Friday, March 31, 2006
But mostly, it is due to recent events. The passing of old friends and people I admire. Not to mention the aging process. I have become keenly aware of how quickly it accelerates post age 50. I am very cognizant of the fact my thought processes are slower than even just a couple of years ago. Cognizant of my aching knees. Of the fact my canoe seems to have gained twenty pounds over the winter. It has all combined to leave me feeling melancholy and, well, elderly.
However, I am taking encouragement from the fact that there are people doing the best work of there lives post 70. One of them is my friend Bob Owens, who at age 73 is about to tackle Michigan's longest river, the Grand. He plans to have canoed the entire length of it by summers end. I don't have a pic of him to post, but just look at Willie's pic and add 50 pounds. That would be a pretty close image.
Speaking of Willie Nelson, he has just released what I believe to be the best album of his long, storied career. YOU DON'T KNOW ME is a tribute to the late song writer Cindy Walker. Walker, who wrote her first hit song (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboy's DUSTY ROADS) at age 12, had hit songs recorded by Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Webb Pierce, and Roy Orbison, to name a few.
Nelson has truly never sounded better. He is a singer's singer. His phrasing is impeccable. Reminiscent of Rosemary Clooney. And remarkably, the voice is still there. And these songs are incredible! My favorites are the title tune (every bit as good as Ray Charles version), and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT, written in 1942. But they are all excellent. I am just enthralled with this album!
I watched THE NOTEBOOK again last night. It reminded me of why James Garner has been my favorite actor since I was a small kid, and he and Jack Kelly played brothers Brett and Bart on MAVERICK. Garner has always been a terrific actor. I loved THE ROCKFORD FILES. And I have seen most of his almost 50 movies. I always thought BARBARIANS AT THE GATE was his best. Until I saw THE NOTEBOOK. He is absolutely brilliant in it. A lot of critics thought he was robbed when he didn't win the academy Award for Best supporting actor for this role. I would have to agree.
Among my other Garner favorites: TWILIGHT (with Paul Newman), 1998; MURPHY'S ROMANCE (with Sally Fields and Jeff Daniels) nominated for Best Actor, 1985; TANK (with Shirley Jones, Jenilee Harrison), 1984; CASTAWAY COWBOY (with Vera Miles, Robert Culp), 1984 (This is my all time favorite family movie. My children and grand children have worn out several copies. Garner is hilarious in this film! If you have kids or grandkids, you gotta rent this one!); SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF (with Walter Brennan and Harry Morgan), 1969: GRAND PRIX (with Eva Marie Saint), 1966: THE GREAT ESCAPE (with Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Charles Bronson), 1963.
Even though I was a huge STAR TREK fan, I have never been a huge William Shatner fan. Until now. Shatner is easily doing the best work of his life right now. His portrayal of Denny Crane on BOSTON LEGAL is just brilliant. Crane is an aging, etcentric, larger than life, superstar lawyer, whose mind and skills have faded with time. He is aware of the fact, but pride and love of the limelight keep him from fading quietly into the night. Because of this, Crane rides a roller coaster of emotions. Over a season and a half, he has developed a sort of father/son relationship with the melancholy, ethically challenged Alan Shore (James Spader). Their relationship is often humorous, sometimes volatile, often poignant. Shatner plays it all with a brilliant blend of pomposity and vunerability. He richly deserved the Emmy he won for this role!
Last year, 36 years after he released his first (and only) album, the kitschy TRANSFORMED MAN, Shatner released a new album. Produced by Ben Folds, and backed by Folds band, HAS BEEN was both a critical and commercial success.
So, I guess there is hope for those of us who are "age challenged." Now if someone would only inform my knees.
I am amazed at the amount of really good music being produced right now! I already discussed Willie Nelson's new album, but there are a couple more I'd like to give a brief mention to:
The Little Willies are Nora Jones' new band. Originally conceived as a Willie Nelson cover band, they have quickly broadened their horizons. Their new album, THE LITTLE WILLIES, has a feel that at once reminds you of Willie, Floyd Kramer, Johnny Gimble and Bob Wills. Nora Jones is easily this decades best vocalist, and she really shines on this album, especially on the song ROLL ON. She sings in a voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin. It is gorgeous and haunting at the same time. I hope they release ROLL ON as a single.
