt for any constitutional restrictions on his power, and openly mocks and taunts those that express deep concerns for his brazen disregard for the tradition of compromise (as ugly as the process is to get to that end point) that has guided our government for more than two centuries.

Obama talks about having “a phone and a pen,” a reference to his numerous Executive Orders which often bleed over into powers reserved for the other branches of government. Obama has repeatedly claimed this year that he will act unilaterally when Congress refuses to give him his way, and when Congress protests such abuse of power, he glibly responds, “Sue me!”

Hillary Clinton’s big criticism of Barack Obama is that he didn’t go to war against Syria

Back in June, Cato Institute Vice President Gene Healy shed some light on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record. No, we’re not talking about her cataclysmic failure in Benghazi or any of her other mistakes during her time in Foggy Bottom.

Healy’s warning was that Clinton — throughout the course of her national profile as first lady, U.S. senator, Secretary of State, and, now, Democratic presidential nominee in waiting — has never met a war she didn’t like. She helped present the case for the Iraq war and the ties between Saddam Hussein’s regime and terrorist elements — ties, by the way, that didn’t exist.

More recently, Healy notes, Clinton urged President Obama to intervene in Libya. And, of course, the Obama administration joined the NATO campaign in 2011 to depose the North African country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The intervention in Libya — which is, basically, in the midst of an internal conflict so violent that both the U.N. and the U.S. have evacuated staffers from their embassies — is generally thought to be one of this administration’s foreign policy blunders.

Clinton was also supportive of U.S. intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. President Obama, however, didn’t take that step, largely due to congressional and public opposition to yet another war.

But Clinton is now criticizing President Obama’s approach to foreign policy, an approach she helped craft during in four years as his secretary of state. In an interview with The Atlantic, Clinton criticized the White House for not throwing its full weight behind the Syrian rebels fighting Assad’s regime:

Food Under Assault: Farm-To-Consumers Legal Defense Fund Needs Your Help

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Imagine a scenario where you’re at the office and a few guys from the government randomly show up unannounced one day and say they just want to come in and have a quick look around. No need to be alarmed, they assure you. We just need to check and make sure everything’s in order…And so you, being the honest broker you are, open the door and let them in.

A few hours later, your business and shut down for unspecified, and only possible, violations. They’ll get back to you, they say, about what they think you’ve done wrong. In the meantime, you’re out of business and still trying to make ends meet until the issue is resolved. Sound inconceivable? Pete Kennedy of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) knows it’s not, because it is exactly the kind of thing that happens to small family farmers who are trying to make a living in this age of big government and over-regulation. His organization, in fact, details the stories and how farmers can protect themselves at their website.

“From what I’ve seen, [the FDA] would like to control all food regulation and have everything sterilized,” says the attorney and President of the organization that seeks to protect those farmers by offering legal advice and defending them against government “strong-arming” if necessary. “It comes down to freedom of food choice. Our main mission is to protect farmers and consumers so they can engage in direct commerce.”

 


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