First, the email. In the same week that saw Attorney General Eric Holder claim transparency by giving a public speech opaquely defending the secrecy of the Obama Administration when it decides to kill people, the White House has announced a new website devoted to ethics and transparency:
The idea that government is more accountable when it is transparent is a principle that President Obama has worked hard to make a reality in his administration.
That's why the President pledged “to create a centralized Internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records, and campaign finance filings in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable format.”
This site, ethics.data.gov, is designed to be a fulfillment of that promise.
You can supposedly punch in a name, or a keyword, and oodles and oodles of info will pop right out at you. It purports to rip the White House Visitors' Log wide open! I haven't tried it out yet, and don't know that I ever will. My hesitancy has a little something to do with the Obama re-election campaign being involved in a massive data-mining scheme -- bringing me to my second object of hilarity.
A story in today's Times lays out the secretive, massive high-techie-tackiness of his Chicago political arm, and how campaign workers have all sorts of sneaky ways to find out who we are, via tracking cookies and other nefarious methods. (There is also a great piece in ProPublica outlining how those annoying Obama emails begging for donations are subtly tailor-made to apply to each unique donor). Anyway, here's the part in The Times piece that cracked me up:
Many of the small donors who gave early and often in 2008 have failed to rematerialize, (though officials say that with new donors and increasing enthusiasm they have no doubt that they will at least raise the $750 million they did then). Some of the volunteers who went to work enlisting friends and neighbors have been turned off by unmet expectations and the hard realities of partisan Washington, though the Republican attacks on Mr. Obama this year have helped bring some back into the fray.
And, campaign officials say, they have literally lost track of many reliable Democratic voters, particularly lower-income people who have lost their homes or their jobs or both, and can no longer be reached at the addresses or phone numbers the campaign has on file.
So Mr. Obama’s re-election team is sifting through reams of data available through the Internet or fed to it by its hundreds of staff members on the ground in all 50 states, identifying past or potential supporters and donors and testing e-mail and Web-based messages that can entice them back into the fold.This is priceless. They're actually attempting to locate the poor slobs who lost everything to the biggest, unpunished financial fraud conspiracy in American history, and thinking these people will be in any position or mood to give money to the biggest political sell-out in history. Don't forget to peruse the reader comments, especially the ones who still have listed phone numbers and get annoying daily -- daily! -- calls from the Obamatrons.
And last but not least, here is the third blackly humorous item on the agenda. Another Times story bemoans the fact that the corrupt Afghanistan government has not prosecuted a single case of corruption since the occupation, despite the fact that the righteous Americans are leading by democratic example! My stomach literally still hurts from the eruption of guffaws that one brought on. The Americans are said to be livid that Karzai has refused to go after crooks in his own country, despite being presented with tons of evidence by the generals. Karzai is inexplicably reacting to demands to prosecute his banksters with "interference, obstruction and delay." Wow. He probably had just gotten off the phone with Eric Holder, collecting some helpful tips in passive aggression.
Glenn Greenwald was having a field day with this one. "It’s simply shocking," he writes, "to find a country which would allow its political class to be dominated by those who 'have profited from the crony capitalism that has come to define its economic order' and who “nearly brought down” its banking system. What must it be like to live in such a country?"