THE LIFE PURSUIT is the new album by Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. This album is quite a departure from the "chamber pop" days. Sans Isobel Campbell and Stuart David, the new album has a much heftier sound, much more uptempo . I really like the songs from this album, which you can hear performed live at NPR's LIVE CONCERT SERIES
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Phyllis Whitten passed away this week in Pontiac MI. She was more than my best friend's mom. She was the person who in many ways helped save a number of troubled young people from themselves. I was one of those young people. At a time when my own parents were clueless how to deal with me, Phyllis knew. She had a knack for offering sage advice without making it seem pushy. She knew how to differentiate between the serious and the merely annoying, and was smart enough to laugh about the latter.
She lived in a small house on Pontiac's east side with her husband and 6 children. The house was always alive, not only with her own brood, but with a constantly changing cast of teens from the neighborhood and church. Phyllis held court from the kitchen table, the ever present coffee cup and cigarette in hand. What she lacked in stature, she made up for with an iron will, determination, and the willingness to thump you on the back of the head if necessary. When you entered her domain, you always felt immediately at home. No matter how tight times were, she was always prepared to feed whatever small army the kids dragged in, and always with good humor. A true rarity, she actually enjoyed the company of teenagers, and even more rare, understood them, right down to the sardonic jokes that flew over other parents heads. She never held you in judgment, rather, she found ways to bring out the good things in you.
Although things slowed down in her senior years, little really changed. A visit to Phyllis' always found her at the dining table, at least one child, grandchild, neighbor, or old friend sitting and chatting. Still holding court, coffee cup and cigarette still in hand.
Phyllis was more than ready to go. She was impatient to. Her health had been failing for years, and she was tired. I realize I should be happy for her, but in my own selfishness, I am allowing myself to be sad. Phyllis Whitten was a force in my life when it really needed one. I shall always be indebted.
For thirty years, Dick Addis was a member of nearly every Michiana household. He came into your home every evening, usually twice, and you kinda felt lost if you missed him. He was OUR weatherman, and he took that job extremely serious.
In many ways, Addis was something of a television pioneer. At a time when TV weather was an afterthought at all but the largest market stations, Addis made local weather his job, not his sidelight. He worked tirelessly at it, and his record was amazing. As a truck driver driving the southern shore of Lake Michigan 6 nights a week, I depended on his forecast. If it disagreed with the National Weather Service's forecast, I always trusted Addis'. He rarely disappointed me!
Perhaps the greatest tribute to Addis is simply this. Both the weatherman at his home station, WNDU, and it's rival, WSBT, are on record as saying Addis is the reason they wanted to become meteorologists when they grew up. What better legacy than that?
As a baby truck driver driving into the Loop six nights a week, there was one radio station I could listen to without ever having to change a channel. Clear channel WGN in Chicago. For the next 10 years I had three night time companions. Radio personalities Bob Collins and Milt Rosenberg, and De Paul Blue Demons basketball. I became a huge De Paul fan, even risking life and limb to root for them at the ACC when they played ND. And the reason I was such a big fan was simple. Coach Ray.
It was simply impossible not to love Ray Meyer. The sweet personality, the boyish, impish grin, his obvious love for his "kids" and for the game. Ray Meyer brought out the best in his players, and in his city. He went from being the captain of the Notre Dame basketball team to coach at De Paul, spent parts of four decades at the job, including winning a national championship. He then spent another decade as the analyst on De Paul basketball broadcasts. For fifty years, Ray Meyer was the face of De Paul University. He brought the college to national attention, and watched with pride as it grew not only into a basketball power, but a world class academic institution. Ray Meyer was loved not only by basketball fans, but an entire city. Deservedly so.
In other news....
TSHSMOM should love this. Perhaps the biggest upset in NCAA history took place last night. Not in the basketball tourney, which has seen a plethora of upsets itself, but in the hockey tourney. Holy Cross, a school that offers no athletic scholarships and was seeded last in the tourney, beat and eliminated #1 Minnesota last night, 4-3 in OT! Chalk up one for the true student athletes! The game was apparently so exciting that my deathly ill son called and woke me up to tell me about it. Even better, it took place on the home ice of arch rival North Dakota, in front of a record semifinal tourney crowd. Congrats to the Crusaders of Holy Cross!
Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Roast Chicken - Cajun Style
Saturday, March 18, 2006
RANDOM ACTS OF THINKING
COOL NEW SITE!
Our friend Karen has started a cool new site called Crazy Canuck Critics Corner. The goal: View and critque all of the American Film Institute's 100 Top American films of all time. It is really a nice site, although it is clear her tastes and mine don't coincide at all. Hated the FRENCH CONNECTION, but loved SINGING IN THE RAIN?
