The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

Another Possible Mayor of the United States?

By Theo O’Brien

There is some talk of a possible run for president in 2008 by Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s current mayor and founder of Bloomberg L.P. Earlier in the year, Mr. Bloomberg switched his party affiliation from Republican to Independent, which drew a great deal of attention from the media. Though he denied any intention to run next year, numerous people that have talked to him insist that he had not stopped considering it, and with his billionaire status he is quite capable of waiting it out, even past the primary elections.

At No. 142 on the Forbes list of the word’s richest people, Bloomberg is worth at least $5.5 billion. He controls a private company that provides real-time financial data to money managers and others around the globe. And he has built a news-gathering organization that employs more than 1,000 reporters.” (1)

The most recent signal that the mayor is moving toward entering the race for the Whitehouse is his reported meetings with a previous United States ambassador to the U.N.

The sessions, which were confirmed by multiple sources, have been conducted with Nancy Soderberg, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a Clinton Administration foreign policy adviser. One source described her as “Bloomberg’s Condi.”

A range of topics have been discussed, from non-proliferation to the defense budget, with a specific focus on the war in Iraq.

These sessions dramatically contradict Bloomberg’s denials that he is planning to run for president. The one aspect of his possible candidacy that is considered missing is foreign policy experience. These strategy sessions with Soderberg seem clearly designed to fortify that weakness.” (1)

Bloomberg, himself, has not admitted publicly to having any plans to run next year but with his vast financial resources he poses an interesting possibility and a plausible threat to the candidates currently leading in the polls.

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November 24, 2007 Posted by | 2008 Election, Theo O'Brien | , | Leave a comment

Somalia Is Still Down

By Theo O’Brien

The eastern African country has continued to struggle finding stability after the United Nations’ forces withdrew in 1995. The government’s military—with aid from its ally, Ethiopia—has attempted to suppress a strong insurgency, but is suffering heavy casualties and fierce resistance. The insurgents are suspected to be mostly composed of the former government in Somalia: the Union of Islamic Courts. The Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has asked his citizens to aid the troops countering the insurgency.

‘My government is doing all it can to save lives but people in the neighbourhood must also fight the al-Shabab militants hiding among them,’ President Yusuf told a news conference in Nairobi.” (1)

The conflict has created a large amount of refugees and a huge problem for the humanitarian aid organizations attempting to stave off more civilian casualties.

The worst humanitarian crisis in Africa may not be unfolding in Darfur, but here, along a 20-mile strip of busted-up asphalt, several top United Nations officials said.

A year ago, the road between the market town of Afgooye and the capital of Mogadishu was just another typical Somali byway, lined with overgrown cactuses and the occasional bullet-riddled building. Now it is a corridor teeming with misery, with 200,000 recently displaced people crammed into swelling camps that are rapidly running out of food.” (2)

Somalia has seemed to receive far less aid and attention than the similarly tragic crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan—though U.N. officials are claiming that Somalis in a worse situation.

Top United Nations officials who specialize in Somalia said the country had higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and fewer aid workers than Darfur, which is often publicized as the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and has taken clear priority in terms of getting peacekeepers and aid money. (2)

The reason for the inattention to Somalia’s on-going disaster is that the country has been in crisis for many years, compared to Darfur’s relatively new tragedy, says Eric Laroche, the head of United Nations humanitarian operations in Somalia.

If this were happening in Darfur, there would be a big fuss. But Somalia has been a forgotten emergency for years.” (2)

I am not contending that either crisis is more important—obviously, both are incredibly disturbing situations—but simply attempting to draw awareness to the alarming circumstances facing the Somali people.

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Humanitarian Crisis, Theo O'Brien | , | Leave a comment

Oregon Football: Dennis Dixon out for the Season

By Nathan Schmitt

Star quarterback and first pick for the Heisman (even as I’m writing this, after the post-loss update) went down Thursday at Arizona with a torn ACL. Dixon will be out for the season, a truly tragic turn of events not only for University of Oregon but all of college football.

And there wasn’t a more telling moment in the stadium than watching his expression change from a kid who was home free — paydirt — to a player who was now going to have to explain to America how he felt about fading out of the Heisman Trophy race.

