Posts tagged ‘Transparency’

Shit My President Says

Kind of like “Shit my Dad says,” but with unfortunate consequences for millions of people, not just the rubes who voted for the Moral Preener in Chief.

#ShitMyPresidentSays

Scandal? What Scandal?

“Don’t worry, I’ll pull out.”

“I’ll still love you in the morning.”

“This is the moment the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

“You can keep your plan.” (IYLYPYCKYP)

“It’s the law of the land.”

“We won.”

“Stop fanning the flames of division.”

“Let me be perfectly clear.”

52 Percent of People Don’t Trust Obama Anymore

“You will not see your taxes increase one single dime. Not one single dime.”

“My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe.”

“You can take that to the bank.”

I will close Guntanamo.

“The buck stops with me.”

“Let me be absolutely clear.”

“No more secrecy.”

“I’ll make our government more open and transparent.”

“I will promise you this.”

“I hear you loud and clear.”

No to warrantless wiretaps. No corporate welfare, no more secrecy.

“I am less interested in passing out blame.”

Fast and Furious, IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare, Solyndra, GM and Chrysler, revolving door, Pigford, Sibelius shakedown, no lobbyists in administration, transparency, etc., ad nauseum.

Obama is at Two Dozen Scandals and Counting

“We’ve been a little bit lazy the last couple of years.”

A Noble Lie? Why ObamaCare is worse than just a case of pathological altruism.

“ocean-commanding commander-in-chief”

Liar in Chief

“Marriage is the union between a man and a woman.”

Every president faces the challenge of explaining complex policies in simple terms. But the quest for simplicity is no excuse for dishonesty.

Obama’s own advisers told the Journal that they knew those 16 words were untrue, but Obama kept on saying them — over and over and over again.

If that’s the case, then Obama didn’t misspeak.

He lied.

A dishonest presidency

“Let me be absolutely clear.”

“I want to go through the federal budget, line by line.”

“I’m pledging to cut the deficit by half by the end of my first term in office.”

“I’ll end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all.”

“No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens.”

“No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”

“We’re not going to use signing statements to do an end run around Congress.”

“What can we do without Congress.”

Pretty sad when a politician can make George W. Bush look like a miser, Bill Clinton look like a paragon of virtue, Jimmy Carter look decisive, and Dan Quayle look like a brilliant genius.

“We can restore fiscal responsibility in Washington.”

Alas, the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing, which is why we must all thank the Germans for giving us the term “schadenfreude” — the joy one feels at the misfortune or failure of others. The primary wellspring of schadenfreude can be attributed to Barack Obama’s hubris — another immigrant word, which means a sinful pride or arrogance that causes someone to believe he has a godlike immunity to the rules of life.

The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”

Obamacare Schadenfreudarama

Hubris, thy name is Barack Obama.

He knows everything. And yet he seems to know nothing. He’s passionate about the details of domestic policy but wasn’t privy to the details of his own legacy law. He’s an academic with a command of every issue at once but seemingly only finds out what his administration is doing in news reports. He’s so brilliant every normal endeavor he’s tried has bored him, but he couldn’t bother to entertain himself with more than one monthly meeting on the make-or-break program of his presidency. He’s the captain of the Culture of Competency who has overseen the most incompetent rollout of an entitlement program in history.
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He knows everything. And yet he knows nothing. . . . The animating feature of Obama’s leadership style is simply making pronouncements. Making them about things he knows, things he knows not, and waiting for everyone and everything to fall in line. And, when things don’t magically come together, he pronounces his disappointment and anger. Wash, rinse, repeat.

“We’re going to get this done, all right?”

Sure. If you say so.

The ignorant omniscience of President Obama

Bill Clinton: “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen.”

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Secret Courts and the Star Chamber

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“Government Transparency” – Oxymoron

Before I worked on Capitol Hill, I was a reporter and broke a story about how Bush administration officials had silenced federal scientists who had tried to speak up about climate change after Hurricane Katrina. I based the article on documents and email messages I had uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act. Even though the Department of Commerce handed over the emails, I was disappointed to discover that portions of them had been illegally redacted to hide the involvement of specific political appointees.
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After seeing years of heavy-handed secrecy and incessant White House claims of national security to hide the ball from Congress, I supported President Obama’s efforts to clean things up and restore some balance. But like most reporters, I am suspicious of these types of promises, especially from politicians. Regardless of who occupies the White House, I understand that power wants power. Scrutiny just gets in the way.

