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Sites of Interest

(courtesy Empire Burlesque)

 Arthur Silber
Angry Arab
Antiwar.com
A Tiny Revolution
William Blum/Killing Hope
Baltimore Chronicle
Buzzflash
Magnificent Valor
The Distant Ocean
Horton/Harper's
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James Wolcott
European Tribune
Iraq Vets Against the War
Blues and Dreams
Bright Terrible Spirit

 

 

News

How To Spot A Dictator

by Tom Chartier  

Well, now that we have established a Democratic Dictatorship there seems to be some confusion. This is America! Constitutional Monarchy?  It can’t happen here! We learned that in the third grade.  

It has happened here! With the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, America has its very first bona fide dictator! The Silver Spoon Kid from Texas has made good. Yee ha! Ride ‘em cowboy! Oops, excuse me, that phrase best fits Rep. Mark Foley. 

Sadly, not all seem to be hot for Hitler-nouveau. I’m certainly displeased and plan to write a strongly worded letter to my Congressman. Fact is, I’m mad as Hell. I like to think that the U.S. is still a Democratic Republic! Well folks, the times they are a changin’ and not in a good way. Don’t people read or follow the news, beyond FOX infotainment? Never mind answering that question. It’s rhetorical. 

Maybe what we have here is a failure to communicate. We need a refresher course on how to Spot A Dictator! It’s a lot like the old Monty Python skit Spot The Loony but the prizes you win (and lose) are a whole lot more serious. 


Let’s look at the criteria. Does our Herbaceous Border live up to these legends of the genre; Josef Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and let’s not forget everybody’s favorite dictator of all time… Adolph Hitler? Fine examples of ruthless dictators all… and all loonies!  

Well, so far not yet. But there’s still plenty of time. After all, Dubya has only been working on it for six years. So far, compared to the Big Guys, the Shrub hasn’t racked up a bonanza body count, although Iraq and Afghanistan are good for starters. His adventure in Iraq as War President has only killed 655,000 “liberated” civilians above and beyond those who would have died anyway. Oh come on! That’s pathetic! George can do better than that! I have faith. 

Let’s see, what other fun things, aside from a whole lotta killin’, mark a person as a dictator? 

A love of animals?  Caligula had his horse, the Noble Incitatus. Hitler loved his German shepherd, Blondi. Here Bush qualifies handsomely.  

Dictators often claim special authorization from higher powers.  

Dictators have fetishes for certain objects like rugs.  

Dictators like extravagant ceremonies.  

Dictators like to work in secrecy

Dictators like to promote themselves.  

Dictators are not known for their tact.  Bush isn’t gonna let Osama use the insanity clause. On that count, Osama may be more generous with Bush. 

Dictators travel with large entourages to protect them.  

Often, graven images are made of Dictators.  

So far so good! Bush is right up there! 

Look it up in the dictionary: One who ‘dictates’… yeah, yeah, yeah.  A leader who is granted total emergency power usually by the Roman Senate. Hmmm… We may not be in Rome, but… The U S Senate bowed to Bush by passing the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, both of which bills pretty much grant ‘total emergency power.’ With the Bill of Rights rendered about as nourishing as a Pop Tart, and with the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance act now null, added to something like 800 signing statements, it sure looks like George has declared that George is above the law.  Throw in a kowtowing Congress and flaccid Supreme Court… I’d have to say: Dubya’s stylin’ now! 

But what’s this? George W. Bush is a president not a dictator? Have I made a mistake here? That would be good news! So… if you don’t call yourself a dictator you’re not one? I see. Makes sense. Let’s check by looking at our prime examples shall we?   

Adolph Hitler was “Der Fuehrer” or “The Leader.” Pretty simple but not “Dictator”. Kim Jong Il is the “Dear Leader.” That sounds so sweet doesn’t it? Josef Stalin was “The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.” Impressive, but not “Dictator.” Idi Amin called himself… are you ready? Take a deep breath if you are reading out loud Mr. President… "His Excellency President for Life Field Marshal Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Conqueror of the British Empire." Aye carumba! Did this guy have some swollen cajones or what?! It must have been the tertiary syphilis. But still… not “Dictator.” How about our old buddy Saddam Hussein? His title… “President of Iraq.”  

Say what?! You mean it’s possible to be a president and a dictator at the same time? Holy mustard Batman! Are we ever in a pickle!   

Preferring a delicate touch, dictators look for a title that has dignity, historical resonance and universal meaning.  See, dictators hate to be thought of as dictators.  “The Decider?” In a public hissy fit, George W. Bush let slip out the decision to be a dictator some time ago. Bush even provided his title. Dictators usually do that little thing since; after all, they are… uh… dictators. Always eager to oblige, Congress took the bait and swallowed the hook. Hey, all Bush needs is FOX “news reporters” to start calling him The Decider on a regular basis. I think another phone call to FOX is in order.  

What’s this you say? The Constitution will protect us from a dictatorship? Not if The Decider has anything to say about it! After all, “it’s just a piece of goddamned paper.” And so far, nobody has had the courage to throw it in his face hard enough to make it stick.  

Given the lack of courage on Capitol Hill, George Bush’s assessment is correct: The Constitution is just a piece of paper. Bush has decided it does not apply to him. If that doesn’t qualify him as a dictator nothing will.  

Stunned by his audacity and fooled by his idiotic behavior, pundits think he has gone crackers. Acting like a raving lunatic is another good qualification. Fools the people all the time. It worked for Idi Amin and Caligula. Hiding in a self-created delusional world as The Decider is a real big red flag when we look for clues. Hey!  Come to think of it… there is no difference between Spot the Loony and Spot the Dictator! 

However, what really makes the leader of a country a dictator is when no one can tell him “no”.  

The Decider has been spotted as a dictator and a loony! So… what’s the prize?   

Elizabeth Gyllensvard edited and contributed to this story.

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