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Just how close are Obama and Google? You won’t believe the answer

Black Helicopters

The only thing missing

These sorts of crony capitalist maneuvers go on all the time in government circles, though other industries try harder to make the decisions look more heinous. For example, the general opposition to net neutrality by Verizon and AT&T certainly masked how much they helped the FCC craft the regulations to hurt their competition. This sort of thing is certainly common in the US and I'm certain that the same is true in the UK and EU.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The only thing missing

"These sorts of crony capitalist maneuvers go on all the time in government circles, though other industries try harder to make the decisions look more heinous. "

Thank you, exactly. The FAA was all-too well known for this kind of behavior, so it is no surprise that the FTC has its hands in the cookie jar. It occurs across all capitalist boundaries, from building codes to aircraft, from South Korea to the U.S.

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Re: The only thing missing

The US is a house of cards that will collapse under the weight of its own hubris.

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Nice click bait headline

"Just how close are Obama and Google? You won’t believe the answer"

Is this The Register or Mashable?

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Nice click bait headline

Of course we are copying Mashable, who wouldn't ...

Or maybe it is our very own ironic take on such matters.

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Alien

Re: Nice click bait headline

It's a conspiracy to desensitize you to click-bait style headlines.

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Trollface

Re: Nice click bait headline

The Magisterable?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice click bait headline

The Elrascible.

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Re: Nice click bait headline

For full clickbait effect it should be:

Just How Close Are Obama And Google? You Won’t Believe The Answer!!

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Holmes

For Sale

I will have you all know that the U S of A has one of the FINEST governments that money can buy.

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Re: For Sale

The Definition of an Honest Politician: One who, once bought, stays bought.

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Devil

" extreme example of ‘regulatory capture"

I take it they've never seen congress in action...

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Anonymous Coward

Government bought and paid for. All this was/is absolutely predictable, as soon as private money and/or lobbying is allowed into politics.

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Anonymous Coward

I keep trying to find a way around this, but I've never managed to come up with one. Perhaps you can enlighten us.

If we take all the private money and lobbying out of politics, then we're just left with public (government) money and lobbying. So, we have all campaigns financed by a government pool. Government doesn't really need to lobby for themselves, so that's gone. So far, so good.

Now, what if I really like politician A and I think (s)he'll do a great job? We're probably ok with me telling all my friends about him, even if I start looking like a mad man extolling his virtues from a soap box on the street corner. So, it's probably ok if I'm just taking advantage of my own faculties.

But if I want to reach even more people, tell them of the second coming, I might want to put an ad in the paper. I'd have to pay some money for it, so maybe that's out. But what if I own the newspaper? It's my newspaper, I own it, and I probably wouldn't be paying any money specifically for that, so is that ok? We've been doing this since before the US was a country, so it seems a little off to say it's wrong now.

Now what if I invoke some modern technology? Can I post my thoughts on Facebook? I certainly don't own Facebook. Facebook doesn't charge me money for the privilege, but they will make money off advertising and telling "sponsors" how much I love this guy. Maybe the government can set up a website where we can all go and discuss which politicians and topics we care most about, but them I'm being limited to discussing it in that forum.

While I certainly don't like the aftermath of Citizen's United, I find it increasingly hard to argue against the logic. Given that everything in a modern society has a monetary value attached--and even the ability to speak to others often costs money--it is increasingly hard to separate speech from money. The other side of this problem is that there aren't any good public forums anymore. The populace in the US is too spread out to be able to meet their representatives or candidates on a regular basis. This feels like a slippery slope where we already started at the top of the hill and happily charged down into the muck; it doesn't make much sense to start back at the top again when we know what the results will be.

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I think the issue is the transparency around what you give and what you get in return. The bought decisions the politician's holidays you pay for etc. It's all bribery, doesn't matter which way you look at it. Nobody gives big donations without the expectation of something in return. That's a bribe.

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"We've been doing this since before the US was a country"

Well we've been murdering each other since the dawn of Mankind, but I do believe that public opinion on that is pretty much Not Good.

The fact that we have been doing something in the past has no bearing on whether or not we should continue doing so. At some point, a decision must be made concerning "cleaning up" the political landscape, and if we just shrug and say "well that's how it's always been", then nothing will ever change.

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Re: "We've been doing this since before the US was a country"

@Pascal: "Well we've been murdering each other since the dawn of Mankind, but I do believe that public opinion on that is pretty much Not Good."

Hmm, I think you need to look for a better example, especially where the US is concerned since they still routinely murder people in the name of law, religion, oil or trade. It was the biggest hypocrisy in Catholicism that woke me up as a child, that the Catechism allowed for killing at the behest of the people running your government while still stating that killing was a mortal sin.

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Re: "We've been doing this since before the US was a country"

" especially where the US is concerned since they still routinely murder people in the name of law, religion, oil or trade."

Hate to burst your bubble but that is definitely *not* true. Our Glorious Leaders do not even pretend to need reasons anymore.

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Yes, sir...