The AFI has a really nice site. I especially like the TOP 100 MOVIE QUOTES. My current favorite: "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Auntie Mame, 1958
It's tourney time for NCAA winter sports! Which means lots and lots of people running around with cell phones open, checking scores and brackets. Not to mention the pulling of hair, rending of clothing and nashing of teeth. I don't ever remember a weekend with so many huge upsets.
In hockey, the WCHA conferance tourney has seen two huge upsets, with the nations #2 team, Wisconsin, losing to North Dakota, and the nations #1 team Minnesota, losing to unranked St. Cloud State. No, that is not a misprint. Which leaves Michigan as a bubble team for the NCAA tourney. Should St. Cloud somehow pull off another big upset and beat North Dakota, they would get an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney. Which might leave the Wolverines out of the tourney for the first time in over a decade and a half!
Meanwhile gamblers and bracket mavens have to be beside theselves. Seven major upsets in the first two days of the NCAA Basketball tourney! Some just unbelievable. Iowa blows a 17 point lead and looses to tiny Northwest State U. of Natchitoches, La. Michigan State losses to George Mason. Bradley beats Kansas. The list goes on!
The Cajun theme continues at THE CHURCH POTLUCK with Jambalaya the featured recipe!
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
WHY I AM SO F***ING ANGRY!!!!!
Lately, I have been an explosion waiting to happen! One minute I can be my normal, charismatic, jocular self; the next minute I'll blow like Mt. St. Helens! My daughter has seen it. The kid who tried to pass my semi on the right as I was making a right hand turn certainly saw it! For that matter, anyone who was within 6 blocks of downtown Goshen heard it in all it's graphic, profane glory. The latest blow up came Sunday morning, when I stormed out of a breakfast meeting with my two closest friends after hearing one racially insensitive remark too many.
While I have been aware of this anger seething just below the surface for a while now, I hadn't been able to quite put my finger on it's source. I thought maybe Dubya and his misadministration, but while that explains this feeling of loathing I've had for the last 5 years, it doesn't explain this underlying rage. My finances currently suck, but hell, been there before and always survived with my humor intact! It wasn't until watching a brilliant performance by James Spader on BOSTON LEGAL last night that I realized why I am so angry. Spader's character (Alan Shore) says everything I have had on my mind so brilliantly, you would think the show's writers had been following me around for months. It turns out, my fellow citizens, that what I am really angry at is YOU!
The scene is this. Alan Shore is defending his secretary on income tax evasion charges. She has protested what she views as an affront to her war hero grandfather by returning her tax form blank, save for a post it note with the words "stick it" written on it. You can see Spader's brilliant performance HERE. Just click on "Stick It closing arguments". The following is the transcript of the scene:
Alan Shore's closing argument:
Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.
Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.
Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.
And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't.
In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.
There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people seem to notice.
Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest.
Stop for a second and try to fathom that.
At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you are wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.
This, in the United States of America. This in the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?
*Alan sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge*
Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.
Alan: Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.
Judge Sanders: Please get out of the chair.
Alan: Actually, I'm sick and tired.
Judge Sanders: Get out of the chair!
Alan: And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled unAmerican.
U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Evidently, it's speech time.
Alan: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say "Stick it"!
U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Objection!
Alan: I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it. They're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!
Judge Sanders: Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.
Alan: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29 year old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism."
Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."
I know we are all afraid, but the Bill of Rights - we have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her. (end)
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what pisses me off so! That the citizens of this country have so easily given in to their fears, and allowed their principles and freedoms to be trampled on. We let the terrorist win, with out so much as a whimper. We've put on a great show of sending kids off to foreign lands to be killed in the name of freedom, but truth is, the war was lost when we allowed a few terrorists to cow us into abandoning our principles.
So tread lightly around me. You can never tell when I might "go postal!"
Friday, March 10, 2006
THE MARK OF THE BEAST, OR JUST SIMPLY ORWELLIAN?
The BBC World Service did a story this week about a company in Cleveland that has implanted microchip security devices in the arms of its employees. These chips allow a person access to those areas of the business they are authorized to visit. The company compares it to having your own personal barcode. They tout this as the wave of the future. No searching through your billfold for that credit card, just wave your arm in front of a reader to buy that gas or those groceries. Kidnapped, no problem. This technology will allow the police to track your every move.
Does this scare the shit out of anyone but me? Conceivably, this technology would allow your employer and the government to follow virtually every move you make. Thinking about a mental health day? Better not go anywhere but the pharmacy of doctor's office. Unhappy with the president's performance? Better not say anything. The government knows you met your husband's best buddy at the Motel 6 last week. And on and on. The possibilities of abuse here are so obvious it amazes me that anyone would allow themselves to be "chipped" Frankly, I don't want or need Big Brother looking over my shoulder.
