The Ugly American (redux)

Do you remember "The Ugly American"? This novel was written by William J. Lederer & Eugene Burdick in 1958;  the 1960 paperback was a best seller, and it was made into a movie starring Marlon Brando in 1963. The book provides a nice backdrop for the blunders that led us into Vietnam, and for many of us in the Vietnam era, it provided a valuable introduction into International Realities 101.

One person today stands out as blissfully unaware of the lessons of that era: George W. Bush. It is unlikely that he ever read the book, or even saw the movie. If, against the odds, he did (either one), it now seems apparent that he learned nothing from it. Consequently he seems to be the reincarnation of all the worst examples in the book.

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The Eroding Imperial Presidency

Now this is interesting for institutional geeks like me:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced an agreement Monday to bypass the Bush administration and work together to explore ways of fighting global warming.

They agreed to collaborate on research into cleaner-burning fuels and technologies, and look into the possibility of setting up a system whereby polluters could buy and sell the right to emit greenhouse gases. The idea is to use market forces and market incentives to curb pollution.

Environmental groups questioned the value of the agreement, calling it little more than a symbolic gesture.

California is looking to cut carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of coal, oil and gasoline combustion -- and other heat-trapping gases that scientists say are warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

"This is an agreement to share ideas and information. It is not a treaty," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn. "Right now, all we are doing is talking about sharing ideas."

California is cutting a deal on global warming with the UK?  This is part of a trend, where cities all over the country have indepentally signed the Kyoto Accord.  What is going on?  Well, Bush isn't just failing, the Presidency itself is failing.  The executive branch has too much to do, and because of that, it's letting new leadership emerge in unexpected places.  Governors are taking more power, but so are mayors, NGOs, and even bloggers.

Top-down centralized structures continue to crumble.  Bush may hold on to his dictatorial ambitions, but the world is moving beyond him.

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"Who Wants to Be President" TV Show?

A friend of mine just got offered a job with a TV show about electing someone to the presidency. They didn't ask him to sign a non-disclosure, so I don't think I'm getting him in trouble by passing it along.

Apparently, a production company in Austin, Texas, is planning to make some sort of TV reality show based around electing someone President of the United States. I don't have any contact information, but there's bound to be an open call for candidates soon if they want to start production in the Fall. He also said the show is hoping to recruit both regular people and real potential presidential candidates. I guess that means governors and senators?

Mark Warner and Wesley Clark are not doing anything right now!

I think the show will have "Republican" and "Democratic" teams. Clearly, we need to make sure the Democratic team has the best possible folks.

Could someone who wins a show like this go on to compete in one of the primaries? I can't imagine they'll win much money, but they'd have pretty good name recognition.

I don't know a great deal more. I just thought it was interesting. Could be a lot of nothing, but he seemed pretty serious about it.

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