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I describe myself as a "militant moderate." Among other things, this means that I am not given to alarmist, hyperbolic, or rhetorical heat of any kind; cool understatement is more to my liking. So why do I subtitle this essay "Notes on How (Not) to Become a Banana Republic"? It will strike some listeners as inflammatory, the product of a fevered imagination. I plead guilty only to hyperbole, a time-honored rhetorical device.
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