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In America at the Crossroads, Francis Fukuyama critiques the neoconservative movement and its disastrous defense of the Iraq War. But he remains fully committed to the unchecked use of American power.

The war is coming home, in the form of people dreadfully wounded in body and spirit. Yet Democratic candidates aren't too worried about their hawkish stance, because the peace movement has no fire in its belly.

To repair the damage Tom DeLay left in his wake, the November elections must be a referendum on the political machine he created, which continues to drive this Congress.

The recent furor over a scholarly article suggesting that the "Israel lobby" drives US Mideast policy presents an opportunity for vigorous open debate on a volatile subject.

The secular left consistently disarms itself of what could be its most powerful weapon against the religious right: a spiritual vision of the world.

Progressive religious leaders should be sensitive to the danger that unexamined God-based public policy presents, whether it comes from the right or the left.

PHOTO NATION DEBUT

Harpswell, Me.

On March 31, I posted a piece that compared two accounts of a January 31, 2003 meetin...

Defenders of the war in Iraq are always quick to dismiss any expression of opposition by the American people as so inconsequential that no one in Washington will take notice. That's what they did in March of 2005, when 50 Vermont town meetings voted for anti-war resolutions. And that is what they are now doing in April of 2006, when confronted with the news that the citizens of 24 Wisconsin cities, villages and towns -- including a half dozen communities that voted for President Bush in 2004 -- have voted for Bring the Troops Home Now referendums that call for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The problem with the attempt to dismiss the Wisconsin votes -- which is so obviously meant to discourage more communities in more states from using democratic processes to challenge the war -- is that the Bush White House is not on message. Instead of feigning ignorance of the referendums, or simply refusing to comment, White House press secretary Scott McClellan stumbled through a lengthy discussion of the Wisconsin results on the day after the voting.

Of course, McClellan would never let the truth pass over his lips. But the confirmation that opposition to the war has spread even to some of the most Republican sections of the country had evidently unsettled the White House spokesman.

Young rebels in France are fighting not for change but for the same rights their parents tried to secure during the 1968 student revolution.

The media should be talking about Tom DeLay and the collapse of the conservative movement. About immigration reform and the divide in the Republican Party. About how the Bush Administration is trying to export democracy to Iraq while cutting funds for democracy promotion. About how four House Republicans are pushing to force the House to debate the war. Or--if you want something seedy--about how yet another Bush Administration official was arrested, this time for trying to seduce a 14-year-old girl over the Internet.

Instead, they can't get enough of Cynthia McKinney, a controversial Democrat from Georgia who last week punched a police officer on Capitol Hill. It's not just Fox News. Wolf Blitzer had her in the Situation Room. Even Jon Stewart last night juxtaposed images of DeLay and McKinney, as if their sins were equal. And McKinney inexplicably keeps the story alive by holding media appearance after media appearance.

The Nation defended McKinney when the right-wing and AIPAC slimed her as an anti-Semite back in 2002. But, as far as I'm concerned, she's on her own now.

In November 2004, the village of Luxemburg, Wisconsin, voted to re-elect George W. Bush by a hefty margin of 701 to 431. Always a GOP stronghold, the community voted for other Republicans as well, even the challenger to popular Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who was winning by a landslide statewide.

There's not much question that the majority of the 2,000 residents of this rural northeastern Wisconsin village of well-maintained homes, neat storefronts and large churches think of themselves as old-fashioned Midwestern conservatives.

So, by the calculus of the Bush White House and its echo chamber in the national media, Luxemburg ought to be just about the last place in the United States to express doubts about the President's handling of the war in Iraq. And surely, no national pundit would have predicted that the village would vote in favor of a referendum declaring: "Be it hereby resolved, that the Village of Luxemburg urges the United States to begin an immediate withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, beginning with the National Guard and Reserves."

Calls for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are growing louder. Here is a dossier on his critics, from A to Zinni.

"Confidence can accomplish anything." That's what Maryland's ecstatic coach Brenda Frese told a reporter at the end of one of the greatest games in women's college basketball history. The Terrapins weren't supposed to win the NCAA women's championship. But they played so fearlessly, and with such confidence, overtaking powerhouse Duke by 78-75 in overtime, that it made you believe anything was possible.

My 14 year old daughter, Nika, who lives, breathes and plays b-ball--she's a shooting guard on her high school varsity team, for the Douglass Panthers' team in the NY Housing Authority League, and is starting to play in AAU tournaments around the state--sat without moving during the entire game, mesmerized by Maryland's freshman point guard Kristi Toliver, whose clutch basket took the "Terps" into overtime with just a few seconds to spare.

After too many desultory Knicks games, and a near-blowout men's NCAA final Monday night, this was one shining moment for b-ball and women's sport. As Maryland freshman Stephani Buckland told the Washington Post on the eve of the game, punching her fist into the air: "Power to women. For so long no one here cared about women's basketball. All of a sudden, the women are the best. We do rock!"

Tom DeLay claims to see a vast anti-Christian conspiracy in the legal troubles that forced him out of the House--though his own sins would seem to be sufficient explanation.

