Putting a Partisan Legal Advocate in Charge of White House Transparency

Do click on the link that Jesse Walker highlighted below about President Obama re-assigning his ethics czar to Shirley Temple Black's old job as U.S. ambassador to Prague. It's a Timothy P. Carney column, and as such it will make you want to throw a brick through an opaque window:

President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.

Obama transferred "ethics czar" Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen's duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Bauer is renowned as a "lawyer's lawyer" and a legal expert. His resume, however, reads more "partisan advocate" than "good-government crusader." Bauer came to the White House from the law firm Perkins Coie, where he represented John Kerry in 2004 and Obama during his campaign.

Bauer has served as the top lawyer for the Democratic National Committee, which is the most prolific fundraising entity in the country. Then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the caricature of a cutthroat Chicago political fixer, hired Bauer to represent the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. [...]

Bauer's own words -- gathered by the diligent folks at the Sunlight Foundation -- show disdain for openness and far greater belief in the good intentions of those in power than of those trying to check the powerful.

And so on and so forth.

Obama, who came into office promising the bestest ever transparency (including signing the Reason Foundation's Oath of Presidential Transparency [PDF]) has been a disappointment on that front. A partial sampling of Reason linkage detailing how:

* "Obama Punts His First State Secrets Case," Radley Balko, February 2009

* "What Is a Day in Obama's Eyes?" Jacob Sullum, March 2009

* "Obama Whiffs on Transparency," Radley Balko, April 2009

* "Seeing Is Believing," Veronique de Rugy and Eileen Norcross, May 2009

* "Putting the 'Spare' in Transparency," Matt Welch, May 2009

* "Transparency 0, Terrible Burdens of Wielding Enormous Power 1," Matt Welch, May 2009

* "Obama Keeping Promises That Grow Government; Abandoning Promises That Hold It Accountable," Radley Balko, June 2009

* "Obama Blocks Access to White House Logs," Radley Balko, June 2009

* "Transparency Failure," Katherine Mangu-Ward, July 2009

* "Transparency Not Needed for TARP Funds After All," Amanda Carey, July 2009

* "Government Openness Meeting: Closed to the Media and Public," Brian Doherty, December 2009

* "Supreme Court Extends Obama Administration's Prisoner-Abuse Secrecy," Matt Welch, December 2009

* "Live C-SPAN Coverage vs. Pass Now, Explain Later," Jacob Sullum, January 2010

* "The New Transparency," Jacob Sullum, January 2010

* "Government Backslides on Agriculture-Subsidies Transparency," Matt Welch, May 2010

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    "Change we won't tell you about."

  • juris imprudent||

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • The Secret Service||

    Or else.

  • ||

    He should try something new, like blaming Bush.

  • ||

    I think Brink Lindsey out to be forced to author these kinds of posts. I know he doesn't work for Reason. But maybe the CATO could loan him out for the next two years to do nothing but write on Obama's broken promises on civil liberties and transparency.

  • Hank||

    I'm calling bullshit on this one. Transperancy is just code for "I don't approve of a bi-racial president." I'm not sure what dictionary you people, and George Stephanopoulos, use around here, but throwing words like transparency, tax, reform, and deficit around coded in these so-called "blog posts" is indecent. There should be laws protecting people from this vile racist rhetoric. Dishonest, coded, bullshit rhetoric will get you no where!

  • ||

    I hope that is meant as humorous trolling.

  • ||

    This is great. It's just like the Nazis dismissing opposition and whole countries because of "the Jews." Sorry, concerns about the administration's honesty, transparency, accountability, civil liberties' positions, political motivations, competence, etc. are all racist. Do not question us! Ever!

  • Jeffersonian||

    The best thing about the Nazis is that they actually *believed* that horseshit, causing them to dismiss so much actionable information that could have save their Teutonic bacon. Similarly, the defenders of Obama's stonewalling are also True Believers...something that will soon cause their downfall.

  • ||

    What's scary--truly scary--is that if the Nazis had just sat on the kill-everyone-we-don't-like policies until they were done taking over Europe, they might've won. One of the biggest blunders they ever made was indiscriminately slaughtering Russians, which wasted an opportunity to be liberators. 'Cause nobody much liked Stalin.

