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).

Advertisements

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

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

Hate Begets Hate: A White House Story

By Nathan Schmitt

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued this statement today:

This morning President Bush called President Karzai of Afghanistan to express his deepest sympathies regarding the horrendous suicide bombing in Baglan province yesterday. The cold blooded killers targeted innocent schoolchildren and lawmakers who were there to celebrate the opening of a new sugar factory.

The President said that the murderous act reminds all of us about the brutality of the enemy we are facing. He said that their hearts are filled with evil and they only see with hate. The President told President Karzai that America cares deeply about the Afghan people and he urged him to remain strong.” (1)

This is a sensitive subject to touch on, and although I think they need to, I understand why the mainstream news media don’t cover it. This being said, I think the statement speaks for itself for the most part. I would just like to look briefly at one of the statements.

He said that their hearts are filled with evil and they only see with hate.” (1)

Now, I’d like to make it extremely clear that I’m not diminishing the horrible acts of terrorism or justifying terrorists in ANY sense. There is, however, a limit of rationality in judging such people. Such a claim as Bush’s presents a myriad of philosophical problems from fundamental human nature (“their hearts are filled with evil”) to subjectivity with regard to separation of individual personalities–that is to say, the independent existence of conscious personalities that make it impossible for the self to know the true intentions of the other.

It doesn’t take anything beyond rudimentary philosophical analysis to see that this claim by Bush is anything but legitimate. Perhaps his intentions are good, but his words are certainly not fair, no matter who they’re directed towards.

November 8, 2007 Posted by | Afghanistan, Dana Perino, General Discourse, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt, Terrorism | , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween: “It’s a Liberal Holiday!” (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is just so ridiculous on so many counts. Not only does Sean Hannity misunderstand what it means to have liberal views, but he completely disregards the aspect of giving of Halloween (though it is not the main purpose). Hannity asserts that Halloween is a liberal holiday because it teaches children to ask for hand outs. I would argue that anyone who thinks the way to overcome economic difficulties is simply through handouts does not exhibit liberal views.

Just another example of disingenuous discourse in the mainstream media. Not only does this pale by any means of comparison to other things going on in the country and world, but it is hardly a discussion at all; it is simply a superficial disagreement and set of misunderstandings.

November 6, 2007 Posted by | General Discourse, Video | , , | Leave a comment

“The Describer”: A Speech About a Speech

By Nathan Schmitt


The President gave a speech today, but earlier in the day he gave a preview. I thought this was rather odd on multiple counts:

President Bush:”I wanted to highlight the speech I’m giving today to Heritage. I’m concerned that there are some who have lost sight of the fact that we’re at war with extremists and radicals who want to attack us again. Part of the speech is to remind people that even though we haven’t been attacked since September the 11th, there’s still an enemy out there that would like to attack us.” (1)

First and most trivial, this is another example of the President as “The Describer.” That was just kind of funny. The content of this introductory paragraph was a bit less funny. I have a hard time reading the President: does he genuinely believe that people have forgotten about the possibility of terrorist attacks as he claims or is there another motive? It would be unfair for me to say either way since I’m by no means George W. Bush so I won’t.

In addition to that, I would suggest that this is a scare tactic. It’s impossible to determine whether or not the use of this tactic was consciously motivated; surely, it would be rather cynical–and more importantly, irrelevant–to assume so. Regardless of the intent of the President, it has the same effect on the population. Rather than basing an argument for war on rationale and logic, scare tactics seek to use emotions overtake one’s logic.

Please recognize that this is not a criticism of the President himself. Such examples of non-rational, non-logical discourse must be pointed out regardless of where they appear.

November 1, 2007 Posted by | General Discourse, George W. Bush, Iraq War | , , , | Leave a comment

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)

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

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