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A Tear for Nicaragua (Die Ortega, Die)


I'm chagrined that it's taken this long for me to take this on, but here we are:

Nicaragua is on the cusp of a new chapter filled with unspeakable evil. Time to start paying attention, world.

Maybe we all saw it coming. The Dictator's Handbook was written about Daniel Ortega; the first edition would have been dedicated to him, "without whom this book could never have been written," had my wife not intervened. But from the moment that mustachioed shithead stepped back into power, I think we must all have known that we'd eventually wind up where we find ourselves today.

It began with a nothing, sort of: botched pension reform. But that wasn't the beginning. Long before this last, hamfisted mistake came countless other power grabs, offenses, glimpses of avarice. Ortega has long known the Nicaraguan pueblo (people) are sick and tired of violence, after having weathered a bloody and endless civil insurrection. Oh yeah, that was the insurrection that put this avaricious bastard in power. The abuses of the constitution, the imposition of a vice president who had never appeared on the ticket (his wife), followed by constituional change to ensure she'd succeed his eventual death. The grooming of a son. The casting out of her daughter, his stepdaughter, who had long accused him of having repeatedly raped her through the 1980s. She was silenced, as were others.

It all seemed like ... steps straight out of the Dictator's Handbook.
Continue reading "A Tear for Nicaragua (Die Ortega, Die)"

Dictator Dislikes: Slumming

To all you pretenders out there: Rich Tater is about to get something off his chest. And it's not my medal collection, either. 


Here's what has me worked up today (on day 1 of my Palm Beach vacation, no less). Anyone, and I mean anyone with autocratic ambitions should immediately stop stop STOP hobnobbing with the hoi polloi!


It's embarrassing, it's beneath you all, and it is absolutely the last thing any self-respecting dictator should ever want to do. And if you aren't the type to embarrass easily, think about it in practical terms--you are better off, as I wrote in my book, keeping above the fray of the day-to-day, affecting a 'not seen' but definitely heard and felt (especially that) approach to your person.


Look, you want public unveilings of your august self on a balcony above overflowing piazzas? Go ahead! You want to be beamed onto every TV and device! Mahzel-tov! You want to have your secret police beat the living daylights out of opposition leaders and parade them under your likeness once they can barely stand? Ok by me!


But never, never get out there and engage with the masses on their terms. It's vulgar. It's dirty (be enough of a germophobe to stay away from them). And it's beneath you. But there's more.  


Stay away!


Image By John French Sloan - Michigan State University Library, Digital Collections: The Masses, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10133330 

Continue reading "Dictator Dislikes: Slumming"

Dick's Tips: Mudslinging

As you might have heard, I recently got back in the dictatorship game after an, uh, unexpected absence. At the moment, the ship of state is once again sailing on a smooth, predictable course, designed by me and me alone! But all work and no play make Rich Tater a dull boy, so I thought, now that the universe is once again in alignment, why not take a trip with the mistress to Palm Beach, as I used to do before my unbroken ascent was rudely interrupted by those ambitious generals (and in case you were wondering, let's just say those ambitions are now permanently curtailed).


So, fire up the Gulfstream jet! Pack the cases of Cristal! We're going to sunny climes!


Before I leave, I thought I would single out some dear colleagues for their use of the the principles I've discussed in my book. Cultivating the near enemy, of course is a staple of the politics of distraction--hey, if my country was disintegrating into an economic hell-hole, then I'd do the same thing. But you can do this in style, too: why just name an enemy when you can name-call as well? That's the kind of subtle difference that separates the men dictators from the boy tyrants.  


Listen up!

Continue reading "Dick's Tips: Mudslinging"

Chemical Romance

The revelation that Kim Jong Un's brother was murdered through the use of VX nerve gas is the latest reminder of the proverbial love of dictators for all things chemical (weapons, that is). Or, sometimes, just plain chemicals. 


Let's start with weapons, though.


It burns!


Illustration by Ben Mills - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1583071 

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WWDD: Family Problems

Dear Dick:


I have very bad problem. Very bad. My brother and sister leak 'fake news' to media. Say I have many mistress, all on government salary. Stories upset my wife (another problem). Now they say I raid national treasury; I deny and say I am offended but no one listen. I can take no more, so I order 'accident' on bridge at night for them. But, now I think: do I go too far? Not sure. Please send advice.


