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February 28, 2009

This Is Transparency and Accountability?

Mona Charen notes "Obama's strange habit of denying what he's doing":

Have you noticed his troubling habit of denying what he is doing? For example, in his speech to Congress he said he asked for the stimulus bill "not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't." And in recommending a bailout of mortgage holders, he denied that any relief would go to "speculators" or those who "bought more house than they could afford" but that is exactly what the package will do.

Obama's doublespeak is hardly limited to appeals for unity and denunciations of divisiveness and partisanship intended to camouflage backhanded attacks on Republicans. After all, only the rankest of politicos would expect a leader's actions to measure up to his rhetoric. Thus, we get earnest assurances of the need to reduce the deficit from a party that will deliver crushing deficits even under the best case scenario:

Obama's target would place the deficit at about 3 percent of gross domestic product. The GDP is a measure of a country's economic activity and many economists say deficits during a stable economy should amount to no more than 2 to 2.5 percent. At $1.5 trillion, the deficit would hit a whopping 10.6 percent of GDP this year.

And what of Obama's calls for fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency? Even Democrats are alarmed at a provision in the stimulus bill that would seriously compromise the government's ability to oversee dispersals of our tax dollars:

"These ideas were coming directly from the Obama people," said one Democratic congressional aide, who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Obama administration declined to comment on its role in drafting the provision.

The inspector general community and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee raised concerns about the House bill. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the chief sponsor of a bill last year meant to enhance inspector general independence, said she was particularly alarmed about the sentence allowing the panel to order an inspector general to stop an investigation.

The group representing federal inspectors general recommended that the entire disputed provision be deleted from the legislation, according to David R. Gray, counsel to Phyllis K. Fong, chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.

Senate negotiators changed the board composition. While the president would appoint the head of the panel, the rest of the members would be inspectors general.

House and Senate negotiators also added a line proposed by McCaskill saying that the final decision on whether to proceed is up to the inspector general. "The language sends a very clear message that the IG is in the driver's seat," she said.

Supporters of the inspector general system say they find the episode troubling for an administration that has trumpeted aggressive oversight. "This is a dangerous provision that will hamper oversight, restrict transparency, and damage the independence of inspectors general," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said.

Likewise the White House website appears once again to be missing documents. So much for transparency:

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) - the treaties detailing the ongoing drawdown in Iraq - have been disappeared from the White House web page. (Curously, President Obama's Iraq plan still says "Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.") The treaties are also not mentioned in current media coverage of President Obama's planned Iraq drawdown.

Posted by Cassandra at February 28, 2009 11:48 AM

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I'm beginning to suspect that being able to say, "I told you so" to friends who voted for Obama is not going to sufficiently compensate me for the misery he's going to visit on us.

Posted by: Elise at February 28, 2009 01:26 PM

If anybody really, *really* wants a copy of the SOFA and SFA, I've got 'em. The Usual Suspects have my e-addy.

SOFA and SFA are not classified, and they're not exactly page-turners, but there's interesting stuff in there...

Posted by: BillT at February 28, 2009 02:08 PM

I agree with you Elise. But after eight years of listening to the incessant, shrill attacks, distortions and outright lies told about conservatives and the Shrub by the left, I will take every opportunity to say I told you so.

A small hint of silver around the current cloud would be that there are only 611 days, and a wake up, before mid-term elections.

Posted by: bt_Have-Barter-Will-Travel_hun at February 28, 2009 02:10 PM

Oh, I intend to say it, bt. It's just that I have this horrible feeling that - even as opposed to Obama as I was - I underestimated the extent of the damage. I expected things to go very, very bad internationally (still a possibility) but domestically I expected more of a drift than a stampede toward economic folly and I actually expected (silly, silly me) that Obama's promises of transparency and accountability would be kept.

As for the mid-term elections, it's nice to dream but I have a sinking feeling the same people who supported Obama in 2008 are going to support him and therefore the Democrats in 2010. I'm beginning to fear that I am simply obsolete and a return to the type of government I'd like to see is a pipe dream. Sadly, this will also remove the opportunity to say, "I told you so" because the people who voted for Obama will never think that anything has gone wrong.

Boy, I'm depressing today. I must be suffering from a chocolate deficit.

Posted by: Elise at February 28, 2009 04:42 PM

For some, the learning experience comes only after providing themselves as the mass for the rapid deceleration of the cosmic 2x4.

And we know that we may have to suffer a good deal more before the dithering set within the electorate returns to a more conservative position, i.e. their senses.

I mean it's not as if BO and this Congress are taking bold new steps towards B.F.Skinner's utopian dream. I seem to remember a mythic land called the USSR where all of this statism was taken to its logical conclusion once before. And in living color to boot.

And the EU... I wonder how their economy, the quality/availability of their health care, the equality of their membership's participation in decision making, their employment, job creation, taxes, etc., etc., etc. are working out? Particularly when you factor in that they have had minimal responsibility for their own defense as in being the beneficiaries of huge budget and personnel allocation breaks since -what, WWII?

