Thursday, April 19, 2007

Snarlin' Arlen et al.

Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) did an excellent job of remaining objective in their questioning of AG Alberto Gonzales. While it's easy to argue that these politicians are using Gonzales' testamony as a vehicle to distance themselves from an increasingly unpopular White House, the bottom line is that something funny is going on at the Department of Justice, and the answers are not adding up. They should be commended for doing the right thing and not giving Gonzales a free pass.

Doolittle gets Done

The hits keep on coming for those with connections to the Jack Abramoff to-do. The latest to tiptoe to the edge of the high-dive is northern California Republican Congressman John Doolittle.

The story goes like this:

1. Doolittle's wife creates company as a fundraiser
2. Doolittle hires wife's company to raise funds for Doolittle's 2006 re-election campaign
3. Doolittle's wife charges said re-election campaign 15% of value of donations, nicely funding Doolittle's personal, as well as political, coffers.
4. Doolittle's wife company, and Doolittle himself, have a lot to do with Jack Ambramoff, who has contributed to Doolittle's re-election campaign AND hired wife's company
5. Feds get wise, start investigation
6. Doolittle resigns leadership post on House committee.

For a current resume of events, click here. For background articles, try here and here.

DeTocque wonders if this is the tipping point or just the wake of political corruption. Kudos to Republican House leader John Boehner for forcing Doolittle off the committee. But the larger questions remains: is Doolittle off the committee only because he got caught? Does this merely force the corrupt ones further underground? Will party leaders be forthright in admitting all cases of corruption and removing the guilty (or at least the ones with Virginia farm boys poking around their back yards)? Will the public stand for it?

We know that politicians generally act in concert with their level of nervousness about their chances for re-election. If the Republicans weren't facing such an uphill climb in 2008, would Boehner even care?


DeTocque is off for some loverly RnR to Central America as of tomorrow. Back on April 30.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fundraising Alert on Romney

Regular readers of American DeTocqueville will recall this site's general distaste for the Mitt Romney campaign. And it's not because he's a Mormon. It's because he's a CEO who is more determined to win the presidency than to stand for his true convictions (and we don't know what those would be, because the Mitt is too busy changing his stance to appeal to the conservative base or the his state's population, depending on in which election he's currently running). Insert perfect hair joke here.

But wait! News from this week brings a whisper of potency from Camp Mitt in the form of $21 mil in campaign contributions, which surpassed John McCain's paltry $12 big ones. And that will get you a lot of funny underware. Apologies for cheap-shot Mormon joke.

At this time, DeTocque would like to make a bold prediction: this cold, hard, cash will get Mitt nowhere unless he uses it to take the bus. Based on the article linked above from the, a good chunk of Mitt's funding comes from a Political Action Committee called Eagle PAC. While avoiding direct statements or obvious linkages to the Church of Later-Day Saints, Eagle PAC is essentially a fundraising bully to support Mormon candidates. Problem is, there really aren't that many Mormons, and DeTocque surmises that the politically active ones have already donated large sums. That's all they're willing to turn out their pockets for (and thus risk exposing their funny underware. Sorry again, can't help it).

Compare this with Barack Obama's cash haul, and Mitt is really in trouble. Barack is beginning to cultive a 100,000-strong base, small-donation, fundraising army, which is already giving him tons of cash. Mitt has a small base, large-donation, one-trick pony. Obama's people are nationwide and probably willing to put signs in their front yard. No one will see a Romney sign this side of the Great Salt Lake.

Romney might stick around through a primary or two because he can continue to pay his staff, but his donations might not have much staying power if all that cash doesn't produce a slow, steady uptick in his poll numbers.

Monday, April 9, 2007

GWOT no more

An article from last week's Military Times points out that Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee will no longer be using the term "Global War on Terrorism." In contrast to many of the reader comments at the end of the piece (which make for wonderful reading if you're in the mood to get first-hand evidence of Republican's knack for brainwashing constituents), DeTocqueville heartily applauds this effort, for one simple reason:

It's time we moved on.

The term "Global War on Terrorism" is a political catch-phrase designed to maintain terrorism's omnipresence in today's 24-hour news cycle. It is meaninglessly tossed around by undereducated elected government officials to strike fear into the hearts of those who cannot independently vet today's threat from Islamic extremism.

What's worse, you can't fight a war against something that can't sign a peace treaty.

When Von Clausewitz said that war is the continuation of politics by other means, this isn't what he meant. He was not referring to electoral politics, as is the case with the "War on Terror". He was addressing the failure of international diplomacy. We've had plenty of failure in diplomatic circles, and the time is right for our governments to stop using this generic term to perpetuate fear of imminent, mass casualty attacks amongst the general populace.

Ditching this term is but the first step in the American government owning up to its plethora of mistakes in what begain as a limited conflict against a small group of nomadic Islamic extremists. It is the adminstration's fault for taking UBL's bait in turning the issue into a global cause celebre. Hopefully this is an indication of a radical strategic overhaul, but no one hold their breath just yet...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Nancy's Greater Middle East Initiative

Nancy Pelosi is in the Middle East this week for one reason: to show American voters that the Democratic party favors dialogue with, rather than isolation of, one's diplomatic adversaries. As George Bush has been slow to take up the recommendations of the Iraq study group, Pelosi and her Dem counterparts have seized the opportunity to engage the Syrian government and elements of the Palestinian Authority. She's scheduled to stop in Saudi Arabia, too, but that's most likely because she was just in the neighborhood.

And let's face it, this is solid strategy. Suddenly, every farmer in South Dakota has become an expert on US foreign policy. At least they're starting to pay attention to it, anyway. When talking heads throw around "engage" vs. "isolate" strategies on meaningless, yet highly rated, political talk shows, the US voting public is more educated on these issues now than ever before. Pelosi knows W has awful approval ratings, particularly in the foreign policy arena, and she knows that W favors isolating one's "enemies." She's hoping that voters realize W's diplomatic strategy is poor, and her tour to Syria just might pay dividends at the polls come 2008.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Pelosi in Damascus; Bush Cranky

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lead a congressional delegation to Damascus, and was hailed in one local article as almost an Eva Peron type figure. Her visit with Syrian President Assad ruffled some feathers back home, as Bush blurts out continually insightful passages:

From the treasonous NYT: President George W. Bush criticized Ms. Pelosi’s visit today during a news conference at the White House. He said the visit sent “mixed signals” that “lead the Assad government to believe they are part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact they are a state sponsor of terror”.

But why didn't he make the same fuss when a congressional delegation of three Republicans (Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Joe Pitts, and Frank Wolf) visited Syria met separately with Assad on Sunday ?

This is probably a case of Bush trying to get the publicity associated with attacking Pelosi's ad hoc diplomacy (or just attacking Pelosi ad hoc) and hoping no one would notice the members of his own party sneaking into the country the day before (oops). The White House may have figured that it could claim in hindsight that the "mixed signals" to which it was referring were the multiple congressional delegations. That is, "shoot, we sent over a bunch of Republicans just the day before to deliver our message, so Nancy's just getting in the way and clouding the picture."

Of course, that gets messy when you realize that the administration has gone out of its way in the recent past to say that there's no message to deliver...

In the end, it's clear that the White House now values at least some engagement with its "enemies" but is likely slamming Pelosi's visit to appease the hard-line faction of its base. Hardly seems like a productive strategy.

Monday, April 2, 2007

New DeTocqueville Bio

DeTocque must take pause for a moment to engage in the wonderful world of home renovation, but in the meantime, please note the new bio on our hero, reviewed here.