Treasury Touts Long-Available Derivatives Report As A Part Of Its ‘New’ Open Government Plan

This morning, the folks at the U.S. Treasury Department put out a press release announcing their "Open Government Plan," which they are touting as a "New Information Sharing Effort" that "Promotes [a] Culture of Transparency, Collaboration, Participation." The release reads, in part:

As part of a commitment to increase transparency in government and maintain accountability of taxpayer dollars, the U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced an open government effort that will increase public access to data and information. Under this initiative, Treasury has compiled and will now make available new data on tax returns, more user friendly information on transactions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and a new report on bank trading and derivatives.

It's new! And it's now! Except, of course, for the component of this "Open Government Plan" that's actually been available for over a decade that the Treasury is now attempting to pass off as something they've just introduced.

Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives. This new report, made available by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, provides information on the federal government's supervision of banks as well as the investment activities of financial institutions.

Yeah, see, that "new report" has actually been available since 1995. You can look it up! The Huffington Post's own business reporter Shahien Nasiripour tells me, "I've written many, many articles on derivatives, and I've been using this report for a long time."

The release cites two additional "new" innovations: new data from the Internal Revenue Service on taxpayer "migration patterns" and a new "format" for transactions being made under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. One used to be available for a fee; the other in a slightly less useful PDF format, so that's all well and good -- but as examples of "new" frontiers in government transparency, it's pretty weak tea.

So it's really no wonder that the Treasury would pad these scant offerings out with a report that financial reporters have been using very effectively, for years.

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HuffPo: “Tiger Woods Sex (VIDEO)”

The Huffington Post has reached a new level in its unending quest to to create “content” for the sake of internet searchers demand. This time the search engine optimization wizards are at work in the site’s Green vertical, with a headline blaring “Tiger Woods Sex (VIDEO).” With a title like that, it's sure to draw in icky people expecting—hoping!—to...

Ommwriter

Artistic musical take on the idea of a full-screen text editor. Currently in beta, and requires you to send them your email address to download.

Jimmy Breslin Celebrated By Friends, Media

Mr. Breslin, who is around 80, was feted by past colleagues from The Daily News and Newsday (several of whom now work at The New York Times) for nearly two and a half hours in a celebration organized by New York University's Glucksman Ireland House.


Blake Fleetwood: Did the Secret Service Deliberately Let the White House Crashers In?

The Salahis were well known wanna-be celebrity party-hounds on the Washington social scene. Is there any way that they were able to escape the notice of the Secret Service and is there any way that they could have crashed the gala gates without inside help?

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Consider the mood of the country two and a half weeks ago. Obama's health reform bill was being pummeled by a right wing populist movement that was dominating the news cycles... The Blue Dog Democrats were threatening to scuttle the reform bill. The liberals were calling it "a sellout."

Obama was not able to get his message out above the din...

His approval was crashing from 70% to 47%. "Tea parties" and insurance lobbyists were massacring the message with tens of millions of dollars in anti-reform ads. Obama's staff, among the most sophisticated in history, had to stop the populist frenzy.

What better way than to let this arriveste couple -- the blonde former model and her polo playing husband -- crash a State Dinner. Great photos and sexy videos always trump dreary policy debates.

The media would eat up Michaele Salahi and her bare midriff sari ogling the young president. There are so many natural media angles. It would remind everyone of the danger to the young handsome president, the letdown of the Secret Service. But they had to lure the Salahis to the White House gala. For this, they had the help of Michele Jones, a decorated, loyal, defense department aide, who hinted to the Salahis that they "might" get an invitation.
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The Salahis emailed her their date of birth and social security numbers and they were cleared as far as the Secret Service procedures goes.

This was all the Salahis needed, and the way was subtly paved for them at the entrance. They were cleared on Secret Service list, even if they weren't on the invited list.

The plan worked beautifully. The day after, the Salahis thanked war hero Jones for getting them in, Jones emailed them back. "You are most welcome! I here [sic] the smile in your email and am delighted that you and Michaele had a wonderful time ."

For two and a half weeks, Obama's falling polls number disappeared from front pages of the newspapers and airways. The Republicans would hold press conferences on the public option and surprise, surprise, nobody would come.

The only thing the American public wanted to see was Michaele posing with Obama, Biden and Katie Couric. Michaele was the life of the party. It became the most publicized state dinner in the history of the Republic.

The anti reform forces were muzzled. The only press traction the Republicans could get was when Peter King held hearings on the party crashers and the Secret Service's failure.

But the coup de grace for the political gurus was when the techno gnomes managed to break into Tiger Wood's text messages and leak them to the National Enquirer.

Bingo. A magnificent double play which virtually assured that the public could pay no attention at all to health care reform. The politicos had no idea that so many babes would keep coming out of the woodwork.

In these so critical weeks Obama, Rahm and the legislative operatives were left free to work their political magic out of the media klieg lights.

So be happy. The odds look better this morning.

And if we do get a health care reform bill passed, the real heroes -- who we owe a debt of gratitude to -- will be Michaele Salahi and her revealing red sari and Tiger's busty babes who stole the media spotlight.

Could it be?