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).

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

Private Security Contractors: Now $4 Billion from the State Department


The New York Times published a story today that explores the drastic increase in State Department spending (federal money) for private security contracts over the past four years, which now stands at a little under $4 Billion. Here is this year’s State Department budget in brief, and here is next years budget as it stands now (recall that Bush requested an additional $45.9 Billion earlier this week).

The largest problem seems to be the lack of ability of the State Department to manage all of these contractors. I discussed this yesterday with respect to a possible private contractor oversight program.

“State Department contracting officials complain that they do not have nearly enough people to properly oversee the more than 2,500 contractors now under their informal command around the world. And a proposal to charge contractors a fee to pay for additional government compliance officers has stalled in the State Department bureaucracy.” (1)

In the past, for the most part officials have done little to try to submit contractors clearly in the wrong to any sort of reasonable justice process. This example stuck out to me:

Congressional investigators say the security bureau has sought to minimize episodes like the shootings of civilians.

‘We are all better off getting this case — and any similar cases — behind us quickly,’ one State Department security official in Iraq wrote to another, after Blackwater guards killed a father of six in Hilla in 2005, according to an internal State Department memo turned over to Congress. He recommended paying the man’s family $5,000.” (1: Page 2)

Monetary compensation of $5,000 for irresponsible behavior that resulted in death hardly seems equitable. In any case, this and similar examples aren’t near this level of contemplation because there first has to be some recognition of accountability before specific terms can be discussed.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Blackwater, Department of State, Economics, Iraq War, Private Security Contractors | , , , | Leave a comment