    One of the nice things about evil is that it usually overreaches in very obvious--and horrific--ways.

  • Barack Obama||

    No way.

  • Hank||

    Troll/trolling - is that your little, queer esoteric butt-buddy Hit & Run code word for outside commenter? You discriminating commenter bastard. Racist.

    Yes, that was a joke. Just like other injections of racism where it has no place. Nowheres

  • ||

    Civil liberties and privacy are two other racist dog whistles they throw around here a lot.

  • Liberals||

    We're not saying all right-wingers are racist, but...

  • ||

    Wht do you mean "you people"?

  • ||

    "It's the little things, isn't it?"

  • ||

    Dishonest, coded, bullshit rhetoric will get you no where!

    I give up; where? I need my noes.

  • juris imprudent||

    Erewhon, dude, Erewhon.

    It's in New Zealand. Seriously.

  • Fire Tiger||

    Dishonest, coded, bullshit rhetoric will get you no where!
    But I want my where. Further more trying to deny me my where is little more than discrimination. You can expect to hear from my lawyers.

  • ||

    "Dude, this whistle is totally awesome. Only dogs racists can hear it. Go ahead and try it."

  • ||

    I want to market a "racist dog whistle". It would be a whistle that when you blow into it is says "welfare queen" or "do something about crime" or other such phrases.

  • waffles||

    that's almost as good as my "jump to conclusions" mat!

  • ||

    Now I want to destroy a printer. With pieces of flair.

  • Id||

    This is the most transparent administration in history!

  • ||

    That's what I've thought from pretty early on. They're very transparent. Just not in the way they want us to think.

  • Id||

    Reminds me of the beer commercials: "It just doesn't get any better than this!"

    Really?

    Fuck.

  • ||

    They mean well. They have your best interests at heart, you ingrates.

  • Fire Tiger||

    There are good people and there are bad people. Good people are those God blesses with power, bad people are everybody else.

  • ||

    It would be a whistle that when you blow into it is says "welfare queen" or "do something about crime" or other such phrases.

    Don't they already have a talking Rush Limbaugh doll?

  • ||

    Mine would be better. It would have phrases such as "socialism" or "lower taxes" or "Why didn't Obama close GUITMO".

  • .||

    Gitmo.

  • ||

    Obviously Obama is just doing this for political pusposes, once he eliminates teh head of transparency he will be free politicaly to really start making more info available to the public.

    You transparency supremicist just can't get past the fact that we have a opaque president. Your racism is neverending.

  • Id||

    When I have pusposes I usually see a doctor.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...and I've never gotten them from having politics with a girl.

  • juris imprudent||

    Who have you been in congress with?

  • ||

    Really, aren't we forcing him to do this with our neverending, partisan assault upon him? I heard a guy on Fox actually mention 1099s yesterday.

    Are we not the true villains?

    No? Oh. All right then. Fuck him.

  • hmm||

    That's racist.

    Who is surprised he isn't transparent?

  • ||

    Anybody remember Obama supporters talking about him like he would be the second coming? Remember joe? Remember him being the prince of sweetness and light?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    This shit is fucking gold, only for the crushed dreams and desperate dodges by the people he fucked. Give me more, I say; for if I am fucked by Obama, I want to glory in the fuckedness of those who actually thought he'd be something other than a scumbag. Feed me your disappointment. Feed me your loss. Feed me your betrayal. I want to bask in it, you fucking moronic losers.

  • Warty||

    But Bush!

  • ||

    I'm in love with you!

  • ||

    Back off! He's mine! [hiss]

  • ||

    Yes, my pretties! Fight for me!

  • The Gobbler||

    And two-bits!

  • ||

    What's truly disturbing are the number of Obama supporters who are distorting reality to psychotic levels in order to continue supporting the doofus. It's even worse than the situation we saw with the Bushies, as they at least saw some flaws, once or twice.

    Really, this false dichotomy that seems to require so many people to choose horrific politicians because the only alternative--the ONLY ONE--is the other party is total lunacy. Can't have those other guys getting anywhere, so anything goes as long as it's wearing the appropriate team colors.

  • ||

    I detest McCain, but I seriously have to wonder...could he have been this bad, this soon? Barring bombing Iran, which would have been worse, I'd have to say no.