President Obama is no different. Whether it’s responding to Congress, media questions, or FOIA requests, this administration is no better than its predecessor. The big difference: Obama is a Democrat. And because he is a Democrat, he’s gotten a pass from many of the civil liberty and good-government groups who spent years watching President Bush’s every move like a hawk.

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Transparency – It doesn’t mean what you think it means

While the Obama administration invested big money in redesigning old government websites and launching flashy new ones such as recovery.gov and federalregister.gov, it continued to behave like its predecessor on transparency issues of consequence. In the first year of Obama’s presidency, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury were sued by Bloomberg News, Fox News, and The New York Times for withholding documents related to the Wall Street bailout. The CIA and the National Security Agency were sued by the Electronic Freedom Foundation for refusing to release documents detailing internal lawbreaking. Agencies across the executive branch recorded 466,872 FOIA denials, an increase of 66 percent over Bush’s last year in office.
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And what about FOIA policy, the battles for which are fought largely in the trenches of agencies, and not the White House? Even on that front, the Obama administration has chosen opacity over transparency time and time again.
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Under Obama, transparency groups have received unprecedented rhetorical support from the White House. As a result, they are understandably reluctant to open fire on the president and have him abandon their cause altogether. As the Project on Government Oversight’s Danielle Brian wrote on her organization’s blog just after Obama’s transparency award, “If we take for granted a sitting President who has used his bully pulpit to emphasize the need to change the way we think about access to government information, our cause is likely to be forgotten among the many other presidential priorities. And some progress has undeniably been made in the past two years.”

Other organizations are less cagey. On June 14, 2011, a group led by anti-war activist David Swanson published an open letter in the London Guardian calling for the award to be rescinded. “If the ceremony had been open to the press,” the letter said, “it is likely that reporters would have questioned the organisations’ proffered justification for the award, in contrast to the current reality.” Signatories included former American intelligence analysts, former high-ranking DOJ officials, and retired military officers as well as dozens of watchdog groups and international nongovernmental organizations.

Citing data provided by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration that tracks the cost and scope of classification, Swanson et al. reported that “the cost of classification for 2010 has reached over $10.17 billion. That’s a 15 percent jump from the previous year, and the first time ever that secrecy costs have surpassed $10 billion. Last month, ISOO reported that the number of original classification decisions generated by the Obama administration in 2010 was 224,734—a 22.6 percent jump from the previous year.”

In 2011 the reported cost of classifying government information jumped again, to $11.36 billion, though the true cost is higher, since the ISOO’s figures do not include spending by the CIA and the NSA. These cost hikes suggest that Obama reneged on yet another of his transparency promises, made on December 29, 2009. Executive Order 13526 held that “information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security.”
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After the event, I caught Drake in the hall­-way to ask him about Obama’s failure to uphold his transparency promises. “Obama’s been co-opted by the national security community,” Drake said. “People hoped he would take them on, but he became enamored by all the secret stuff. He’s getting all these cool briefings. It goes to his head. I can send drones anywhere! It’s very powerful stuff. It becomes pathological.”

Obama: Transparently Disappointing. The president has fallen far short of promises to establish “an unprecedented level of openness in government.”

Rubes.

Few things are more characteristic of business as usual in Washington, D.C., than closed doors. Nothing will do more to end business as usual than opening them to C-SPAN cameras.

With the “fiscal cliff” of sequestration approaching, now is the perfect time to establish a precedent: The bigger the deal, the more important it is that negotiations be done in public.

It took about 12 seconds after the 2012 campaign winners were declared for the maneuvering toward a “grand bargain” to begin among President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner.

Everybody professes to favor compromise, but without open negotiations there is no way to know who actually offers concrete compromises and who merely talks about them.

The essential antidote is to let C-SPAN’s cameras cover the negotiations gavel to gavel, with open news conferences after every bargaining session.

The only reasonable alternative to the cameras would be making public a complete transcript of every word said during the talks, with no opportunities for participants to “revise and extend” their remarks.
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But negotiations among elected officials seeking agreements on federal tax and spending policies are at the heart of the public interest. They ought to be the last place we would ever accept secret deals.

Want to force a compromise? Negotiate in public

C-SPAN

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