Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Worst President? V

I continue with my award winning series (yes, my award, so what?) on why President Obama is the worst president in my lifetime. I refer you to the first post on this topic for the overview, and the previous posts under this title ("The Worst President?") in the archives, starting July 2, 2014:

Now, still counting down, we cover -

No. 5) The closed society.

This administration claimed it would have unprecedented openness and the most transparent administration in history. That, of course, includes freedom of the press, and the ability of the public and press to access information. And not that many congresses and presidents don't routinely claim this type of thing and then fail mightily. But, as with the other failures I've charged him with, he manages to surpass the others. And, yes, that includes Nixon - 

James Risen would differ with President Obama on his dedication to freedom of the press.  Risen is a New York Times reporter who was involved in a story concerning a CIA plot to disrupt Iran's nuclear program that went astray. For the past seven years he has been fighting the federal government, which seeks his testimony with respect to the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who is a former CIA agent and is accused of leaking information on covert activities to Risen.  Risen's quote: "He's the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation" is coming from one an employee of one of the president's greatest institutional supporters. If you don't understand the freedom of the press issue with reporters not giving up their sources, google, as I'm assuming you know.

Risen is no newcomer to the CIA, having published two books on it. In his 2006 bestseller State of War (blah, blah, blah), he wrote about a late Clinton administration CIA scheme to give Iran bad blueprints. Unfortunately (apparently - I haven't really researched this), the courier, a Russian scientist, corrected the problems in the prints and it may have aided Iran. While Risen was researching the book, his telephone conversations with Sterling were monitored by the government.

The government sought Risen's testimony and he has refused. In 2006, AG Holder stated that journalists might be prosecuted for publishing leaked information. However, before leaving office, former AG Holder stated that the Justice Department would not seek Risen's imprisonment for refusing to testify. Actually, what he said was that "no reporter is going to jail as long as I'm Attorney General." Is that why he soon after resigned? That's just speculation.

A federal court has ruled that Risen must testify at the Sterling trial (which, by the way, is under the espionage law, which is rare for a leak). Just a few days ago, Risen was called to testify at a hearing preceding Sterling's trial. It is possible that without his testimony, the case will fall apart. Nevertheless, he has continued to refuse to testify. We will have to wait to see what happens.

Another Times' employee, David Sanger, their chief Washington correspondent states: "“this is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered." There are many others. I'm just showing enough to make the point.

 Another voice against the administration is Ann Compton who recently retired after 41 years working for CBS (which, come on, is a long time). She gave an interview to Brian Lamb of C-Span shortly after retiring, in which she said - "Before I walked out the door on September 10, I was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the President does in the Oval Office everyday. He is far less accessible on photo-ops with meetings. Even some meetings on the record, meeting in the Roosevelt room with financial leaders from, from Wall Street or on issues with environmental groups, or with issues with environmental groups, with public opinion leaders, I think most presidents have been far more forthcoming than the second Obama term, in terms of what the President is doing every day and we almost never get photo-ops."  

One would not normally call CBS an enemy of the president either. Nor is the Washington Post. A former executive editor there, Len Downie, who now teaches at Arizona State said: "This is the most restrictive and most message-controlling, most manipulative, and often hostile administration that I've seen since the Nixon administration."  There's that Nixon. Ouch.

Apparently in an attempt to investigate the leak of information concerning a terror plot in 2012, the Justice Department seized records for 20 different telephone lines of the Associated Press and reporters, possibly revealing sources of over 100 reporters who use the lines about, of course, for reasons that can have nothing to do with the investigation.  The complaint from the AP was not that an investigation was made, but that the collection of information far exceeded any possible investigation.

The AP itself has found the Obama administration increasingly opaque with respect to Freedom of Information Requests. It's a broad topic and you can do your own research, but, the AP relying on the governments own records show how the White House has closed the door more than ever to the press and the public. Bloomberg News' own study found that 19 of 20 departments they investigated were worse than ever and that by year 4 of Obama's term, the administration's defense of FOIA lawsuits were up 28%.

None of this should be any surprise. The White House has been even battling the normally tame White House press corps.  Furious at the White House acting like an editor with respect to the pool reports from reporters it is just supposed to distribute to hundreds of recipients, many of the corp. have had to find alternate ways to distribute simply to avoid the White House's blue pen. Why any White House is involved is a good question, but they have the master distribution list. The agreement is that the White House is supposed to distribute it untouched.  Hah.

This one is really scary. Sharryl Attkinson is another former CBS reporter whose stories on this administration can't please it. They include Fast and Furious, Solyndra, Benghazi and others. But, she has also pointed out she has written negative stories against the tea party and other groups on the right - she says and appears to be non-partisan in her reporting (and, seriously, how far right can she be working for CBS for many years?)   Regardless, the Justice Department issued a very suspicious denial it had tapped her home phones and broken into her home and office computers, using vague phrases like - "to our knowledge" and "without merit." Independent experts hired by CBS and also now retired Sen. Coburn of Tennessee have verified the wrongful interceptions and takings and conclude it was done with extremely sophisticated means only available to a few federal agencies.  Attkinson notes how the White House came out like a lion when Sony was hacked, but seem completely (but not surprisingly) unconcerned about her own hacking. She has begun legal proceedings. I don't know if she will get anywhere, but if she does, he will probably be already out of office or such a lame duck, no one will care.  Remember I said the worst president in my lifetime, which would include Nixon. I am far from the first to say, worse than Nixon.

Sadly, given politics today and the personal preference most of the media has in the Democrat Party and progressivism (this is well documented and the polling overwhelming; so I'm not stopping to argue it), few will care and take on the administration over Attkinson or others.  This is sad, as it is an important right and they are not defending each other because of politics or perceived politics will be their downfall.  Whether we get a Republican or Democrat in office next, they will try and build on the power of the president, not retreat.  As with most of these issues, you can go on and on. I'm trying to write shorter posts so that I will write more often, so I'll stop here.


  1. Just wondering if you've been hearing any strange noises on your phone or if your computer is acting strangely? Any Men in Black following you? You keep this up and you will pass me on the government's enemies list.
    You are , sadly correct that neither party will seriously roll back the power (not authority) of the government. I'm starting to see parallels to about 1774.
    I wonder what is going to happen next. It may be getting to the point of "alter or abolish"


  2. I still maintain that President Nixon is in a class of his own. Exempting him, I agree fully that Pres. Obama is the worst in our lifetime, one of the ten worst ever.And President Nixon gets special status because of his proven criminality, not his effectiveness as President which was far greater than President Obama's. Excellent work, Frodo. And Don, I agree with you as well, but please, stay away from loaded firearms.

  3. I thought I replied to Don the other day, but, apparently my usual digital dexterity kicked in. However, given Bears last comment - I second it.

    As to Bear, I am not about to argue with anyone who feels Nixon was worse. Certainly a strong argument there. Still, close enough.

    And lest anyone think the power of this blog goes unnoticed in the halls of power, within days of posting it the AG gave up on calling James Risen to testify. Sure, you could say it was just a coincidence and that almost no one reads my blog, but where's the fun in that?


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .