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: 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

Signing Statement: National Defense Authorization Act for 2008

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Searchable) (H.R. 4986) along with a signing statement effectively giving himself the power to ignore sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222. Here is a quick summary of these four sections:

§ 841 “established a commission to be known as the `Commission on Wartime Contracting'” that is essentially in charge of investigating defense contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

§ 846 Provides “protection for contractor employees from reprisal for disclosure of certain information” relevant to violations of law regarding such defense contracts.

§ 1079 States that the various heads of Intelligence must deliver requested Intelligence information, within 45 days of such a request, to one of the congressional Committees on Armed Services.

§1222 Prohibits the use of alloted funds for the creation of permanent military bases in Iraq or for the U.S.’s “control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

I’m not quite sure from whence the President claims this authority because he does not explicitly (or implicitly) state why he thinks he has such power. There are however three constitutional provisions that speak directly to this question:
Art. I, § 8, ¶ 12: Congressional Enumerated Powers:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years[…]

This provision vests the power of Military Appropriations specifically in Congress.

Art. I, § 8, ¶ 18: Necessary and Proper Clause:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution [the powers] vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States […]

This provision states (along with Art. I, § 1, ¶ 1) that Congress is the sole legislative body and that it has the power to make laws that it deems necessary and proper to uphold the Constitution.

Art. I, § 7, ¶ 2 & 3: The Presentment Clause:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated […]

This clause lays out the process which a bill must go through to become a law.

The first provision clearly implies that the President does not have the power to overlook Section 1222 of H.R. 4986. It really doesn’t get any more black and white: the power of military appropriations was vest explicitly and distinctly to Congress and the President’s signing statement is therefore in direct conflict of the Presentment Clause.

As far as the other three sections that the President posits to negate, the language of the Presentment Clause is very clear in stating “If he approve[s of the bill] he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections.” This is not a debate of any kind, I’m simply at a loss. The President assumes the power he does on the basis that he wants it, and not on any Constitutional provision, law, statute, case, precedent, etc…


February 13, 2008 Posted by | Bills, Committee on Oversight, Congress, George W. Bush, House of Representatives, Impeachment, Iraq War, Jon Stewart, Nathan Schmitt, Presidential Vetos, Video | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dennis Kucinich: Dick Cheney Impeachment Resolution (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Yesterday, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich presented the House with a resolution for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney (Video above). House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Democrat) immediately moved to table the resolution, but the motion was shot down by a vote of 251-162, more than half of the votes against tabling were Republican. A summary:

House Democrats on Tuesday narrowly managed to avert a bruising debate on a proposal to impeach Dick Cheney after Republicans, in a surprise maneuver, voted in favor of taking up the measure.

Republicans, changing course midway through a vote, tried to force Democrats into a debate on the resolution sponsored by longshot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.” (1)


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “impeachment is off the table” and Congress is focused on responsibly getting U.S. troops out of Iraq, covering 10 million uninsured children and meeting national priorities long neglected by the Bush administration, said her spokesman Nadeam Elshami.” (1)

November 7, 2007 Posted by | Congress, Dick Cheney, House of Representatives, Impeachment, Nathan Schmitt, Video | , , | 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

The Candidates (Part 2): Ron Paul (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

The second of “The Candidates” series: Republican Texas Representative Ron Paul. Here are his congressional voting records.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Congress, House of Representatives, Nathan Schmitt | , , | Leave a comment

The Candidates (Part 1): Dennis Kucinich (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

From now until the 2008 presidential election, we will be running interviews of the candidates in which they outline their beliefs and positions on relevant issues.

The first of the series: Democratic Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. Here are his congressional voting records.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Congress, House of Representatives | , , | Leave a comment

The People Pay for the War: What Did You Expect?

By Nathan Schmitt

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) hates this ‘misbegotten, stupid, ill-advised’ Iraq war. He won’t even consider President Bush’s latest war funding request until next year. And he wants to tax Americans to pay for it.

“I (David Obey) went to Nancy a week before we did it, and I told her: ‘Nancy, I’m gonna do two things. One of them you’re gonna like, and one of them you’re not,” Obey said. He told her he wouldn’t take up Bush’s funding request for Iraq until next year. “And she said: ‘I like that. What won’t I like?’ ”

She doesn’t like that war tax. ‘We don’t go forward lightly when we’re talking about a tax on all the American people,’ Pelosi said. No problem — Obey will introduce the tax proposal anyway on Tuesday. (1)

Says an article a week ago from the Washington Post.

A war tax huh? Well, it’s certainly not a surprise. I can’t say I’m excited about the possibility of this tax, and I can’t even begin to form an opinion about it because there are so many factors pulling me in every direction.

On one hand, it seems like it’s completely permissible, if not necessary by this argument: The American people are responsible for the war in Iraq. As much as people hate to hear it, and as much as it sounds like I’m ragging on all of us (which I’m not), it’s hard to argue against. If you think we live in a democracy, then it’s pretty straight forward: the decisions of the representative government reflect the values of the people. If you look at the United States (from what is in my opinion a more realistic point of view) as a democratic constitutional republic the same representative argument still holds. In addition to that, it is written into the Declaration of Independence that,

“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards of their future security.” (2)

Don’t think I’m implying support for a government overthrow or anything, this is just to show that the responsibility of the people is no new idea. In addition to that, the government itself is made up the people. There is nothing different about politicians and lawmakers except that they are people put in positions of power their peers.

At the same time, it is true that political figures can misuse power in such a way as to misrepresent the population they supposedly represent. In any case, it completely misses the point to blame at this point. There are countless factors that play into the responsibility for this war and it unrealistic and unfair, not to mention counterproductive, to try to narrow it down to one or two parties.

I guess the point is this: can the society responsible for such an absurdly costly war rightfully deny their economic responsibility to it? Regardless of whose fault it is, the responsibility of the action rests on those who permitted it, as well as those who carried out the actions. I’m not making an assertion either way, just think about it.

October 27, 2007 Posted by | Economics, General Discourse, House of Representatives, Iraq War, Nathan Schmitt, Tax | , , , | Leave a comment

New Children’s Health Care Bill

By Nathan Schmitt

House Democrats are taking another go at a children’s health care bill. There were some minor changes including that

It establishes a firmer eligibility cap at 300 percent of the federal poverty line, just more than $60,000 for a family of four.” (1)

The new version of the bill also intends to ween adults of the program in one year, as opposed to two years from the previous version.

October 25, 2007 Posted by | Congress, Health Care, House of Representatives, Nathan Schmitt, SCHIP | , , , | 1 Comment

President Requests More Money: $45.9 Billion

In a letter to the Speaker of the House, President Bush requested more money from Congress today to fund the war. The request fact sheet is here. He asks for a $45.9 billion dollar amendment to the $150.5 billion pending request (FY2008).

There are some humanitarian allocations in this request such as $794 million for Darfur and Southern Sudan, $385 for humanitarian aide in Africa, etc…. At the same time, keep in mind that the request is in the tens of billions.

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Congress, Economics, George W. Bush, House of Representatives | , , | 1 Comment

What?…Congress votes?…

This is a pretty useful tool. The WaPo’s record of each individual congress person’s votes since the 102nd Congress.

Here is a hyperlinked list of the relevant candidates for the 2008 election:


Joe Biden (Senate)

Hillary Clinton (Senate)

Chris Dodd (Senate)

John McCain (Senate)

Barack Obama (Senate)

House of Representatives

Duncan Hunter (House)

Dennis Kucinich (House)

Ron Paul (House)

Tom Tancredo (House)

October 20, 2007 Posted by | 2008 Election, Congress, House of Representatives | , | Leave a comment