Monday, December 31, 2018

To resume, or not?

Well, now that I have a little time on my hands, I realize I let my beloved dictator blog … uh … lapse a little bit.

OK. More than a decade. But that's neither here nor there. I still get visitors here for some unknown reason (perhaps they were searching for a late aughts zeitgeist on authoritarianism?), and maybe one of those intrepid souls could help me out: should I resuscitate Dictators Of The World?

The list of dictators I used to blog about has dwindled considerably in the past 10 years (which is good), except it could make for an understandably duller reader experience. I would hate to spend all of the oxygen only posting about dead dictators.

Choices, choices. Leave comments to help me out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

OK, OK ...

I know, I know. I've been gone a while. OK! Four months. But I just needed to take a moment to pop in to say yes, I still receive and read new comments and to let readers know that if you would like to become a contributing editor for Dictators of the World, leave a comment expressing interest. I should have more time to update DotW soon, but until then, the quiet period here will continue just a bit longer.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dictator fetes ... dictator.

In a move that startled absolutely nobody, Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chávez has bestowed Venezuela's highest honor, The Order of the Liberator, on dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus.

The award, given for "meritorious service to Venezuela" was given to Europe's last dictator shortly after Chávez's own attempt to become president for life was narrowly thwarted at the polls. Undaunted by Lukashenko's rotten records on press and political freedoms, Chávez gushed that Lukashenko's Belarus is "a model social state, like the one we are trying to create [in Venezuela]". Venezuelans will doubtlessly be overjoyed to learn that Chávez views Belarus as a political and social role model, which removes those final doubts some Chávez opponents had about leaving the country forever before they're locked up as political prisoners.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The seven wonders of the totalitarian world

I know what you're thinking: only seven? Well, I didn't pick the list. Esquire magazine did. Why does a magazine devoted to women, cars and men's fashion care about totalitarian monuments? Your guess is as good as mine, but you can view their list right here.

Personally, I would have made room for North Korea's infamous Ryugyong hotel on this list. Maybe next time?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dictator week!

Voters in Venezuela say no to Hugo Chávez's bid to become president for life, fueling speculation if the one time military coupster will bypass the ballot box next time and simply go the more traditional route to seizing unlimited power.

On the other end of the spectrum, Pakistan's military strongman Pervez Musharraf has stepped down from his military position, hoping to hang on in what's sure to be an insanely rigged election in January. Trading on the political unpopularity of his opponents won't hurt, either.

And lest he think we've forgotten about him, Vladimir Putin has secured his efforts to keep running Russia behind the scenes after his term as president ends. Czarism, anyone?

And yes, I'm back! It's been a busy couple of weeks for me, but everything has settled down. 2008 promises to be every bit the golden age for dictators that 2007 has been, and DotW will be here to enjoy every second of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yes, we're still here.

I apologize for falling somewhat behind on DotW. I've been busy out there in the real world, and should have time for blogging again very soon.

As for dictator news, it's all Pervez Musharraf all the time lately, isn't it? I don't have very much to add on the man himself, but I'm certainly bemused by the editorial spin that paints the man as a creature of the Bush administration. Perhaps people have forgotten that America has, and forever will, back whichever dictator is holding the reins in Pakistan?

Monday, November 12, 2007

King Juan Carlos of Spain to Hugo Chávez: "Just shut up"

Someone forgot to tell Hugo that "fascist" is a real word with a real meaning in Spain, and who better to remind him than the king?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who's hot? Who's not?

HOT: Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan)

The general has been down so long, that anything looks like up to him. So when Musharraf declared martial law this week, even his innumerable enemies had to concede that Musharraf still has enough political juice to be reckoned with. Is the state of emergency a desperate move to retain power? Will his bizarre assault on Pakistan's judges and lawyers capture the imagination of the public? Will the scolding by the United States help, or harm his reputation with Pakistan's intransigent intelligence services?

He's got nowhere to go but down from here, but for today? The man is red hot.

NOT HOT: Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)

At long last, the world is getting ready for a Zimbabwe without Robert Mugabe. At 83 years old, he no longer has the energy or political will to keep control of the ruling ZANU-PF party. Could anyone have imagined five years ago that the ZANU-PF leadership would be talking about ousting Mugabe in a coup d'etat? Of course not. Mugabe's pitiful plans to run for re-election one more time are looking more and more like the pleas of a tired old man to go out on top. We're betting he'll be out long before the 2008 elections.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

When You Wish Upon A Dictator

You may have all noticed by now that most dictators are very, very fond of commissioning ridiculous, self-aggrandizing monuments. from Nicolae Ceauşescu's absurd Palace of the Parliament, the North Korean Kim dynasty's comically disastrous Rygyong Hotel, and Turkmenbashi's insanely creepy Rukhnama monument, dictators generally like to think big and expensive when scattering their legacy across the countryside.

So I was surprised to see how Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev has bucked the trend by insisting on a more modestly sized project in the former capital of Almaty, ethereally called The Wishbook. The monument is a bronze memorial, ostensibly celebrating Kazakhstan's independence from the Soviet Union, and is graced with an imprint of Nazarbayev's own palm. It is said that anyone who puts his or her hand in the imprint will be granted a wish, doubtlessly due to the magical, nay, mystical all-seeing benevolence of Nursultan Nazabayev himself. The original Wishbook was recently stolen by scrap metal thieves, but the government managed not only to replace it in near record time, but have posted police to guard the monument around the clock to make sure thieves don't make off with the wishes of an entire country.

Perhaps it was vanity that prompted Nazarbayev to recreate the magic of The Wishbook, so he commissioned another similar monument for the country's new capital, Astana. Located at the top of the city's tallest building, The Padishah's Egg also features an imprint of Nazarbayev's palm, and will also grant wishes - but with a twist: the monument will play the Kazakh national anthem to confirm that the wish will be granted, and will only do so for "worthy" supplicants. When visiting Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin fondled The Padishah's Egg, the anthem dutifully played, indicating that his wish would soon be forthcoming. When a Kazakh government apparatchik on the losing end of an internal power struggle did the same, the monument remained uncomfortably and unmistakably silent - as if Nazarbayev himself were watching.

Frankly, if I had the chance, I'd wish that Nazarbayev would take a long, one-way camel trip into the middle of the desert, but what wish would you want Nursultan Nazarbayev to grant you, Dictators of the World readers?

UPDATE: Josh at knows what he'd ask Uncle Nazzy for: more giant yurts!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Year Zero (odometer: 546,944 KM)

Fans of King of the Hill will recall that feisty family patriarch Cotton Hill is forever trying to raise a few bucks selling, what he claims, is Adolf Hitler's own personal canoe, which Cotton claimed to have seized as a war trophy.

Apparently, Cotton isn't alone on trying to cash in on a dictator's transportation. Someone recently put a 1973 Mercedes Benz stretch limousine allegedly belonging to the late Cambodian dictator Pol Pot (funeral pyre pictured) up on eBay with a minimum bid of $71,000 US. Or so the story goes, anyway. I searched exhaustively for the listing on eBay, but came up empty - it seems the sale ended late last night. The alleged ad copy, however, certainly caught my eye:

"For Sale - one classic 1973 Mercedes Benz Stretch Limousine ...previously used by one infamous owner - Pol Pot"

I'd buy it, if only to keep it in the garage ... right next to Hitler's canoe.

UPDATE: Want to buy the Lancia Astura given to Adolf Hitler by Benito Mussolini? It's up for sale, too.