We have the best government money can buy. Looks like the chocolate factory has purchased a big chunk. Just what current candidate they are purchasing now is a question up for grabs. I won't speculate, but I suspect money has been thrown around, they seem to have a bunch of it.

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Re: Yes, sir...

Just what current candidate they are purchasing now is a question up for grabs.

- All of them.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Holmes

Downvotes?

Apparently some folks are unhappy with my snarky crack above. Okay. But doesn't this whole story sound like the mayor's daughter calling daddy and saying "Oh, I got a ticket today!" And daddy says "No problem, honey. I'll call the chief of police, and he'll take care of that for you."

So Google is upset they got caught breaking several laws designed to protect people against monopolies? No problem, call Obama, and make that nasty FTC go away. But WHY would he do that? Philosophical reasons? Maybe he's a total laissez-faire free-market guy that makes Tim Worstall look like a socialist? I doubt it. Then why take the part of a large corporation against the people he's supposed to protect? There's something else going on here, and I doubt it would bear the light of day.

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Re: Downvotes?

There's something else going on here, and I doubt it would bear the light of day.

Problem is that the cockroaches tend to scatter when you turn the light on...

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Re: Downvotes?

This is the Google that loaned Obama thousands of highly qualified tech employees during both of his elections. By loaned, I mean strongly suggested that employes take time off to help with the election, while still getting paid for said time off. So it is safe to say, he owed them a lot.

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Re: Downvotes?

All the way through reading this article, I kept having Human Leagues' "Don't You Want Me Baby" running through my mind. Something about "I put you where you are... And I can put you back down too."

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Re: Downvotes?

It's about the only positive thing I can say about the EU - they have form at having a serious crack at the corrupt US/Global companies that buy their way out of trouble over the pond. Microsoft anyone?

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Re: Downvotes?

Having just finished the latest House of Cards series, I am wondering if Google doesn't have a lot more to offer "their" candidate, like information on what voters are searching for and discussing. Or even tweaking their search and advertising voodoo.

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Not to feed the "thanks Obama" crowd but it was pretty obvious his people knew and included some serious nerds and PM gods when they got that POS healthcare insurance website the government ruined, up and running in just weeks.

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That was after wasting billions on a contract with a friend of his wife. Not even an American company.

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Windows

Surprised?

Every spring, after flocks of geese overwinter in the city park, newspaper articles appear lamenting all the goose shit on the park walkways. Big surprise!

(Mega-corporations make more noise, overstay their welcome, coerce their minders, and leave huge messes on the public sidewalks. That's no surprise, either!)

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Holmes

Just a Coincidence

....and the creation of the 'Obama Foundation' ala the 'Clinton Foundation'.

No impropriety there I ASSure you.

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Malice or Incompetence?

As far as the un-redacted info that led to this revelation are concerned... I think it could go either way. It's either a pissed-off staffer or an incompetent staffer.

On the other hand, government officials and agencies in the back pocket of corporates.... like this is something new?

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Doubt anyone is surprised by this

All those millions Google spends in lobbying and campaign donations aren't for nothing. The interesting question is whether Google's special access continues once a republican administration arrives (whether that's next year or 2021)

Given republican distrust of Silicon Valley values, those in the FTC who pushed for an investigation may find a sympathetic ear, and oil and coal companies would be enjoying a return to the hands off approach of the Bush administration.

This problem is larger than Google, it is that certain companies/industries see very different regulation depending on whether they are in or out of favor with the party in charge of the White House. That's what lawmakers really should fix, but congress is hip deep in lobbyist money and the revolving door so that's not likely to happen.

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Re: Doubt anyone is surprised by this

in or out of favor with the party in charge of the White House.

Don't you mean which head is in charge of the two-headed monster?

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Re: Doubt anyone is surprised by this

"The interesting question is whether Google's special access continues once a republican administration arrives "

In some respects, the British idea of a continuous civil service, whatever the colour of the government seems to be a better idea than all the department heads being fired and replaced every time the government changes which leads to strong politisiation of the government infrastructure.

On the other hand, the British system can lead to the same policies being pushed through by high up civil servants, no matter the colour of the government by being "persuasive" to the Ministers in question. eg Snoopers Charter v1.0 v1.1 v1.2 ad nauseum. (I wonder if the fair weather LibDem supporters who trashed their party at the last election are still so smug now seeing the Tories enact legislation which the LibDems successfully blocked when in coalition? eg that Snoopers Charter)

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Re: Doubt anyone is surprised by this

All those millions Google spends in lobbying and campaign donations aren't for nothing. The interesting question is whether Google's special access continues once a republican administration arrives (whether that's next year or 2021)

Seriously? Republicans love money as much as the next man. Perhaps Google might need to start doing some military work to calm their fears but have no doubt what the end result will be.

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Re: Doubt anyone is surprised by this

Sure republicans love money too but Silicon Valley's social values do not line up with their own so they aren't natural allies like democrats. Google will throw money at republicans and get something for their trouble, but not what they are getting today. Just like oil companies throw money at democrats and get something for their trouble, but they are only truly in the catbird seat during a republican administration.

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Trollface

You see, this is why the United States is such a great country!