I'm glad John Kerry finally has a coherent position on the war in Iraq. He's against it, and he wants US troops to leave. I just wish he would have said so two years ago, when it might have made a difference. From his New York Times op-ed today:

 

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

 

 

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.

 

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, now an ardent anti-war campaigner, has let loose a blistering broadside against the rest of the peace movement. Calling it near "total collapse," Ritter slams the anti-war movement for being disorganized, chaotic and often "highjacked" by a plethora of progressive causes removed from the war itself.

It's a worthy criticism -- and one not far off the mark. Problem is, Ritter seems prone to make the same mistakes for which he is criticizing others. For him, it's not enough --for example-- that conservative Pennsylvania Democrat Jack Murtha has called for a U.S. troop pullback. Ritter also wants Murtha (and other Democrats who initially supported the war) to now formally recant and retract their earlier positions. That's a great idea in itself. But it shouldn't be the price of admission into the anti-war ranks.

Broadening the anti-war movement by focusing its message seems an imperative for success. Imposing litmus tests, on the other hand, seems self-defeating. I've got the whole story on my personal blog.

Did Tom DeLay decide to step down abruptly because he thought he would lose a tough re-election fight? Or did he decide to jump ship before his party returned to minority status?

His money-laundering trial will soon begin in Texas. Former top aides recently pled guilty to "a far-reaching criminal enterprise operating out of DeLay's office," as the Washington Post put it. The internal polling numbers in Sugar Land, Texas, were not good.

DeLay may have been able to stay afloat and squeak out a narrow election victory. He'd still have a plum seat on the Appropriations Committee, doling out federal dollars to his favorite pet projects and corporate benefactors. But as an architect of the Republican majority, toiling in the minority would be a hard pill to swallow.

I've long thought that the anti-war left makes a mountain out of a moron when they bend over backwards to praise right-wing ideologues who now criticize the Iraq war. Still, it's been a hoot to watch pro-war bloggers and pundits froth from one corner of the mouth and offer faint praise from the other as the list of conservative icons-turned-defectors grows longer and longer. The latest double-speak comes from Peter Wehner, deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, in today's Wall Street Journal where he takes on "Messrs. Buckley, Will and Fukuyama."

Cheerily repeating the administration's line, Wehner writes that "In 2005, Iraq's economy continued to recover and grow. Access to clean water and sewage-treatment facilities has increased. The Sunnis are now invested in the political process, which was not previously the case. The Iraqi security forces are far stronger than they were." Is this the same Iraq that the NYT described Sunday in its lead article?

Meanwhile, for those who take faith in such signs, Bill Buckley's latest critique is reported by Bloomberg news. Charles Krauthammer's latest slap-down of "ex-neo con Fukuyama" is here. And over at townhall.com George Will tries to "face facts."

When he was making his name in American politics, as then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's political enforcer, Tom DeLay was confronted by fellow Republicans who urged him to embrace a bipartisan budget compromise. Borrowing an expletive from Dick Cheney, DeLay growled, "F--k that, it's time for all-out war."

DeLay's war on American democracy--which included not just radical gerrymandering of Congressional districts and the formalization of pay-to-play policy-making in Washington but the crude manipulation of the recount that made George Bush President--is now coming to a close. Under indictment, forced from the House leadership by scandal and faced with the prospect of defeat in November, DeLay has signaled that he will quit the House of Representatives that he has effectively run for the better part of a decade.

Histories of this dark passage in the American story will record that no political figure fought harder or longer to dismantle traditions of compromise and cooperation in Congress than DeLay, a man who targeted those with whom he disagreed as zealously as he had once gone after the vermin he chased in his previous career as an exterminator. As far as DeLay was concerned, the niceties of democracy were a cruel impediment to his new career path. So he went to war with the process itself on behalf of his own political advancement--and that of the paymasters in the industries he served more diligently than his Texas constituents, his conservative ideology or his Republican Party.

Last February, South Dakota lawmakers approved the nation's most restrictive ban on abortion, setting the stage for new legal challenges that its supporters hope will lead to an overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The measure, which passed the state Senate 23 to 12, makes it a felony for doctors to perform any abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. This law is clearly illegal. But the idea is to get the case heard by the Supreme Court on appeal after the law is struck down by an appellate court and then hope that the new Roberts/Alito axis changes the law.

As the Washington Post reported, even without this latest ban, South Dakota was already one of the most difficult states in the country in which to get an abortion. It is one of three states with only one abortion provider (Mississippi and North Dakota are the others), and its one clinic, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, offers the procedure only once a week. Four doctors who fly in from Minnesota on a rotating basis perform the abortions, since no doctor in South Dakota will do so because of the heavy stigma attached. Planned Parenthood is also leading the charge against this repressive measure that would force the closure of its Sioux Falls clinic. Click here for info on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is effectively challenging the extremists in South Dakota and beyond.

What happens when liberals lose their sex drive? American culture moves further away from secular individualism and closer to religious fundamentalism.