- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Not so transparent

President Obama is earning low marks from a variety of critics for failing to follow through on his promises of legislative transparency.

Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute wrote a pointed piece that noted that only one of the 11 pieces of legislation signed into law have been made available for five days for public comment. Some of the unfinished versions of bills have been linked while making their way through Congress, but transparency advocates insist that the final version of the bill must be made available on the president’s Web site before being signed into law.

Mr. Harper isn’t the only one who noticed. A new poll conducted by the National Journal found that new-media experts, ranging across the ideological spectrum, gave the president’s online efforts an average grade of C+.

Ellen Miller, executive director for the Sunlight Foundation, gave www.whitehouse.gov a “C.”

“Ninety percent of the time the site is pretty straightforward, as it was under Bush,” she said.

Death threats

A 52-year-old Oklahoma City man was arrested on tax day on suspicion of threatening to kill people attending a taxpayer tea party protest at the state Capitol.

News of the arrest came after the Department of Homeland Security issued a controversial report warning of the increase in violent “right-wing extremism in the United States.”

According to an FBI criminal complaint, Daniel Knight Hayden, who went by the name CitizenQuasar on a popular microblogging site, threatened murder on several occasions in the run-up to tax day. He purportedly wrote messages such as “start the killing now” in screaming all-caps, and “I really don’t give a (expletive) anymore. Send the cops around. I will cut their heads off the heads and throw the(m) on the State Capitol steps.”

The last Twitter message posted by Mr. Hayden on April 15, according to the complaint, said, “Locked AND loaded for the Oklahoma State Capitol. Let’s see what happens.”

Special agent Michael S. Puskas wrote in his complaint that he tracked Mr. Hayden down through his computer’s IP address and his public MySpace profile.

Liberal bloggers quickly pointed to Mr. Hayden to validate the Obama’s administration’s report about the rise of right-wing extremism. The postings attributed to Mr. Hayden are obviously anti-government, although his political persuasions do not appear to be linked to any party.

Postings on Mr. Hayden’s MySpace profile included a video that accused President George W. Bush of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, a blog that suggests President Obama hypnotizes his supporters, photos that equate gun control to fascism, and lengthy quotations from the books “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Bloggers in Va.

Prominent liberal activists will host a debate for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates at the Virginia Tech campus on Wednesday.

Writers from the Huffington Post, Firedoglake and Not Larry Sabato, all popular liberal blogs, will hold what they call the “first ever gubernatorial debate sponsored by netroots in history.” Candidates R. Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian J. Moran each plan to attend.

Organizers are soliciting 15- to 60-second questions from online platforms such as YouTube and Twitter to ask at the forum. Moderators Jane Hamsher from Firedoglake, Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post and David Grant from Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times will ask questions.

Mr. Pitney wrote in an announcement that debates “in this state are typically hosted by a local newspaper, Chamber of Commerce, or trade group - rarely, if ever, by progressive bloggers or online activists like Ben Tribbett [of Not Larry Sabato]. If we do our jobs correctly, that will mean a different set of questions being asked, and some new information from the candidates being expressed.”

Greta vs. CNN, NYT

“It is wrong. It is a lie at worst - sloppy reporting at best. I don’t know if New York Times ‘is in bed’ with CNN or the other way around.”

- Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren on her blog refuting a New York Times piece that stated she had recently started beating CNN’s Anderson Cooper in the ratings for their 10 p.m. slot. Ms. Van Susteren cited ratings reports that show she has been No. 1 in that time slot for the past seven years.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com

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