Aaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8226 posts, RR: 26 Posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2678 times:
So far, despite a lot of promises made, Team Obama has only partially delivered on promises to deliver extraordinary transparency to the public. One can only wonder at the various reasons for lack of implementation, but a thorough review shows they are achieving mixed results at best (POLITICO used the term "murky"). Still, most would agree they are certainly off to a better start than the previous administration, but that's not saying much.
The President's supporters and opponents - all of us - should keep the pressure on. If there's anything that does need to change in Washington, it's the longstanding tradition of government officials mistrusting the public, even though we pay for ever last thing they are doing. The lack of transparency must come to an end, and if Obama delivers on his rhetoric, we'll all be much the better for it.
An excellent synopsis from today's POLITICO:
Exposing Bush era terror policies: B-
Day to day White House activities: C+
Stimulus money tracking website: B-
Bank bailout money disclosure: D
Freedom of Information Act re-invigoration: B
Public regulation process: B+
Press freedom and access: C+
Despite a slight majority of the grades being B, I'd say the failure to move on disclosing what has happened with bailout money is a tremendous blow to any measure of transparency so I average things out at a C.
If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
If it is any help, Rudd promised a greater degree of transparency in Aus and his Left Hand man Senator Faulkner today (Tues 24 March 2009) introduced his proposals for changes to the FOI legislation, which is close to 16 months after his election. Faulkner has made a reputation as a brilliant interrogator in Senate committees and has never had a skerrick of a suspicion of being a slouch, so it is perhaps the case that changing a system to be more transparent is not a simple matter.
By my guesses, that comment is relevant to about 4 of your categories with C+, B, B+ and C+ rankings.
Rome, building and days come to mind, but useful to have a running check. That falls within the FOI I think
The bank bailout state of information does seem to be appalling but at least it is improved - though marginally at best. I do get the feeling that a few riot acts have been read, and they appear to be thoroughly deserved too. It will be interesting to find what documentation is to be presented with these sales of whatever it is exactly they are going to sell. So far it seems most don't know and even where they do, the nature of the contents seems to be changing day by day.
Democracy should be the freedom to know * John Faulkner * March 25, 2009
Once it was a serious offence to report what parliamentarians said in the chamber. The justification for this 17th-century prohibition was that it allowed MPs to speak their mind and exercise their judgment without fear of the censure of the public. Anxiety about politicians bending with the wind of public opinion is as old as politics itself.
The secrecy of parliamentary proceedings is long gone, but the idea of best protecting responsible government by keeping information as confidential as possible has been very slow to die. The notion that government accountability extends beyond answering to electors on polling day has gradually changed the way Australian governments treat government information. A recognition has come that the best safeguard against ill-informed public judgment is not concealment but information. As Abraham Lincoln said: "Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe."
There is a challenge to change the FoI culture from resistance to disclosure. This is not an easy task. FoI reforms are not universally supported by public servants. It is proper to acknowledge those concerns; they are genuinely held. Some in the public service feel FoI reforms may inhibit their ability to provide frank and fearless advice. But the tradition of frank and fearless advice is more robust than that.
These reforms will change the law and demonstrate the Government's commitment to culture change, a shift from the culture of secrecy we saw under the last government to one of openness and transparency. We do not see these reforms as a concluded process.
I suspect some wish the reforms tipped further towards an informational free-for-all. I know some would prefer a return to the days of silence, censorship and surreptitious "scofflaw" pamphlets. But easy extremes do not serve the public interest. I believe this draft legislation meets the democratic requirements that the Government be open and transparent without contravening the responsibility to keep confidential information out of the public arena.
Senator Faulkner is the Special Minister of State. This is an edited extract of his address to yesterday's Right to Know Freedom of Speech conference in Sydney.
He was, incidentally, speaking at a meeting where a keynote address was by a newspaper executive on the "Right to know", his newspaper having last week published compromising photographs that were supposed to be of the famous Pauline Hanson and proved not to be of her. That is a bit difficult to square with the right to know, as Judge Einfeld was sent to jail the same week for perjury.
