Once upon a time in Nicaragua, there was a brutal, rapacious, avaricious dictator running Nicaragua. He, his family, and his business cronies owned anything worth owning, and controlled the rest. The press was silenced, political life was basically squashed for any other than his own party, and the people were disaffected but powerless to do much of anything about it. Then in the mountains, ragtag bands of rebels began training and organizing, gaining in strength and in courage, and they used the mountains as a base for attacks on the violent apparatus of the state: the national guard, the police, and the army.
Eventually, the rebels won. The dictator was overthrown, and the head of the rebels became the president. His name was Daniel Ortega.
Ortega knows this story well, as does every school kid that ever went through the Nicaraguan public school system. So it should be no surprise to anyone that what's happening in Nicaragua is a repeat of the past. Only this time, Ortega is the dictator, and the rebels are massing against him.
How do you think it will turn out? How do you hope it will turn out?
One country you definitely do not expect to find on this lonely little blog: the United Kingdom.
But hell, they've earned it this time! David Cameron, WTF? The BBC reports:
The legislation is primarily aimed at the companies that provide us with telephone and internet connections. It outlines their legal obligation to retain "communications data" on their customers. This metadata includes things like logs of when calls were made, what numbers were dialled, and other information that can be used, the government says, in investigations. It does not include the content of the communications.
The Prime Minister loses one point for the snooping laws, another for forcing them through Parliament without, apparently, time for due consideration, and a third point for justifying them on the grounds of the usual suspects: "emergency needs," Al Qaeda and other international baddies, and of course, pedophilia. We don't support any of those things, of course, but neither do we think the prescription is the appropriate remedy for the problem, and suspect this was just vile justification for something the British government was planning to do anyway.
Lastly, needless to say: this is a move straight out of the Dictator's Handbook. Go read it, chumps.
When I return home from my month long -- hell, six-week!! -- vacation in West Palm Beach I usually find a bored and angry trophy wife, piles of paperwork, and a gang of sycophants just waiting for access to Il Commandante (that's me). It's usually then that, with a sigh of regret, I say to my mistress 'See you in a week, honeybunny.'
This year, I turned on the news. And I saw what I'd missed since my well-deserved vacation -- the public mastery of the art of dictatorship.
Continue reading "Mr. 95.5%"
Has anyone seen Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega recently? Why, no. In fact, not only has the ersatz strongman been conspicuously absent for nearly two weeks, but it's been radio silence from the office of the president, the president's inner circle, and the Nicaraguan government as a whole.
That's good news, because it means Daniel Ortega might finally be ready to shuffle off this mortal coil, the only way we'll ever be rid of the mustachioed bastard given his recent changes to the constitution. But that's bad news too, because no government is a problem. Continue reading "Where's Ortega?"
One of the classic images in Russian literature comes from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment: more specifically, it comes from an episode where the protagonist, Raskolnikov, has a harrowing dream, in which a mare is brutally beaten to death by a carriage driver as a seething crowd eggs him on:Continue reading "Raskolnikov's Dream"
While human nature isn't likely to grow less evil over time, there are some moments in history when it just is a bad idea to be a dictator. We may be living through one of those moments now.
Certainly the events in Ukraine and Venezuela seem to suggest that, if not in outright retreat, the autocrats of our time are finding that there is no such thing as 'ultimate' power. At the very least what this shows is that modern dictaotors have not yet fully absorbed the lessons from history's more successful autocrats on managing unrest and consolidating their rule, lessons we discussed in our book.
The one seeming exception? Vladimir Putin, of course, but more on Russia later.
I'd like to use this opportunity to point out that there are few dictators who ever really achieve the absolute pinnacle of autocracy -- that point you reach when you can simply NOT CARE about international opinion or the grumblings of your people ... thanks for applauding, and yes, yes I admit that I have reached that point (of course I have) and to be honest it is a little lonely here at the summit of tyranny. How can my colleagues relate to me, after all, when they're still looking over their shoulders at the UN, the ICC, the World Bank, and many other international institutions? None of them understand my potency because they don't know what it's like.
Except, that is for my esteemed friend Vladimir Putin.
Continue reading "On Not Caring"
I don't go in much for Eastern philosophy, but even I have to admit that the concept of natural dualities can be applied to my favorite subject -- dictatorship! For every dictator that rises, another one falls, and for every autocrat who makes a mistake another capitalizes on it and assumes power (note to would-be tyrants: don't try that with me or you'll regret it).
The case of Mohamed Morsi illustrates this perfectly.Continue reading "Yin and Yang"
I, Rich Tater, am in a bad mood these days, and that's bad news for the rest of you. Would you like to know what puts me in bad mood most of all? Other than outright stupidity (a close second), the number one thing is a lack of boldness among fellow autocrats.
I mean, I've put out my dictatorial pearls of wisdom in published form; I've blogged about the positive uses of executions, illegal wiretaps, and sexual blackmail ... and after all that, you humanoids out there still can't figure it out? If I wasn't so frustrated with you, so focused on my own desires, my own locus of power, I'd get in my private jet and show you how to be a real dictator on your own turf.
But look: Mr. Yanukovkch, when you try to use the 'concessions' tactic to quell protests that threaten your reign, use it correctly, for God's (or Rich Tater's) sake! Don't promise piddling, ineffectual 'reforms' like a cabinet reshuffle or a weakening of anti-protest laws. Don't you know that just fuels the rage of the pro-democracy rif-raff? No, reread Chapter 8 of my book and you'll understand what I'm talking about (I can only hope you do, I mean). When you offer 'concessions', offer the moon -- an opposition role in the government, term limits, free elections, free love, whatever! Not that you'd ever intend to actually do any of those things, but at least playing such a forceful hand will get the attention of the rabble-rousers and entice them to calm down. THAT'S when you let your security forces pounce.
I can't believe I have to explain this all over again. Pay attention, dammit. If I wasn't halfway to West Palm Beach for some much needed R&R with my mistress, I'd make you pay attention, personally. Rich Tater has spoken.