Saturday, October 01, 2005

Support democracy or suffer populism

Condi Rice, at Princeton of all places, on Why We Fight: “This is not some grassroots coalition of national resistance, these are barbaric killers who want to provoke nothing less than a full-scale war among Muslims across the entire Middle East.” Bush too has been saying repeatedly that the terrorists have a strategy, that they are acting according to some plan. This is all straight out of the Vietnam War playbook, denying the existence of Iraqi nationalism. And for most Americans, the reason for the continued violence is rather beside the point, the fact of it is sufficient proof that American policy isn’t working. But what’s interesting is watching the Bushies get ever more radical in their rhetoric about their supposed transformational agenda for the Middle East, coupled with a contempt for idealism that is not intertwined with the use of violence. Rice said, contemptuously, “Any champion of democracy who promotes principle without power can make no real difference in the lives of oppressed people.” And the greater the idealism, the more violence is required.

Speaking of idealism, Sen. Mel Martinez gave a speech (pdf) about the threat of a spread of “populist Chavismo” in Latin America. As I noted a few days ago, populism is the new swear word amongst the anti-Chavez crowd. Martinez also refers to “mindless populism,” and warns that one must “support democracy or suffer populism.” Come to think of it, he sounds a little like Vladimir Putin warning that Ukraine-style populist Orange revolutions won’t be tolerated in Russia. The Bushies don’t seem to be defining what this populism thing they’re castigating actually is, but the label is meant to somehow delegitimize leaders they dislike who nonetheless have the effrontery to win elections.

The Miami Herald page reporting that speech contains a Google ad for toilet paper with Fidel Castro’s face.

A new California law requires pharmacists to fill prescriptions they have a moral objection to, or make alternative arrangements that don’t inconvenience the customer.

The number of deaths on the US-Mexico border has set a record, 460 over the last year, the majority dying of heat in the Arizona desert. This is the easily predictable cost of increased border enforcement.

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