Seb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11766 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2627 times:
Quoting Aaron747 (Thread starter): The lack of transparency must come to an end, and if Obama delivers on his rhetoric, we'll all be much the better for it.
He has been president for two months and he has been criticized from the day he won the election. Let's give him some time. The man has a lot on his plate. Unlike when Bush took office. Did he have massive debt to repay and a war and a deep recession and other percieved messes from the previous administraion?
Quoting Aaron747 (Thread starter): I'd say the failure to move on disclosing what has happened with bailout money is a tremendous blow to any measure of transparency
IIRC, there was a lengthy book on the bank bailout (endorsed by Obama) that no one read, so people complain they were fleeced. I would give this administraion more credit for being transparent than politico.com has. Not much, but more. How many secret energy meetings has this administration had with oil executives? How many incursions into soverign nations has this administration had? How many directives have been handed down in regards to surveylance by this administration that are classified?
Flymeariver From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 2602 times:
Quoting Seb146 (Reply 3): The man has a lot on his plate. Unlike when Bush took office. Did he have massive debt to repay and a war and a deep recession and other percieved messes from the previous administraion?
You forgot to mention his NCAA brackets, Tonight Show appearances, and other public appearances all over the country except in Washington.
D L X From United States of America, joined May 1999, 11500 posts, RR: 52
Reply 5, posted (5 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 2574 times:
Quoting Flymeariver (Reply 4): You forgot to mention his NCAA brackets, Tonight Show appearances, and other public appearances all over the country except in Washington.
This is an incredibly petty sentiment.
NCAA bracket: how long did that take him to make? Are you seriously of the mindset that every five minute interval in a day requires attention to the economy?
Tonight Show: he went on and discussed the economic program and reached out to a segment of the population that previous presidents have by and large ignored. Are those Americans not worth reaching out to in your opinion?
"Other public appearances" outside of Washington: this is the most petty of them all. People widely complain that previous presidents have not been very visible and have not done their part to get outside the bubble that is Washington and see how his constituents are actually living their lives. Much talk is blathered about "how this plays in Peoria," but let a President actually visit Peoria and see first hand how bad things are, and you criticize him for not being in Washington?
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Flybyguy From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 1801 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (5 years 8 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 2426 times:
Quoting D L X (Reply 5): This is an incredibly petty sentiment.
However, I think Obama was naieve when he came to Washington as the "new kid on the block" with ideas of cleaning up a corrupt political system that's been around for 200+ years. I do think Obama is sincere about his willingness to clean up D.C. politics, however, I think both veteran Democrats and Republicans on the Hill have plenty to lose if that happens. Let's face it, D.C.'s very soul are those secret handshakes, political favors, and power hoardings that we all know happen. No one man is going to change that.
I think the American people voted for Obama not so much for his anti-corruption policies, but probably more because they hated Bush and everything that he and his party had turned the country into. I think had McCain won, they would be more concerned about instituting archaic religious dogmas on the American public while watching state after state go bankrupt. Though I don't agree with where Obama spends my tax dollars, I do agree that government needs to spend when private industry cannot.
I heartily agree with the money spent to boost unemployment benefits, but I don't agree with proping up companies like GM and Amtrak which are superflous in the grand scheme of things. GM produces the car of the day rather than the car of the future unlike its well-run foriegn competitors. Amtrak is simply an archaic, multibillion dollar D.C. hobby. Air travel, automoblies and intercity busses over the past 30 years have shown that they are reliable, efficient and affordable for our daily transportation needs.
The banking industry bailout is probably debateable. On the one had, having the taxpayer take on the banking industry's bad debt is necessary to get them to lend again, however, I think government policy, particualarly Clintonian policy lead us into this mess by encouraging banks to hand out "no questions asked" mortgages to low income individuals. I definitely see a media spin through the scapegoating of the banking industry alone when Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan were just as culpable. Why aren't they coming before Congress to answer for themselves, why aren't they appologizing to the American people along with the banks?
"Are you a pretender... or a thoroughbred?!" - Professor Matt Miller