The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

President Bush Criticizes Congress: A Response (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Yesterday, I wrote about the President’s very harsh criticisms of Congress in a speech he gave that morning. I was glad to see this clip from “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” a mainstream news media source, point out some of the rational flaws (to say the least) with that speech. However, I must say that I could do without Olbermann’s openly hostile tone and occasional jabs. There seem to be a lot of things wrong with the system and those in charge, but hostility doesn’t seem like the most effective means of change.

Near the end of the video, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi responds to Bush’s criticisms of Congress.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Congress, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Economics, General Discourse, George W. Bush, House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Nathan Schmitt, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Poll: Slightly Disturbing

By Nathan Schmitt

Woman President Poll

I logged into Facebook just now and was confronted with this poll. It is by no means a credible representation of the population as there is no sampling/method data (i.e. MoE, target demographic, etc…) so it’s not worth reading too much into. However, it is safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of submissions are from college students, followed by high school students and people of similar age.

That’s not to say that this is representative of young adults, but it seems to be representative of some unknown demographic. It’s hard to tell what this means, if anything at all. I just thought I’d post it since I was so surprised.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | 2008 Election, General Discourse, Hillary Clinton, Nathan Schmitt, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Last Night’s Democratic Debate: Hyperbolic Reporting

By Nathan Schmitt

Before last night’s debate, MSNBC along with other networks raised hype (Note: they update the article so it is now in the past tense) about the Democratic candidates ganging up on Hillary Clinton. The word “attack” came up many times in many articles but this seems to be a bit of a misrepresentation. First, here are some examples:

Moments later, the tone changed as [Barack Obama] launched the first of a series of attacks on Clinton, claiming the 2008 presidential race ‘requires us to be honest about the challenges that we face. It does not mean, I think, changing positions whenever it’s politically convenient.’“(1) (emphasis added)


John Edwards of North Carolina zeroed in on Clinton’s vote for a congressional resolution that declared Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

That vote, he said, cleared the way for President Bush to invade Iran.

‘I mean, has anybody read this thing?’ Edwards asked. ‘I mean, it literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted.’” (2)

Then continued to say,

The contention over the Iran resolution was the sharpest disagreement in a debate that saw Clinton, D-N.Y., come under a gang assault from a field of rivals hoping to chip away at her commanding lead in national polls.” (2) (emphasis added)

Now, it is almost impossible to argue that the news media–especially mainstream–has not become increasingly theatrical in the past few years, presumably for the sake of viewership. This seems acceptable to a degree from the perspective of the free market as well as news media organizations “as businesses” with corresponding interests. And, indeed, it can be argued quite well that this theatricality (hyperbolic misrepresentation in this case) does not harm public discourse in most cases. This may well be true. In most cases…

Despite the seemingly trivial nature of this particular instance (“gang assaults” or “attacks” on Hillary Clinton) it seems to point to a much more important and fundamental issue: the distinction between legitimate argument of ideas and personal attacks of character.

Very rarely do candidates within the sphere of debate attack others on a personal level–certainly considerably less than the media reports. This is a pretty big statement considering how much candidates’ “personal attacks” seem to come up in the mainstream media. Here is the distinction I think is imperative to make if one is to begin to analyze this national debate effectively:

Personal Attacks: Attack the worth of a person as a human being and are intended to debase their unique personality.

Ex: “I do not respect this person. He/she is a fundamentally evil person.”

Argument of Ideas: This includes any arguments intended to criticize those aspects that a person presents or doesn’t present to the public that are of substantial (in terms of qualitative content) concern to the issue at hand.

Examples of this range from criticizing positions on the war, to campaign money fund raising, to a person’s honesty.

I should also specify that questions of honesty are not personal attacks because they do not intend to devalue a person as a person, but rather to question their qualification for a specific position of responsibility.

In any case, it seems that the media would benefit the people to honestly make this distinction, though it seems slight, because such issues are the foundation on which we base our decisions about who will be the next leader of our country.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Debates, General Discourse, Hillary Clinton, Nathan Schmitt, The Media | , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATED: Tonight’s Democratic Debate: Live Streaming (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Democratic presidential candidates debate
Tonight’s Debate LIVE (Click Here)

Above is a link to tonight’s democratic presidential candidates debate.

UPDATE: The “live” link is no longer active because the debate has ended. MSNBC has yet to upload tonight’s debate to streaming video, so until then, here is the next most recent Democratic debate from October 9th.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election | , | Leave a comment

Mukasey Tortured Over Definition

By Theo O’Brien

Former federal judge and Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey has refused to comment on whether he considers a number of techniques to be of a torturous nature. Instead, in his second day of the confirmation hearings, he chose a seemingly safe definition of anything that is unconstitutional, while adamantly refraining from listing waterboarding as a type of torture.

Mukasey, a retired federal judge who has ruled in some of the nation’s highest-profile terror trials, repeatedly avoided discussing the legality of specific interrogation techniques — including forced nudity, mock executions and simulated drowning known as waterboarding.