  • ||

    What are you going to say after Obama bombs Iran? I bet he does in the next year.

  • marlok||

    You think Obama will bomb Iran right before the election? Clinton showed that sending a few missiles in the air can win you a few points.

  • ||

    While McCain might've done some stimulating and needless bipartisany crap, he'd have been at loggerheads with the Democratic Congress for most of the time. Doubt he'd have nationalized industries or signed the healthcare bill.

    So, yeah, Obama's worse.

  • ||

    Epi:

    Yeah, I think it was a coin flip. I suspect McCain would have done many of the same stupid things, plus invented a few stupids of his own.

    The only positive thing about Obama is that he is healthier, which makes it less probable that Biden will succeed him prior to the end of his term than was the case with McCain/Palin.

  • ||

    McCain would have made the bad things he did "bi partisan". At least under Obama we know who to blame.

  • The People||

    "At least under Obama we know who to blame."

    Obstructionist republicans.

  • Ivan||

    "At least under Obama we know who to blame."

    Obstructionist racist republicans.

  • ||

    President Biden WOULD BE AWESOME! The biggest economic boost to the lulz industry ever.

  • ||

    It's almost like having a President Zoidberg.

  • ||

    "Now you have Zoidberg! You ALL have Zoidberg!"

  • juris imprudent||

    Oh, yeah, just like a Quayle presidency would've been all lulz.

    If only I could stop the shuddering.

  • ||

    Because politics for them is about emotion. They are so emotionally attached to him they can't admit any fault.

    And the media sold out so badly for him in the election, they have no choice but to defend him now no matter how bad he does.

  • Bruised but still in love||

    But he really loves us! And he promised that to change.

  • Obama's Mother||

    No way my boy would do the things they say he did. He's a good boy.

  • ||

    That is why I said above that Brink Lindsey ought to be forced to draft these kinds of posts. The people who ran around claiming that Obama was going to be good on civil liberties are a special sort of stupid.

    It would be like me claiming you should vote Republican this November because a Republican Congress is going to repeal the Patriot Act and end the war in Afghanistan.

  • ||

    That is a bad example. The better one would be me claiming you should vote Republican because a Republican Congress is going to defund the Department of Education and resurrect the Lockner decision.

    That is pretty much what Joe was claiming in 2006. He actually thought that a Democratic Congress was going to defund Iraq and bring the troops home. Then in 2007 we had the surge and there were more troops there under the Democratic Congress than there was under the Republican Congress. When I pointed this out to him much ad homonym and hilarity ensued.

  • juris imprudent||

    See the problem with trying to think for Republicans - it makes you as stupid as they are.

    Although not as stupid as when you actually believe what they promise.

  • ||

    Anybody remember Obama supporters talking about him like he would be the second coming? Remember joe?

    Whatever do you mean?

    joe|12.10.08 @ 1:19PM|#

    It's going to be nice having a president who's honest.

    For

    A

    CHANGE.

  • ||

    That is why Joe ran off. Once Obama got going he could have never posted on here. Every time he did, someone would have just found one of the thousands of posts like that and put it back in his face. Nothing short of a complete mea culpa about his stupidity could have saved him. And Joe never admitted he was wrong about anything.

  • ||

    Yes...yes. This is the good stuff. It's like a drug. I want more.

  • ||

    The first one's free, etc.

  • ||

    Check out this one from Reason writer Steve Chapman.

    "Obama is getting more congenial coverage, but not because he's ideologically compatible with most scribes. The real reasons are that he vanquished the formidable Hillary Clinton, his race gives him huge historical significance, and he has exceptional political talents that even his critics acknowledge."

    http://reason.com/archives/2008/07/28/team-obama

  • BakedPenguin||

    He does have political talents. He lies constantly and well.

  • cynical||

    Isn't that all true?

  • ||

    joe|5.16.08 @ 1:21PM|#

    BakedPenguin,

    joe - good point, but would Obama appoint a judge who would have voted in the minority (actually, making it a majority) in Kelo?

