Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Long, Strange Case of Don Siegelman

The Center for American Progress, Harper's, and even MSNBC have begun giving more coverage to the strange saga of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama. Siegelman was an extremely popular Democratic governor in a Republican state who seemingly was targeted for corruption charges because he was just that: A well-liked Democrat in a Republican state. According to the NY Times, "they [the Siegelman defense] have an affidavit from a lawyer who says she heard a top Republican operative in Alabama boast in 2002 that the United States attorneys in Alabama would “take care” of Mr. Siegelman." The story gets long, twisting, and complicated, and even involves Karl Rove and the U.S. Attorney's office in cohoots; Rove had his hand in this, seemingly, from the beginning.

The Harper's writer ends his story by saying "In the end, however, it’s completely clear that the Siegelman case is about corruption. It’s just unclear that Siegelman is the corrupt party. That charge may come better to rest ultimately in the U.S. attorney’s office." Here in New Jersey, where U.S. Attorney Chris Christie faces similar questioning about his political motivations in issuing subpoenas close to election time and for using his non-partisan office for political gain for Republicans (see multiple Blue Jersey articles), we can relate to a U.S. attorney scandal that involves Bush's cronies going after Democrats.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Neocons Still Driving The Republican Bus?

If one considers neoconservatism as the pernicious branch of conservatism that is marked by a more aggressive, even unilateral, foreign policy, most prevalently manifested in the Bush administration's false justifications to force the U.S. into war in Iraq, then one wonders just how much influence this brand of conservatism still haves in the Republican Party. Watching the latest Republican debate, which was marked by tough talk on Iraq, I am somewhat convinced that a Guiliani, Romney or McCain administration would initiate a war with Iran, despite the fateful lessons we've learned from Iraq. McCain has even been caught on camera singing "Bomb Iran" with glee, hardly the somber political perspective one would expect from a combat veteran.

Conservative columnists like Jonah Greenberg have argued that neoconservatism hasn't existed and is just a political neologism. The way that the Bush administration was usurped by Wolfowitz, Cheney and their unilateral, war-first doctrine with Iraq, however, begs the question of whether neoconservatism still marks Republican foreign policy. If Vice President Cheney's comments on Iran (no nuclear Iran allowed, even if that means invasion) were compared to McCain's, there would be virtually no difference. Neoconservatism doesn't seem to have met its death with Bush administration departures; on the contrary, this brand of conservatism, which is particularly destructive because of its pro-war, aggressive philosophy of foreign policy, is seemingly alive and well in the Republican Party.