So how does Dixon feel: “I don’t really care about that; I never really cared about it.”

Then he talked about being a good teammate, and cheering for his friends.

It was perfect. And succinct. And telling. But after you looked around Tucson, absorbing the evening, there was one clear thought — is there really a college player worth more to his team anywhere in America?

Consider that Oregon’s beautiful offense was turned into a stumbling, sputtering mess on Thursday. Not because Arizona stopped it. But because Dixon left the field in the second quarter.

[…]

In the end, though, the kid capable of winning this game despite all the mistakes was out of uniform in the second quarter. He was ushered into the locker room. His father, Dennis Sr., followed. Inside, there was some shouting, and crying, and later, the father said, “He’s really taking it hard.”

Yet, in the second half, here was Dixon on the sideline, smiling. Cheering. Clapping on third down. He was rooting for Brady Leaf, the guy who stole Dixon’s starting job last season.

When it was done — and it feels done — Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said: ‘When a guy like that goes down, it’s very difficult. I feel bad for Dennis.’” (1)

I would just like to point out the amazing level of maturity and the equal amount of respect he deserves for how he has handled this extremely unfortunate situation.

This is truly a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. I guess in some sad way you could say “Well, it’s good for the other teams.” But is it? What good is a win against a disorganized, emotionally distraught team who is without their leader and half of their explosive offensive line? Quantitatively, it gives the other teams a better chance at winning a national title. But where is the glory, or even the respect, in winning a race against a crying kid on crutches?

Here is the list of the seven injured players i referred to:

Dennis Dixon #10

Jonathan Stewart #28 (Status questionable)

Jeremiah Johnson #24

Brian Paysinger #19

Cameron Colvin #3

John Bacon #40 (Defensive Line)

A.J. Tuitele #34 (Defensive Line) (2)

Dixon, we all wish you a quick and full recovery and thank you for the amazing season. It’s not even a question of how Oregon will do in the BCS, we just wish you and the rest of the injured players a good recovery.

November 17, 2007 Posted by | College Football, General Discourse, Nathan Schmitt | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bush Vetos Spending Bill

By Nathan Schmitt

Yesterday, President Bush vetoed a $600 Billion spending bill after its passing through congress. Here is a summary:

The bill Bush vetoed Tuesday includes about $150 billion to run those departments and more than $450 billion in mandatory spending on Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health care programs for the elderly and poor, according to the House Appropriations Committee.” (1)

This is the text of “Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.”

The President was very critical of congress to the point of resulting to ad hominem name-calling:

The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far, it’s acting like a teenager with a new credit card.” (1)

I think this next part speaks for itself:

At the same time, Bush signed a $459 billion annual Defense Department spending bill that increases the Pentagon’s budget 9.5 percent to fund operations other than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although that legislation also includes what he calls unnecessary spending, he said he considers it important to deliver money to the military in a time of war.” (2)

I don’t think something like this can go without mention. This is blatantly trying to create a causal connection between two things where it is really a correlational relationship.

If i were to donate money to a school’s athletic program, I wouldn’t claim to be helping the academics. Both serve their purposes but are not effectually equivalent.

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Economics, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt, Presidential Vetos | , , | Leave a comment

This is Just Absurd but Funny (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Nathan Schmitt, Video | , | Leave a comment

The Racial Divide: Socio-Economic Inequality NOT a Thing of the Past

By Nathan Schmitt

A study released today by the Economic Mobility Project

In brief, trends show that median family incomes have risen for both black
and white families, but less so for black families. Moreover, the intergenerational
analysis reveals a significant difference in the extent to which parents are able
to pass their economic advantages onto their children. Whereas children of white
middle-income parents tend to exceed their parents in income, a majority of black
children of middle-income parents fall below their parents in income and economic
status.
” (1)

This is also rather disturbing, considering how much people think that the playing field has leveled out in the past few decades:

Startlingly, almost half (45 percent) of black children whose parents were
solidly middle class end up falling to the bottom of the income distribution,
compared to only 16 percent of white children. Achieving middle-income
status does not appear to protect black children from future economic
adversity the same way it protects white children.
” (1)

The L.A. Daily News has a good summary of the data (The graph above shows this data visually):

“Median incomes for white families, with wage earners in their 30s, increased from $50,262 in 1974 to $60,000 in 2004, when adjusted for inflation. That is an increase of 19percent.

