The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

Deaf Claque is Back: Obama Administration Resources

By Nathan Schmitt

Inauguration 01.20.2009

With the dawn of a new administration and an exciting new political atmosphere, the Deaf Claque will again start to be updated regularly.

I’d like to start by providing a few new resources that I believe had enormous potential to be incredibly informative and will hopefully encourage genuine political discourse:

1. White House Blog: This is the newly established blog for the White House. Its priorities are as follows:

Communication: This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated.

Transparency: The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review.

Participation: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it” (1)

2. State Department Blog: Statement of purpose:

Blogs.state.gov offers the public an alternative source to mainstream media for U.S. foreign policy information. This blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials” (2)

3. Congress’ Daily Digest: Congress’ Daily Digest provides a daily summary of the events of congress and is, of course, updated at the end of each day. It is separated into two parts: the House and the Senate. This is not RSS subscribable but hopefully it will be soon.

4. Speaker of the House’s Blog (Pelosi): For a more detailed look at the House. Updated multiple times daily by both Karina Newton (Pelosi’s Director of New Media) and Speaker Pelosi.

This seems to be a huge step in the right direction and though this is still a new direction, I hope the Obama Administration’s focus on transparency and public accountability is developed and utilized to its full potential. The Judiciary has yet to update its website but hopefully this will take place soon.

If you’re interested in learning how to stay informed with minimal effort let me know and I’ll show you how to set up a blog newsfeed so the news you want comes to you instead of having to search it out (this is mostly for my friends around these geographical parts).

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January 22, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Department of State, General Discourse, Hillary Clinton, House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Nathan Schmitt, Senate, The Media, White House | 3 Comments

Obama’s Statement on the FISA Bill

I hope this isn't an accurate metaphor for Obamas campaign

Yesterday after hearing about and reading through the FISA bill, I sent an email to Senator Obama/ his campaign. It basically said that I supported him and was very disappointed to see that he voted in favor of the bill.

I also said that though his message is of empowering the people and encouraging them to participate in the political process, his vote had the opposite affect on most that I’ve talked to. It’s one thing to be let down by the Bush Administration, but it’s something else to be let down by someone you support.

Here’s the message I received back; Obama’s statement in response to criticism for his vote:

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act. Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I voted in the Senate three times to remove this provision so that we could seek full accountability for past offenses. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.

I, sir, am not convinced. The bill is considerably better, but taking the opportunity of just compensation for losses from American citizens is just not acceptable, no matter how much better it is than the original bill.

If a car dealer asks $2 Million for a Hyundai, I’m not going to pay $500,000 for it just because it’s a lot better than $2 Million.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bills, Congress, FISA, General Discourse, Nathan Schmitt, Senate | Leave a comment

Barack Obama Speech: “A More Perfect Union” on Racism

By Nathan Schmitt

Barack Obama speaking on race in Philadelphia, PA at the Constitution Center on March 18, 2008.

I haven’t decided who I’m voting for yet as this campaign has been ridiculous, on all sides, to say the least. However, I very much appreciate Barack Obama’s willingness to talk about race in a mature manner. There hasn’t been much maturity in politics or the news media lately.

March 19, 2008 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Race Issues, Video | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Primaries

By Nathan Schmitt

I thought it might be helpful, since I haven’t posted in awhile, to show that I’m alive and give a little bit of useful information at the same time.

As you probably know, the 2008 Presidential Primaries have begun and the processes in Iowa and New Hampshire have already taken place. Here are two helpful sources for Primary data that may help keep you informed in this lengthy process.

CNN has a very well organized page on the Primary results. If you click the states in the picture under the headline “Follow the Primaries and Caucuses,” you will be taken to a data summary of that state.

MSNBC’s page is less organized with respect to hard results but it is better for keeping up with current stories relating to the Primaries.

P.S. The headline picture is intended to put the whole process in perspective. Interpret it as you’d like.

January 9, 2008 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Nathan Schmitt | , | Leave a comment

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.

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

Colbert Denied By Democrats

By Theo O’Brien

Stephen Colbert’s highly publicized attempt to run for Presidency of the United States seems to have come to an abrupt end. The South Carolina Democratic Party decided Thursday that Colbert did not meet the criteria of having a strong chance at winning—possibly because he has only applied to run in South Carolina.

 

One of Colbert’s opponents on the executive council, Charleston Democratic party chairman Waring Howe, defended the decision.

‘Stephen Colbert clearly didn’t qualify under our rules, and it would have been a mistake and wrong to violate our rules,’ he said.” (1)

 

This obstacle in the pundit’s campaign is especially devastating, as he has opted not to run for in the Republican primary citing the $35,000 fee. Maybe revenue from his new book, I Am America (And So Can You!),” will give him the funds he needs to get on the ballot as a Republican.

Additional Commentary by Nathan Schmitt

The [Democratic] party’s executive council met Thursday afternoon in Columbia to decide which candidates met the criteria to be placed on the ballot, and Colbert didn’t make the cut, executive director Joe Werner said.

Colbert has said he will not file for the Republican party ballot because of the $35,000 fee, so the move likely ends his bid to officially run for president in South Carolina.” (1)

This highlights and interesting and probably unintended (by the framers of the constitution, that is) loophole in the democratic system we have developed in the United States. I’m by no means the first to point this out, but I definitely think it’s worth mentioning.

I’ve heard many people say, “The wonderful thing about the U.S. is that anyone can run for President.” This story seems to bring this statement into question. Sure, technically anyone can run as an individual or even through a minor party, but as the current system is set up, can anyone truly believe they have a chance at winning as such a candidate?

That’s not to say that these candidates can’t influence politics; they certainly can in many ways. But, if the two dominant parties filter the candidates in such a way, is it possible to claim and substantiate that anyone can become President? To be fair, the candidates are representative of the respective parties, so it doesn’t seem fair to blame it solely on the parties. But what does this mean about our democratic system as a whole?

November 1, 2007 Posted by | 2008 Election, Nathan Schmitt, Stephen Colbert, Theo O'Brien | , , | 1 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)

and

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

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