Obama Reveals Earmarks

I know it can't compare to the great blogger caper, but I think this is a good move by Obama.  It focuses on transparency in government where it matters most, taxpayer dollars and who's getting rich at the public trough. It's also a much better way of drawing a distinction between himself and other candidates  than the (D-Punjab) memo.  This is, IMO, a more professional and effective way to go after the oppostion, and it's out in the open instead of 'not for attribution' which makes it look like your trying to be sneaky even though everybody else is doing it.  

Link and item below:

http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/ electioncentral/2007/jun/21/obama_will_r eveal_his_earmarks_challenges_other_dems _to_follow_suit#comment

This is interesting: Barack Obama is vowing to detail all his earmark requests today and is challenging his Presidential rivals to do the same.

Obama, who's tried to be out front on good government and ethics issues, is apparently the first Presidential hopeful to do this.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton says that Obama will detail his earmarks today by posting a 113-item list on his Senate office website.

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Jon Kyl revealed as source of anonymous hold on Open Government Act

As was commented on previously in the MyDD diary section, the Open Government Act, a bill which strengthens the FOIA, was recently put on an anonymous hold in the Senate. The source of that hold has now been revealed as
Jon Kyl
, Republican from Arizona.

Dozens of journalism and advocacy groups supporting the Open Government Act argue it would speed up the government's response to public requests for information under the federal Freedom of Information law.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., says the Justice Department is concerned that it could force them to reveal sensitive information.

In a statement Thursday, Kyl said the agency's "uncharacteristically strong" opposition is reason enough to think twice about the legislation, and he will block a vote until both sides can work out the differences.

Supporters of the bill are irate.

"This is a good government bill that Democrats and Republicans alike can and should work together to enact. It should be passed without further delay," said the bill's sponsor, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Frustrated, Leahy now is pressing senators to clear the bill for a vote.

Advocates who range from the Society of Professional Journalists to the Humane Society of the United States are especially frustrated because Kyl had objected under a Senate rule that allows members to hold legislation anonymously.

Kyl revealed his name Thursday, days after the bill's backers launched an e-mail and telephone campaign, urging their supporters to help in "smoking out 'Senator Secrecy.'" They pointed out the irony that an open government bill was being blocked using a rule that allowed secrecy.

So, I'm a little puzzled as to what is going on here. If any Senator can perform this maneuver, then why don't we see these "anonymous holds" used more often? Is Jon Kyl in particularly good standing to be pulling this kind of stunt, and is there any way pressure can be placed on him? How exactly does Leahy go about removing the hold to bring the bill for a vote?

And overall, what happens next for the Open Government Act?

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Isn't It Ironic? OPEN Government Held Hostage by Secret Hold

It's an almost unbelievable irony that a bill called the OPEN Government Act has been sequestered by another secret hold

The bill in question is a bipartisan effort to update the seminal Freedom of Information Act to make the government more open and accountable.  It recently overwhelmingly passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The House version of the bill, "Freedom of Information Act of 2007," passed on March 15 by 308 to 117.  More than one hundred organizations and thousands of citizens have expressed support for the bills.

Yet, when Senators Leahy and Cornyn tried to bring the bill to a vote on the floor last Thursday, the vote was blocked by "Senator Anonymous."  Some Republican senator called the Minority Leader's office and objected to a vote on the bill, but asked for anonymity and did not publicly state the reason for the hold.

This is not the first time the secret hold has been used to thwart transparency.  In fact, this tactic for lampooning openness in government seems to be the new darling of the old school back-room deal makers

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Participatory Democracy: Rate Your Senators' and Representative's Web Pages

The Sunlight Foundation has been doing some really interesting participatory journalism lately. Their current project is to get citizens to rate the websites of their members of Congress for transparency and accountability. So far 294 members have been rated and, in the wake of members like Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) posting their daily schedules online, the bar is getting higher for what citizens expect. The best part is that when the results are all in, we're going to post them on every members' Congresspedia profile so it can become part of their permanent record.

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Get Yer Red Hot Data, Here!

According to the annual personal financial disclosure statements, 42 Members of Congress own stock in Verizon (10 Ds and 32Rs). Thirty-six own stock in Time Warner (16 Ds and 20Rs). Thirty-three own stock in AT&T (11Ds and 22 Rs). Or, if net neutrality ain't your cause, how about Wal-Mart and the 42 members who own stock in the low-wage discount giant?

It used to be that the only way to figure this stuff out was ridiculously time-consuming. You could patiently download hundreds of PDFs, or try to read individual pages online. No wonder hardly anyone ever looks at what Members of Congress actually own--or that the fact that the number of millionaires in Congress outpaces the general population by a ratio of 35-1 is hardly ever mentioned.

Not any more. Want to know exactly how the federal government spends your money, or which contractors get the bulk of government deals, or what percentage of those contracts are bid competitively? Or, would you like to find out how much your Member of Congress is worth, or how many Members own stock in specific companies? Feel like checking out who's taken the most trips sponsored by private groups? Three new databases, one built by OMB Watch and two built by the Center for Responsive Politics, have just gone live, and judging by the intense press interest in the launch, I think there's going to be a lot of new and interesting stories appearing soon. (Full disclosure: I am a consultant to the Sunlight Foundation, which funded these new databases, and helped with this launch.)

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