    If you remember, there were two dissents to that decision. I find it quite plausible, given his work as a community organizer in Chicago, that he would appoint someone who took the Sandra Day O'Connor dissent - that the state doesn't just get to define "public use" any old way it wants, that there need to be standards, or it is ripe for abuse which will mainly fall on the poor.
    reply to this

    Obama was going to appoint judges who would overturn Kelo. How is that working out?

  • ||

    Hmm. Well, as a community organizer from Chicago, I'd expect Obama to appoint justices who would vote twice on each opinion.

  • ||

    Not to mention dead judges.

  • ||

    It's easy to pack the Court when you don't have to nominate or, for that matter, pay, a dead (yet voting) justice.

  • ||

    I love rubbing TEAMBLUE morons noses' in the constant failures of the Chosen One.

    Problem is, there are so many that they all start to blur together and it's tough to think of a specific instance on the spot.

    Might it be easier to just keep track of thing that he's done differently than Bush?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I demand translucence!

    I wouldn't mind seeing the truth of what my government is doing with a little bit of a glow... you know, see the facts through one of those soft filters they used to film actresses with to make them look more appealing and feminine. Back when they had to find ways to give male viewers a boner without showing tits. Those were the days... Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah... Obama, show us your tits!

  • ||

    I expect that we will be getting nothing but 'black holes' (gravity so great that even light, or information, cannot escape its sway*) from now on.
    * definition to make clear that although I usually reference porno, and talk smut and filth, and it could be inferred I was talking about black sex, I was actually making a point about openness in the gubermint.

  • it's always 4:20!||

    Black holes are merely where God divided by zero.

  • ||

    It's just like the Nazis dismissing opposition and whole countries because of "the Jews."

    It's like Chris Matthews dismissing all questioning of the Ascended One because of birthers.

  • ||

    Its like Chris Matthew dismissing all questioning of the second coming because of:
    logic
    reality
    leg tingles

  • ||

    hold it - I didn't say that right.
    Its like Chris Matthew dismissing all questioning of the second coming because of:
    ill logic
    non-reality
    leg tingles

  • ||

    Tingling in the lower extremities can be a sign of out-of-control diabetes.

  • BakedPenguin||

    In Matthews' case, we can only hope.

    I wouldn't want to see him die, but I could stand to hear that he'd be off the air for three months, losing a few toes.

  • creech||

    Yet the Obamessiah is a good bet to win in 2012, according to Michael Medved in yesterday's WSJ. Put blacks, hispanics, and white liberals together and you get a winning combination no matter how angry conservatives and independents get.
    Pandering to those who want to eliminate automatic citizenship for children born in USA is not going to win Republicans many votes in the "in play" hispanic community.

  • ||

    He currently has a 38% approval rating among whites. Sorry but whites are still a majority and you have to win at least some votes outside of the "stuff white people like" community.

  • Colin||

    Matt, if you remember the ambassador that came after Shirley Temple, I'm sure you'll recall that this guy couldn't be any worse.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Under Bush I, the Czechs wanted Frank Zappa to be "Cultural Ambassador", as his music had been a huge inspiration to the Velvet Revolutionaries (they might have accepted Lou Reed). However, James Baker stopped that appointment, because Zappa had embarrassed Baker's wife during the PRMC hearings.

  • Matt Welch||

    I remember it as having a sort of unofficial vibe from the get-go, one that also acknowledged the dude's health was failing (if I'm not mistaken, his appearance at the concert celebrating the Soviet troop withdrawal from Czechoslovakia was one of his last if not *the* last performance ever...he played like one reggae song, looking super frail, and that was it).

  • Matt Welch||

    In general, the caliber of ambassadors to Central Europe during the 1990s was shameful. In contrast to the junior ranks, which included a lot of very dynamic and intelligent people.

  • ||

    Obama has done a good job. He neutralized the left's opposition to war. Now that we have expanded the war some more and are on the verge of attacing Iran, we can bring in a good republican war president to make sure we finish the job over ther(i.e drop nukes)....all the mad republicans will vote for it even if the new guy/gal institutes a national service plan(modern draft). Everyone wants a balanced budget right? so we just need to put a VAT in place and the problem is almost solved, but then we may have to put a CO2 tax in...sorry we know it will be a little unpopular with racists..but the democrats will love it. and gay marriage will be legal so Reason will be thrilled!

  • e'||

    watches on my name

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