And if I were a skeptic, I might question the ability of the average Joe or Josephine E.U.-Schmo to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and achieve success in the Borg collective... er Socialists Utopia. Any socialist utopia.

And what about their Constitutional and BoR protections? Those protections the destruction of which was much ballyhooed here. Ironically by those intent on taking us into a new age of failed socialist experiments. But to point that out would probably be considered rude. So I won't.

Yep, by 2010, I would not be surprised if BO and the current Congressional weasels were darned near indistinguishable from Hugo Chavez and his merry band of thugs. And having said that, I'll keep my darker thoughts to myself.

Again I must apologize for the rant. It slipped.

Posted by: bt_Have-Barter-Will-Travel_hun at February 28, 2009 05:48 PM

Well, maybe Barack Obama has an evil twin?

The good Barack says things like "I don't believe in big government" and "We are going to cut the deficit". And means it.
The bad Barack is the one that helped get Rod Blagojevich elected, is promoting a crushing deficit budget this year, and definetly wants a bigger government. Maybe we need one of those transporter doo-dads from Star Trek to put them back together again, huh?

Or maybe he is schizophrenic?

Or maybe we are all just screwed, blued and tattooed?

And as predicted, the majority of those in the "Media" are doing their Orwellian best to cover for Barack and his twin. And even more inspiring was the 30 seconds I caught on "Countdown!" with Olberdoof criticizing Joe (the Plumber) Wurtzlebacher. A private citizen pilloried on a cable network. Citizens, we can all be denounced for our 15 minutes of fame in the new America.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 28, 2009 06:04 PM

Well, maybe Barack Obama has an evil twin?

I had to laugh at this. My theory about why Obama never released his actual, full birth certificate was that he was really triplets.

And, bt, I always enjoy a good rant. It is amazing, isn't it, how little deep or original thinking Obama seems to have done. I cannot think of one idea, plan, or concept of his that I don't remember from my college bull sessions many, many moons ago.

Posted by: Elise at February 28, 2009 06:13 PM

There is a brief moment in every debate where the perfidities of your opponent should be left to speak for themselves.

And so here we are. And so I refrain.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 28, 2009 08:21 PM

If I made you laugh, then my mission today at Villainous Company was successful.

Mission Accomplished!

Tomorrow:Does March come in like a lion, or like a lamb?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 28, 2009 11:39 PM

Ummm...yeah; transparent as mud.

Posted by: camojack at March 1, 2009 01:25 AM

Tomorrow:Does March come in like a lion, or like a lamb?

Around here - Essex County, NJ - like a lion. They keep changing their minds about exactly how *much* snow we're getting between 9pm tonight and noon tomorrow but right now they're saying 9 to 15 inches.


Posted by: Elise at March 1, 2009 12:35 PM

He-ah in Nawth Jawja it is not exactly a lamb, but nary a lion either. More like a mewing puty-tat;
33°F, 2 mph winds out of the nawth west, snizzling turning to big, fluffy, flakes of snow that melt upon contact.

We'll probably get our annual ice storm within the next two to three weeks.

Posted by: bt_weather-on-the-8s_hun at March 1, 2009 01:12 PM

Damn, we're only going to get to 80 today.......


Posted by: DL Sly at March 1, 2009 02:37 PM

About 18C, winds 15 gusting to 25, rain falling through the shamal resulting in mud showers.


We just washed the beige van yesterday and now it's beige again...

Posted by: BillT at March 1, 2009 03:18 PM

But Beeell, Pwesident Owbama sez you is all a-comin' home soon, and Gwowndhog Day in Iwak will be ovah!

Here in the Ohio country, it's in the mid-20's (F, not C), windy, with a bright blue sky. No snow in our forecast. Just cold.

Looks like a lion to me, sportsfans.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 1, 2009 03:32 PM

While receiving a dose of criticism from progressives for his Iraq policy, the new president should nonetheless get some kudos for his unilateral troop withdrawal from another devastated, corrupt, seemingly ungovernable region that occurred this morning, albeit with little fanfare.

Yes, like Iraq, President Obama had the resolve not to abandon New Orleans, or worse yet, go with the original Biden plan of partitioning the city into autonomous enclaves run by Crips, Fortunetellers, Latin Kings, Vampires, Bloods, Goths, and cajuns. Had the new President simply acquiesced to political pragmatism, the Big Easy almost certainly would not have healed to once again shine as the gem of the deep south. . .

Posted by: Bob W (the new Kowalsky) at March 1, 2009 04:13 PM

Pwesident Owbama sez you is all a-comin' home soon, and Gwowndhog Day in Iwak will be ovah!


The SOFA (Article 24, para 2) says US *troops* will be withdrawn NLT 31 December 20011. I'm a *contractor* -- I don't carry a US weapon.

And the Iraqis *want* me here -- at least until I get my Iraqi replacements fully-trained, which will take a couple of more years, at least. They need a *lot* of helicopter pilots...

Posted by: BillT at March 1, 2009 04:45 PM

Alright, now we're seeing CHANGE in action... just don't ask about the details, because you may wake up and realize that some change is all you have left.

Posted by: Comrade Tovya at March 2, 2009 09:24 AM