Median incomes for black families of the same age group increased from $31,833 in 1974 to $35,010 in 2004, a gain of 10percent.

Median incomes for white men in their 30s were relatively stagnant, dropping slightly from $41,885 in 1974 to $40,081 in 2004.

Median incomes for white women of the same age group increased more than fivefold, from $4,021 in 1974 to $22,030 in 2004.

Median incomes for black men in their 30s dropped, from $29,095 in 1974 to $25,600 in 2004.

Median incomes for black women of the same age group nearly doubled, from $12,063 in 1974 to $21,000 in 2004.” (2)

Here are a couple of other studies that relate to this one in that they deal with the economic mobility of specific demographics. They’re really short and very interesting. It seems that America’s opportunity isn’t quite as equal as we would like to think.

In summary:

One reason for the growing disparity: Incomes among black men have actually declined in the past three decades, when adjusted for inflation. They were offset only by gains among black women.

Incomes among white men, meanwhile, were relatively stagnant, while those of white women increased more than fivefold.” (3)

 

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Economics, Income Gap, Nathan Schmitt | , | Leave a comment

Crooks and Liars: John Amato on Air (Live)

By Nathan Schmitt

Creator of blog Crooks and Liars is on air right now (Click to listen live) about “Sunday morning political talkfests.”

November 11, 2007 Posted by | Blogs, Nathan Schmitt | , | Leave a comment

Senate Confirms Mukasey

By Theo O’Brien

The senate has moved to confirm Michael Mukasey to the position of attorney general, despite heavy skepticism by Democrats over the issue of waterboarding—the controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning.

“After daylong negotiations, the Senate opened debate Thursday night on President Bush’s nomination of Mukasey, a retired federal judge, to replace Alberto Gonzales.

To win confirmation, Mukasey has promised to enforce any anti-waterboarding law passed by Congress but his Democratic opponents say he is being disingenuous because any such law would likely be vetoed by President Bush.” (1)

November 10, 2007 Posted by | Congress, Michael Mukasey, Senate, Theo O'Brien | , , | Leave a comment

Department of Peace and Non-Violence

By Nathan Schmitt

The past February, Dennis Kucinich introduced H.R. 808–Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act. The bill is currently going through subcommittees of the House, though rather slowly at this point, and gathering co-sponsors of which there are currently 67. Here is a summary of the bill:

Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act – Establishes a Department of Peace and Nonviolence, which shall be headed by a Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Sets forth the mission of the Department, including to: (1) hold peace as an organizing principle; (2) endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; and (3) develop policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict.

Establishes in the Department the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Peace and Nonviolence, which shall provide assistance and make recommendations to the Secretary and the President concerning intergovernmental policies relating to peace and nonviolent conflict resolution.

Transfers to the Department the functions, assets, and personnel of various federal agencies.

Establishes a Federal Interagency Committee on Peace and Nonviolence.

Establishes Peace Day. Urges all citizens to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace on such day.” (1)

November 8, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

On Strike: Writers Guild of America (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Writers Guild of America went on strike earlier this week asking for a royalties increase on media sales. Above is a video, albeit a crude one, that outlines the general terms of the strike. Here is a page of the latest news on the strike. According to United Press International,

Anxiety is rippling through the U.S. entertainment industry as it appears the Writers Guild of America strike could stretch into 2008.

Hopes for a fast resolution are wilting as neither the WGA, nor the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television producers has made a clear attempt to revive talks since negotiations broke down Sunday night, Variety.com said Wednesday.” (1)

The affected shows range far and wide from daily shows such as “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” and “The Late Show with David Letterman” to series such as “24” and “Lost” will go into re-runs and not finish out their seasons, respectively.

November 8, 2007 Posted by | Nathan Schmitt, Video, WGA Strike | , , | Leave a comment