Transparency: Can you see the illusion, now?


As the great Edward G. Robinson might say, “How do ya like yer transparency now? Ya! Ya!”

Obama’s “transparency” was always a damned illusion, of course. People bought it b/c they wanted to. In truth, I can’t think of a less transparent administration than this one, which keeps using that word as though it means something else.

So, here’s the latest:

The Sunlight Foundation notes that, the website created by the Obama transition team in 2008, ceased to exist after June 8, 2013. now reads: “The transition has ended and the new administration has begun,” then directs readers to That’s reasonable enough, although it would have been equally reasonable in January 2009, when ‘Change’ published its last post on the transition.

Why now? Sunlight assumes the administration wanted to scrub potential liabilities, such as this promise from the administration’s ethics agenda:

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment regarding the reasons for pulling the site.

Given that the “transparency czar” was eliminated in 2010, “why now” is a fair question.

About a year ago, someone accused me of being a simple hater, a “shill” for the right, an unthinking, unintelligent reactionary motivated by ideological hate and (of course) racism; he told me that the Obama I observed was “completely different from the one I see.” About five weeks ago, he admitted that, yeah…he could see, finally, the inconsistent, illusory idol I’d been identifying for five years –the golden calf, empty except in how it reflected believers back to themselves.

And golly, all it took was a couple of months into a re-election that would give Obama “more flexibility” and a belief (re-inforced by his ever-protective, journo-politically incested fanboys and fangirls in the press) that he and his administration were no longer accountable to anyone, for anything.

It’s “masks off” time for many, it seems. Our policymakers are a sorry lot. The only folks on the world stage I’m liking right now, are Peter the Roman, and his silent, prayerful predecessor.

And Peter keeps telling us to open our eyes and see the idols for what they are; to become aware of the idols so we may cast them aside, while there is time; to reach, instead, for Christ and his truth.

“It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure,” he said. “Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols.”

I don’t think it’s any accident at all that we’re seeing this headline, now. News of the beatification of Oscar Romero comes in God’s good time, not man’s, and I suspect his eventually sainthood will speak more forcefully to our immediate future, than it might have a few years ago. The day before he was assassinated, this great bishop preached directly to the soldiers who repressed the people, in obedience to the Salvadoran regime.

“In the name of God, in the name of these suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: Stop the repression.”

Yes, I fully understand how ironic it is to uphold Romero, who was killed by a “right wing” regime, as a possible voice of encouragement against the galloping intrusions and excesses of a “left wing” regime. But the truth is when extremism makes people afraid to speak out or to do their jobs for fear of retribution, it doesn’t matter whether the tyranny has originated from “the right” or “the left” — it is of a piece, and only reveals to us that the distinctions themselves were illusions meant to divide and conquer.

We are in for some very interesting days, possibly scary, even harsh ones, I think, for any who dare to remain curious or who have the fortitude to resist succumbing to “the party” for the sake of personal expediency or a pension.

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About Elizabeth Scalia