To comment would be irresponsible ‘when there are people who are using coercive techniques and who are being authorized to use coercive techniques,’ Mukasey said. (1)

Many Democrats publicly opposed his refusal to deem such acts to be unconstitutional and illegal, thus threatening his confirmation as Attorney General. In a possible attempt to regain some popularity in congress, Mukasey seemed to offer a concession on the issue.”

Michael B. Mukasey on Tuesday declared that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques “seem over the line or, on a personal basis, repugnant to me” and promised to review the legality of all such techniques if confirmed.” (2)

For a former federal judge—who relied on the power and impact of words—Mr. Mukasey appears to have a distinct lack of clarity, intentional or not, I cannot say. His inability to elucidate his position is concerning as he is posed to become the definitive legal authority in the United States.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Theo O'Brien, Torture | , , | Leave a comment

A Political Calendar: The 2008 Election

By Nathan Schmitt

This is pretty useful: a calendar of politics with respect to the 2008 Election including campaigning dates, debates, caucuses, etc..

October 30, 2007 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Nathan Schmitt | , | Leave a comment

2007 U.S. Intelligence Budget: $43.5 Billion

By Nathan Schmitt

For the first time in almost a decade, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the the Intelligence budget for 2007. There is very, very minimal information on the distribution itself, but the total amount is $43.5 Billion. Director Mike McConnell says,

Any and all information concerning the intelligence budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programmes, will not be disclosed.” (1)

Also, according to the WaPo,

The director of national intelligence will disclose today that national intelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S. intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion, according to sources on Capitol Hill and inside the administration.

The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S. intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion, according to these sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the total remains classified.” (2)

That is about a quarter of the amount that Bush requested for next year to fund the war in Iraq. The two aren’t directly related, the comparison is just for scale.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Economics, Nathan Schmitt, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Pirates: “We’re coming back!”

By Nathan Schmitt


Speaking of non-news, pirate attacks are on the rise worldwide. Perhaps I should make some cliched remark correlating this rise of attacks with Pirates of the Carribean and, although I am decidedly against such references, I just did.

The IMB said Southeast Asia’s Malacca Strait, one of the world’s busiest waterways, has been relatively quiet with 198 attacks on ships reported between January and September, up from 174 in the same period in 2006.

It said 15 vessels were hijacked, 63 crew members kidnapped and three killed.” (1)

Also, I think I should qualify that it is a problem as valuable goods, as well as lives, are being taken so it’s not something to be lightly laughed at. It does sound rather absurd rolling off the tongue though…

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Economics, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

President Bush Urges Congress to Pass Appropriations Bills

By Nathan Schmitt

This morning, the President gave a speech highly critical of congress saying that,

They have not been able to send a single annual appropriations bill to my desk, and that’s the worst record for a Congress in 20 years.” (1)

The bill that the President is referring to throughout this speech is presumably his war funding request for $194.6 Billion:

I hope the leadership feels that way, and they ought to give me a bill that funds, among other things, bullets, and body armor, and protection against IEDs, and mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles.” (1)

There was, however, an inherent contradiction in the President’s speech. On one hand he said that Congress is spending–or hoping to spend–far too much money yet urges them to send him a war funding bill.

Spending is skyrocketing under their leadership — at least proposed spending is skyrocketing under their leadership…

I again urge them to pass a clean Defense appropriations bill, and a war supplemental bill to fund our troops in combat.“(1)

It appears to be rather obvious that the President doesn’t have a problem with how much money is being spent, but instead, where he thinks the money should be going. This is no revelation by any means, but his juxtaposition of blatantly contradictory arguments serves to highlight the trend of quality of discourse taking place in contemporary politics. This disingenuous discourse cannot be specific to any person, party, or group but seems to be a general trend of thought that may (though not necessarily) emerge when reaching for ends of power and influence.

Perhaps Socrates–through Plato, of course–meant something relevant to this when he said, “I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Congress, Economics, General Discourse, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt | , , , | 1 Comment

The Associated Press Reports Immunity To Blackwater

By Theo O’Brien

By granting Blackwater bodyguards immunity from prosecution, the State Department may have placed a strong deterrent in the federal investigation of the security contractor’s role in a shooting in Iraq that left seventeen Iraqi civilians dead.

The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.

‘Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,’ said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.(1)

An Iraqi probe investigated Blackwater’s role in the deaths of seventeen civilians earlier this month. The conclusion was that Blackwater’s body guards were unprovoked and fired randomly, this prompted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to call for the company’s immediate departure from Iraq. The FBI is currently involved in its own investigation into the matter but it is reported that several of the Blackwater employees have refused to answer a number of questions citing the recently granted immunity.

[In the pursuit of truth, it is worth mentioning that Fox News has challenged the authenticity of the Associated Press story.]

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Blackwater, Theo O'Brien | , | 1 Comment