How’s that transparency thing working out for you?

The Obama administration conducted a workshop on government openness for federal employees behind closed doors Monday, a private training session for freedom-of-information officials to learn about a new U.S. office that settle disputes between the bureaucracy and the public.

The decision to preclude the public and the media from attending Monday’s workshop left open government advocates scratching their heads, given President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. A reporter for The Associated Press was turned away from the door Monday. Link

“The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails,” Obama told government offices on his first full day as president.

Unless of course it doesn’t.

Another one bites the dust

Remember those reports of a 400% increase in the number of threats against President Obama?

Guess what? It was bogus. In a congressional hearing last week, Mark Sullivan, Secret Service Director told a much different version …

“The threats right now … is the same level as it has been for the previous two presidents at this point in their administrations,” Sullivan said.

Rats. Another perfectly good meme debunked.

The Daily Snort

Remember Joe Biden’s campaign statement which implied paying higher taxes was patriotic?

“It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

Just when Timothy Geithner was about to fade from the daily news cycle, along comes HHS nominee, Tom Daschle to remind everyone of yet another Obama nominee with serious tax issues.

If paying higher taxes is the new definition of patriotism, then what does the willful refusal to pay personal taxes by both of these Cabinet appointees tell us about President Obama’s commitment to transparency and ethics in government?

After granting special ethics waivers for Bill Lynn as Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Bill Corr as Deputy Secretary at HHS, the Obama Administration is poised to push for another tainted Cainet level appointment with Daschle. No word yet if another ethics waiver will be required for Daschle (he a lobbyist at Alston & Bird), or for his lobbyist wife, Linda. One thing is clear, if the Daschle nomination stands, the top two posts at HHS will be filled by men whose past dealings with money and power go against everything that Barack Obama promised in his historic campaign.

I reckon that bust on Mt. Rushmore will have to wait at least another week. Snort.

Update: from Glenn Greenwald, writing at Salon ……

Back in June, 2008, when Barack Obama violated his clear commitment to filibuster any bill containing telecom immunity by doing the opposite: voting for cloture on such a bill and then voting of the bill itself, it was — as Matt Stoller noted at the time — Tom Daschle who defended Obama’s behavior in The Washington Post, by invoking the two leading all-purpose, Obama-justifying clichés: “Those who accomplish the most are those who don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. Barack is a pragmatist.”

What Daschle (and The Washington Post) didn’t note, but Stoller did, is this:

The kicker of course, is that [Daschle’s firm] Alston and Bird did work lobbying on immunity for telecoms on FISA [they were AT&T’s FISA lobbyist – .pdf], even serving as a recruitment bed for the McCain campaign. And that’s what is really going on. Bribery.


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