In 2008 and 2012 voters put into office a man who promised to usher in a new era of transparency when it came to the federal government. Who knew that transparency requires secret email accounts that the government will try and charge you $1 million dollars for, in violation of the very mechanism (i.e., Freedom of Information Act) that is supposed to help individuals keep federal officials honest.
The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses. …
The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions. …
Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials’ records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that “persons who have placed themselves in the public light” – such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena – have a “significantly diminished privacy interest than others.” Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied. …
Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation’s signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be “administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”
Wrong. President Obama meant: “When in doubt, charge people $1 million dollars, and then back track if they call you on it.”
This past weekend my brother emailed me in response to my piece on insurance companies. My response touched on the effects of an ever-expansive federal bureaucracy:
From what I gather on health care, the more regulations that have been passed, the more the kind of crap we’re dealing with metastasizes (to stick with the medical terminology). Just like everything else, there will always be greedy or corrupt people, but the more hallways and corridors the government creates, the more places there are for such individuals to hide their unscrupulous sides. We’re not inside the companies or the federal government agencies connected with them, so we can’t zoom out to 30,000 feet to see the labyrinth. They know this. They know that there are few policy experts who get it, and those people work at places like Heritage or Cato or wherever … so their reach is limited. And since most of those experts are data heads, they don’t know how to explain it in ways the man on the street can understand. They can’t reference ‘Fight Club’ or some random other movies to help people make the connection. They start talking in acronyms and using charts and graphs and numbers and before you know it the “Average Joe” throws up his arms and goes to play the newest ‘Gears of War’ on his XBox.
Why does the Tea Party exist? Why did Occupy pop up? Why does Anonymous exist? The reason is because the government labyrinth is so complex and so dizzying that the worst parts of human nature are hiding in its shadows with all the confidence in the world that it is immune from accountability. But it isn’t. People are angry and frustrated because they know that this sort of thing isn’t right. Their anger is now exponentially exacerbated because President Obama didn’t just run for office as a change agent — he wanted you to believe he was the ultimate change agent.
Right now the anger is muted because instead of admitting the truth there are millions of Obama voters who are still deluding themselves. Instead of focusing on an administration that wire taps the Associated Press (I wonder why?) and denies or drags its feet on Freedom of Information Act requests, the kids have convinced themselves that the world needs to address gay marriage or abortion laws that were settled by the Supreme Court about a half-century ago.
Get ready for Project Mayhem, because every week that passes suggests that the powers that be are not interested in returning to our founding principles, and the more divorced we get from those principles the more likely it is that it will all end very, very badly.
This is your fearless space monkey signing out.