#1 Fan.  

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The Resurrection of Generalissimo Richard M. Tater

Surprise!
Well, you shouldn't be. Come on, get those jaws off the floor. Calm down. Have a stiff drink, if you've got one.
Now think about my sudden return to power for more than 10 seconds and you'll come up with a reasonable explanation. Ready? Come on ... 10, 9, 8 ... 3, 2, 1 ... no theories yet? No overly confident explanations (based on 'facts') as to why the people have once again chosen -- and yes, 'chosen' is the word, you horrified democrats out there -- to put their faith, votes, and money behind yours truly?



Propaganda? Nope. A nice try, and though I never say no to good agitprop, that's not what did it. 
Lack of civil society? Eh ... you can do better than that.
Weak legal superstructure? An ugly and opaque phrase -- are you a post-modernist or something? Sure, I had 'legal' challenges, but I know how to deal with them, and strong or weak legal traditions don't really bother me too much.
Generals lost their nerve: well, I admit they had me on the run for a while. They culled my inner circle quite ruthlessly a couple of years ago (wonder where they got that idea?), but I've never met a general I couldn't bribe, have you? Didn't think so. And once they were on the take, picking them off and replacing them with loyalists was easy.
Corrupted the electoral process? Sorry but they didn't need me to do that for them.

Look, if you're searching for an answer to the question 'why' you really don't need to look much past basic human needs. The people want to have a leader. They want to identify with a strong personality that is going to give no quarter. They were tired of the turmoil after I left; a return to 'normalcy' was in the air, and nothing (to them) was as normal as me. I'm more than just the face of the state -- in many ways, I am also the people. What, to them, was a group of elected officials with the collective charisma of lo-mein noodles? Not too damn much. 

People, it has to be said, love Dick. And, in my way, I love them back! 
But if you really want to know why I'm back, you'll have to read on.  


Continue reading "The Resurrection of Generalissimo Richard M. Tater"

Good luck, Faure

Just look at this guy: great suit, sharp haircut, winning smile.  What is there not to like about a guy like Faure Gnassingbe?  Well, the fact that he and his old man have ruled the country since independence, for one.  Togo and the Gnassingbes are essentially one and the same.  That might change this week, but I doubt it.  Togo's presidential elections were yesterday (Saturday, 25 April 2015), and while this time the competition was stiffer than it usually is, my money is on Faure.   He might be slipping in the polls, and it's true that the Togolese have just been registered as Africa's most miserable.  Lord knows under the Gnassingbe family Togo hasn't made much progress.  But is a guy this sharp going to just piss it all away in the name of democracy?  Not if he's read my book.  Good luck, Faure, and see you around another year, probably.  If the election goes south, you know what to do next.  Start by wiping off that winning smile and showing Togo what happens when you don't get your way.  


Dick out. 

Je suis Charlie

It's hard not to be touched by the recent violence. And after careful consideration, I have to say I stand with Charlie Hebdo. It's simple: I've lived in peaceful, Muslim countries for well over a decade. And not only do I have enormous respect for Islam and Muslims, I can understand their anger when they feel they are being provoked and slighted.

But that doesn't justify cold-blooded murder. This attack was wrong. There's no way to condone the murder of these people. When satire is a threat, you have to seriously re-evaluate your beliefs. Humor is the weapon best able to topple the worst dictators. Let's support free expression, in whatever form it takes. Murder is not the answer.

I am against violence in all its forms. But I'd like to hope we can find ways to not deliberately provoke the religious-minded, too. Hey, why can't we all just get along?

A Look at the Bolivarian Revolution

Everyone has been excited to see Evo Morales get reelected for another mandate, and I don't have much of an opinion about that. But watch out for those of you who would like to point to the reelection as an example of success for the famous, Hugo Chavez-inspired "Bolivarian Revolution."

The name refers to Simon Bolivar, not the modern-day nation, and before anyone gets too excited about the name, it's useful to take a look at what Chavez actually accomplished in his nation before shuffling off this mortal coil. Continue reading "A Look at the Bolivarian Revolution"