The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

Signing Statement: National Defense Authorization Act for 2008

By Nathan Schmitt

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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…

Wow…

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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

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

Keith Olbermann: Harsh Criticism of the Bush Administration (Video)

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Last night, Keith Olbermann had some very harsh words for President Bush regarding the Bush Administration’s use of water boarding, among other issues. He directly addresses the President. Very harsh.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.” (1)

Also, Olbermann talks about former U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin:

“‘Waterboarding is torture,’ Daniel Levin was to write.

Charged — as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday — with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora’s box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism “Enhanced Interrogation,” Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them… was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be water-boarded.” (2)

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Countdown with Keith Olbermann, George W. Bush, Nathan Schmitt, Torture, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Bush Defends Mukasey, While Attacking Congress

By Theo O’Brien

 

Click Here for Speech (External Video)

In a speech today (original source) before the Heritage Foundation, President Bush plead for the confirmation of Michael Mukasey while scolding Congress for what he considers a lack of progress and support for the troops deployed overseas.

 

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey’s recently struggled with Democrats over his definition of torture. In his speech the President rose to the defense of his nominee reasoning that the acceptance of Mukasey as Attorney General is key to America’s safety against terrorism.

 

The job of the attorney general is essential to the security of America. The attorney general is the highest ranking official responsible for our law enforcement community’s efforts to detect and prevent terrorist attacks here at home.” (1)

In response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s continued pressure for a more revealing insight into the legality of the United States’ interrogation techniques by Mr. Mukasey, the President had this to say:

Finally, he does not want any statement of his to give the terrorists a window into which techniques we may use and which ones we may not use. That could help them train their operatives to resist questioning and withhold vital information we need to stop attacks and save lives.” (1)

President Bush recently vocalized his disapproval of Congress, chastising the fact that they have not sent him a War Spending Bill yet. Today, he again called on Congress to allocate the funds necessary to fund the Iraq war.

 

Congress is also stalling on the emergency war supplemental to fund our troops on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq. This crucial bill includes funds for bullets and body armor, protection against IEDs and mine-resistant ambush-protective vehicles.” (1)

He also spoke adamantly of the need to pass other bills to support the troops fighting in Iraq currently, and those who have returned.

Congress also needs to pass the Department of Defense spending bill, as well as a funding bill for our nation’s veterans.

There are reports that congressional leaders may be considering combining the funding bills for our military and our veterans together with a bloated labor, health and education spending bill.

It’s hard to imagine a more cynical ploy than holding funding for our troops and our wounded warriors hostage in order to extract $11 billion in wasteful Washington spending.” (1)

This has been the latest of a string of pleas by the President for financial support of the war, highlighted by his recent criticism of Congress as having “the worst record for a Congress in 20 years.” (2)

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Congress, George W. Bush, Iraq War, Theo O'Brien | , , , | 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

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

California Fires: Radio Address (Audio)

By Nathan Schmitt


In his weekly radio address, the President talked about the fires in California and what the federal government is doing. The President’s radio address is embedded below.

(1)

October 27, 2007 Posted by | George W. Bush, Natural Disasters | , , | Leave a comment

Whatup Dogg?

By Nathan Schmitt


I had heard of this a while ago but just came across it again and was amused by its mild absurdity. It’s good to know that federal money, time, and at the very least, web space goes into maintaining the website of the President’s dog. Oh well, this is no serious or meaningful criticism I just thought it was funny.

Barney, the President’s Scottish Terrier, was born on September 30, 2000. Although just six years old, Barney has starred in nine ‘films’ and has lived quite an exciting life…Barney’s Biography” (1)

Cute dog though…

October 25, 2007 Posted by | George W. Bush | , , | Leave a comment

President Declares Major Disaster: San Diego Fires


This morning President Bush declared the fires of San Diego a serious disaster. He announced the availability of federal aid those affected in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.” (1)

This is a tragic disaster to be sure. Here are the estemated numbers as of this morning:

More than 900,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in the face of the fires.

More than 20 fires have scorched 400,000-plus acres from the Mexican border to northern Los Angeles County and inland into the San Bernardino Mountains since the weekend.” (2)

To all those affected, and especially all of my friends who live in San Diego, I hope the fires stop soon and immediate and effective action is taken to remedy this situation.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | George W. Bush, Natural Disasters | , , , , | 1 Comment