ON A BRIGHTER NOTE...
All the reviews are in, and it appears that Jon Stewart was a smashing success as Oscar host. My favorite lines:
This is the first time I have seen this many stars in one place and didn't have to pay $500 for a Democratic fund raiser! And the stars are excited too! This is the first time many of them have ever voted for somebody who won!
"Good Bye and Good Night" and "Capote" are both movies about hard hitting journalists who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. Obviously, these are period pieces.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Three great Americans passed away this week. Two, tragically before their time. Each made major contributions to American society and culture. They will be missed!
Gordon Parks was one of the last of a nearly extinct breed, the Renaissance man. He rose to fame as a photographer for LIFE magazine. For three decades he chronicled fashion, poverty in America, and the civil rights movement. He was also a noted classical and jazz composer, a novelist, and the first major black film director in Hollywood. His films included THE LEARNING TREE (1969, which he adapted from his own novel, directed, and scored), SHAFT (1971), SHAFT'S BIG SCORE (1972), THE SUPER COPS (1974), LEADBELLY (1976), SOLOMAN NORTHROP'S ODYSSEY (1984). He also appeared as an actor in a number of films, including last year's HOW TO EAT WATERMELON IN WHITE COMPANY (AND ENJOY IT). Gordon Parks passed away this week at age 93.
Kirby Puckett was simply an amazing baseball player. He led the Minnesota Twins to two World Series championships, won 6 gold gloves, and had a lifetime batting ave. of .318. Affectionately known as "Puck" (as much for his body shape as last name), he had a wonderfully infectious smile, and was famously accessible to both media and fans. He was easily one of the most loved players in the history of the game. He loved the twin cities, and turned down very lucrative contract offers to play on the coasts in order to stay in Minnesota for far less pay. He was stricken with glaucoma and forced to retire from baseball at the age of 35.
Puckett's life spiraled out of control after his retirement. A nasty, very public divorce damaged his reputation. A woman filed assault charges claiming he groped her in a restaurant (he was later acquitted). He fell into depression, and, against the wishes of the Twins ownership, resigned his vice presidents job and moved to Arizona, where he lived a hermit like existence for years. His friends, including Twins owners Carl and Eloise Pohlad, worried as his weight ballooned out of control.
But there were recent signs the old Kirby was making a comeback. He showed up to play in Harmon Killebrew's charity golf outing looking much more fit, and confided to Killebrew and others that he was taking better care of himself. He was much more his old gregarious self, and announced to friends he was engaged to be married in June.
It was game 6 of the 1991 World Series against the Braves where Puckett burned his name into the annals of baseball lore. After robbing Ron Gant with a series saving circus catch late in the game, Puckett led off the 11th inning with a walk off homer. The Twins went on to win the series, and Kirby's place in baseball lore was insured.
Puckett died Monday of a massive stroke. He is survived by his two adopted children, Kirby Jr., and Catherine.
Dana Reeve taught us all a lesson in courage. Not only did the singer/actress put her career on hold to care for her invalid husband after his riding accident, she founded and worked tirelessly for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. The foundation has become a major funder of research that develops treatment and cures for spinal injuries and degenerative disorders.
Ms. Reeve died of cancer this week at the age of 44.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
GETTING THEIR MONEY'S WORTH, ODDS AND ENDS
THEIR MONEY'S WORTH
Even better than a baseball double header, Yale and Union fans were treated to 2 1/3 hockey games for the price of one! In the longest game in NCAA history, Yale upset Union 3-2 in FIVE overtimes Saturday night. The game, which started at 7 pm and ended at 1:10 am, had an actual playing time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 35 seconds.
ODDS AND ENDS
This is the reason I don't buy Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream more often. I have just consumed an entire quart of KARAMEL SUTRA while sitting here at the computer! DAMN, this stuff is good!
Chris Matthews redeemed himself a bit in my eyes Friday night. Asked to speak at Westminster College in Missouri in honor of the 60th anniversary of Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech there, Matthews spoke of the courage it takes to convey a warning no one wants to hear, and the courage it takes to heed it. He used three examples:
In the 1930's, with WWI still fresh in people's memories, nobody wanted to hear Churchill's warnings about the rising power of European fascism and Hitler's Germany. Britain and France failed to heed his warning. The result was WWII.