Not because there isn't corruption, but because the price of undue influence in the U.S. is so cheap! Most other places in the world, this kind of kow-towing to a major company would involve transfers of briefcases full of money, the building of lavish vacation homes for the political elite, inclusion of pols in profitable upcoming business deals, etc.

Here in the U.S., all you need to do is pull out a business card showing you are an exec from a major corporation, and the keys to the kingdom are just handed to you. That way the money that would have gone into the pols' slush fund is still available to create a few jobs, build the occasional road or hospital, etc.

God bless America!, and where is the Old Glory icon?!

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Re: You see, this is why the United States is such a great country!

I think you'd be surprised out how much money has changed hands - you just haven't seen it yet. I don't think it's any coincidence that the man who repealed Glass-Steagall now pisses dollar bills. His wife seems to have carried on the tradition.

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Re: You see, this is why the United States is such a great country!

A former president will always piss dollar bills if he wants to. Just because Carter isn't raking in hundreds of thousands per speech doesn't mean he couldn't do it if he wanted to. He was a post-Watergate aberration, being elected president despite lacking the ego and greed that's nearly universal in everyone who reaches higher office.

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Anonymous Coward

I continue to regret not buying Google stock when they went public.

Didn't realize they were government-secured bonds....

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like the MAFIAA trying to dig up dirt on Google

Google has been digging up dirt on the MAFIAA recently. This smells like retaliation.

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Paris Hilton

Who's the ethics watchdog?

The article starts by mentioning there is an ethics watchdog, but never gives more details. Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right place.

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Re: Who's the ethics watchdog?

Try here: http://nlpc.org/stories/2016/03/23/ftc-chair-ramirez-asked-about-contradictions-senate-testimony-google-antitrust-pr

The link is "hidden in plain sight" in the middle of the article.

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Pint

This has been going on at least since the end of WWII. Everybody had warnings from Presidents about the issue. No need to yell at the skies.

Too much attention to the Actors, and so little to the Scripts. Cheers!

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What does Google have on the president?

What sordid secrets is Google hanging onto to get get so much influence? Barack is an unrepentant Apple Fanboi, and Google really didn't help all that much to get him elected (Facebook and their cattle did so much more), so I can see no reason for him to have such a throbbing hard-on for Sergey and Larry.

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Terminator

Re: What does Google have on the president?

It's Google. They have all the information.

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What's new?

There is something new in all this. Those who govern have always been susceptible to bribery, graft, and corruption. What is new is the scope and intensity of the activity. In the US those who govern have, since at least the Clinton Administration, used executive powers purchased by special interests from the legislative branch to undermine both the public interest and the judicial branch. The power of those who run the executive branch has become essentially absolute and unbounded. They use that power, uncompromisingly, on behalf of the special interests that perpetuate their power. The US Code (as others have observed, bought and paid for) protects those who govern from actions that in any thinking society would be considered criminal and unethical.

Recently I had another in a long string of WTF? moments. When I upgraded to Windows 10, I was astonished find what I thought surely had to be clear violations of the earlier anti-trust settlement agreement. I took the time to dig it out and read it. Would to God I could get a deal like that,

"Now see here, Mr. Hargrove. We can't have you [readers can pick their preferred criminal act.] Under the terms of this settlement you agree to stop doing it. . .for the next five years, which we, the court, can extend for another two years if we deem that letting you [insert preferred criminal act] is not in the public interest. Now run along, and be a good boy, and we'll keep an eye on you."

Wink, wink; nod, nod, Bob's your uncle.

Specific to our shared interests in IT, This unholy alliance between those who govern and special interests is a significant factor in creating the "internet of things". The result is a global internetworked system riddled with component functions that are completely invisible to 99% of the ordinary users. Some of these perform essential user functions. But I submit that the largest numbers are there purely for the ultimate economic benefit of the vendors. These unwanted functions take resources from the user without their knowledge and permission--itself an illegal act under past interpretations of Common Law. More critically, each and every one of them is a potential vector for cyber attack and failure. Such an infrastructure ultimately cannot be sustained or protected.

On a personal level the situation is even more dire. If you are a manager of a large corporation under the present system you can expect to enjoy an obscene salary and the full protection of those who govern. If, on the other hand, you are a young black mother with a mental problems driving erratically through downtown Washington DC with an infant in the back seat, you can expect those who govern to use their imperial executive powers to bring you to bay and gun you down in the streets.

With absolute impunity. The proof of that this power is absolute? Even Al Sharpton--who, public persona not withstanding is a highly intelligent man--kept his mouth shut.

Never, ever, forget Miriam Carey.

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Market Power

Classifying Internet Service Providers as being governed by Title II actually provides consumers in the United States with a great deal of protection - against, for example, the only broadband provider in their town, since it is also a Cable TV company, blocking access to YouTube, Netflix, and other video streaming services. That's what "net neutrality" is about.

Even if it is true that making net neutrality mandatory prevents the emergence of certain kinds of useful services (why not ad-funded "free internet") the call for net neutrality reflects very real inequalities in market power between a broadband provider and an individual private citizen seeking an Internet connection.

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