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Wednesday, October 24, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

Egypt. Our ally.
"I've found out that I'm allowed to take my iPod," he said cheerfully. "This is progress in the Mubarak era. Yes, they do torture you in your cell, but they allow you to listen to your iPod!"

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"Pre-Order" Isn't Really A Word.

by Michael Reynolds

Here's a link to a book by an author who is . . .um . . . very close to me. No cover yet, but it has an Amazon page. I happen to know that the author needs to unload about 200,000 of these things. So if each reader of this blog will just buy about 1,500 copies that would be really, really great.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

I may have a reason for asking. (Bear in mind, writers are always hustling in one way or another.) Or, I may just be asking for fun. But in either case, I am soliciting suggestions.

Premise: You've just been assigned to escort the Martian ambassador around plant Earth. Your goal is to give him a sort of survey course on Earth, its history, its geography, its animals, people and coolest locations. You have ten weeks, and you can visit only ten places.

Question: Where do you take the ambassador?

Talk to me, regulars. You too, lurkers.

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Drunks, Fools and Americans.

by Michael Reynolds

Walter Russell Mead has a long, but very readable, and very compelling piece at TNR. It's quite brilliant without being in any way inaccessible. (Brilliant because he and I agree; accessible because I wasn't forced to Google the examples he gives.)

Summarizing a ten page article, (that you really should read,) Mead points out that we are the dumbest foreign policy player imaginable, and yet the most successful. His metaphor of choice is Mr. Magoo, the cartoon character who, despite being nearly-blind, always managed to avoid serious injury and came out on top with his confidence intact.

Nothing in the field of international affairs is as scandalous and as perplexing as the fac of American power. From Revolutionary times to the present, virtually all observer foreign and domestic have agreed that Americans don't do foreign policy well. Moralistic uninformed, unsubtle, alternately isolationist and hyperactive, hamstrung by a clums constitutional process and a public that oscillates between fatuous idealism and ignoran bellicosity, U.S. foreign policy has been shocking the world for more than 200 years.

And, worse still, we win. For two centuries, the United States has astounded critics with its bad foreign policy--and, for two centuries, the United States has steadily risen to an unprecedented level of power and influence in the international system. Why does the team with the worst skills in the league end up with so many pennants?
He draws the contrast between the Bismarckian or Kissingerian ideal and our own . . . er . . . system:

In a classic Bismarckian state, a single genius masters the complexities of the international system, calculates the national interest, and pursues it in a multidimensional chess game, matching his wits against the ministers of rival states. By contrast, in the American system, bureaucracies, parties, industry groups, advocacy organizations, ethnic lobbies, and others wrestle over foreign policy. We don't have a single pilot steering our ship of state; we have a brawl on the poop deck as everyone on board scrambles for the chance to get his or her hands on the wheel. The result often looks messy but works reasonably well because, over time, the resulting foreign policy generally reflects the views and interests of American society as a whole.
The explanation is that the US, while occasionally evil, is less evil than most of our competitors. And that we actually do want the people of the world to do well -- to have thriving economies, liberal institutions and stability. So our goals end up coinciding with those of more people in more places. In short, we have managed, despite our own frequent failure to understand our own role in the world, to represent the future.

This is an analysis of power, not a defense of failure. Had the Bush administration made different choices at key points, both the United States and the world would be much better off than they are. But, fortunately or unfortunately, the foundations of American power have less to do with the wisdom of particular policies than with the way that the priorities of American society and the strategic requirements of American power intersect with the realities of international life. It is not how smart we are; it is how well we fit.
It's not that we're not governed by idiots. We are. (And the Bush administration has set new standards for stupid. ) No one argues that our policy makers know what they're doing. But we, the American people, crazy it seems, actually do seem to know what we're doing. We're innovating, working hard, taking risks, allowing our fellow citizens to live as they see fit, to say what they feel like saying, to worship (or not) any God that works for them, and pushing the boundaries of inclusion rather than exclusion. And inviting the rest of the world to join the party.

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Giuliani: Back-stabbing Ingrate.

Monday, October 22, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

For the past two months Rudolph Giuliani has been coming home at night to one of the happiest marriages in New York.

That's how long the mayor, in flight from his own marital wreckage at Gracie Mansion, has been a frequent sleepover guest at the home of Howard Koeppel and his partner, Mark Hsiao. Mr. Koeppel, who is 64, is a Queens car dealer who has been both a close friend and prodigious fund-raiser of Mr. Giuliani's since 1989. The 41-year-old Mr. Hsiao is a Juilliard-trained pianist who works at the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. They've been together almost 10 years -- are registered with the city as domestic partners -- and in happier times for the Giuliani marriage, double-dated with the mayor and Donna Hanover on New Year's Eve. Now they are doting hosts to Mr. Giuliani as he juggles his raucous divorce, his recovery from prostate cancer treatments, his waning months in office, his romance with Judith Nathan, his post-public-life future and, last but hardly least, his search for an affordable Manhattan apartment rental of his own.

The mayor's progressive record on gay civil rights notwithstanding, he has not endorsed same-sex marriage. But, says Mr. Koeppel, ''He did tell us that if they ever legalized gay marriages, we would be the first one he would do.'' Mr. Koeppel and Mr. Hsiao are in favor of the right to marry -- which, among other things, would give gay couples the same protections as heterosexual couples in legal and fiscal matters ranging from immigration and adoption rights to veterans' and Social Security benefits.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, told The Hill Saturday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) would support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Perkins said Giuliani told him in a private meeting that if the Defense of Marriage Act appeared to be failing or if multiple states began to legalize same-sex marriages, then he would support the constitutional amendment.

Rudy, if this is true you really are a . . . wait, can I use the "S" word here? I can? Good. Then, Rudy, if this is true, you really a sorry, amoral, disloyal, back-stabbing, soul-selling, piece of shit.

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