In the war weary world of 1946, nobody wanted hear Churchill's warning of an "Iron Curtain" enveloping Europe. Truman was so outraged he offered to transport Stalin to the US to rebut Churchill's charges. Yet, the Western world did heed the warning, and took steps to isolate and restrain Stalin and the Soviet Union. As a result, WWIII never happened, and the "Iron Curtain" eventually fell of it's own dead weight.
In the hysteria that followed 9/11, nobody wanted to hear the warnings of former President Jimmy Carter, former President George H. Bush, his National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, or former Secretary of State James Baker. Nobody wanted to hear words like quagmire, insurgency, civil war. Especially not President George W. Bush and his advisors. So here we are, three years later, bogged down in an endless war of attrition. Iraq is on the verge of sectarian civil war, and has replaced Afghanistan as the primary breeding and training ground for terrorists who will be a threat to our security for the foreseeable future and beyond.
I gotta admit, Matthews earned some points with me for that one!
I suddenly feel as if I am living in Bizzarro World! In the past few days, I have found myself defending George W. Bush and Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, two men I generally loathe. Now Matthews.
If you will excuse me, I have to go find a stiff wire brush and a box of 20 Mule Team Borax. I feel dirty!
Friday, March 03, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, AND OTHER THINGS THAT MAKE ME CRY
Between Mardi Gras and Brownie, New Orleans was back in the national conscious this week. The Brownie tapes finally place the blame for the disaster that followed the disaster clearly where it belongs. Ahem, Mr. Bush and Mr. Chertoff. And Mardi Gras brought media attention back to the city and it's continued travails, it's suffering under the continued incompetence of administration of Bush Inc.
New Orleans native Mac Revenac, a.k.a. Dr. John, eloquently explains why ALL of the Big Easy must be rebuilt HERE
BIGEZBEAR, our friend from New Orleans, has the perfect take on "the Brownie Tapes" HERE. BIGEZBEAR'S descriptions of life in N.O. the past few months have often had me on the verge of tears. I can't imagine how emotionally painful life must be there.
From the I MUST BE GETTING SOFT IN MY OLD AGE dept.
Our friend Miss World had me in tears with this beautiful letter to her mother!
It's 5:45 pm. Time to start dinner. Tonight, I cook what I blog! So check out the recipe for Cajun Beans and Rice at THE CHURCH POTLUCK
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
THE DEATH OF NEOCONSERVATISM
I was listening to Harry Schearer's LE SHOW Sunday, when I heard a quote that I found quite startling. Schearer quoted Francis Fukuyama as saying neoconservatism should be tossed on the trash heap of history's bad ideas. For those of you unfamiliar with Fukuyama, he is one of the founding fathers (along with Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowicz, Richard Pearle, and others) of the modern Neoconservative movement. I immediately attempted to find the quote via Google. I was unsuccessful, but found an equally damning article by Fukuyama in the NY Times magazine. Here are some excerpts:
As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at....
The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration's first term is now in shambles. The doctrine (elaborated, among other places, in the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States) argued that, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, America would have to launch periodic preventive wars to defend itself against rouge states and terrorists with weapons of mass destruction; that it would do this alone, if necessary; and that it would work to democratize the greater Middle East as a long-term solution to the terrorist problem....
But it is the idealistic effort to use American power to promote democracy and human rights abroad that may suffer the greatest setback. Perceived failure in Iraq has restored the authority of foreign policy ''realists'' in the tradition of Henry Kissinger....The administration's second-term efforts to push for greater Middle Eastern democracy, introduced with the soaring rhetoric of Bush's second Inaugural Address, have borne very problematic fruits. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood made a strong showing in Egypt's parliamentary elections in November and December. While the holding of elections in Iraq this past December was an achievement in itself, the vote led to the ascendance of a Shiite bloc with close ties to Iran (following on the election of the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in June). But the clincher was the decisive Hamas victory in the Palestinian election last month, which brought to power a movement overtly dedicated to the destruction of Israel."
Fukuyama goes on to detail how and why neo conservatism has failed, and has some concrete suggestions as to refocusing American foreign policy. He ends the article with this:
Neoconservatism, whatever its complex roots, has become indelibly associated with concepts like coercive regime change, unilateralism and American hegemony. What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world -- ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about.
That Fukuyama would so thoroughly disparage and discard the movement he was instrumental in starting is more than just surprising, it appears to be a harbinger of drastic change coming in the American body politic.
This article is almost a must read, but unfortunately, it cost $4 to purchase from the NYT archives. However, since I have already purchased it, if you are interested in reading it, drop me an email!