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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)"

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"

R.I.P. Baby Doc Duvalier

Well, we're late in wishing Baby Doc Duvalier a happy afterlife, but it's been a long time since he mattered much, and when he did matter, it was for all the wrong reasons. He got more than honorable in the Dictator's Handbook and his 15 year rule of Haiti was only slightly better than an outbreak of a deadly virus, rife with humans rights abuses, torture, and unexplained death.

Never underestimate that power of the crowds to come out and mourn the "good old days," though. Continue reading "R.I.P. Baby Doc Duvalier"

History repeats itself in Nicaragua

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?

Boo, Hiss, UK Snooping Laws

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.

Where's Ortega?

Waldo with cane

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?"

Greatest hits from the forum, 2013 (part 2 of 2)

Continuing on - and finishing - yesterday's discussion, here are some of the best bits of commentary from the Europe, Africa, General, and Chitchat sections. In sum, 2013 was a great year for all you Dickheads on the forum! Keep it going, folks. Lord knows you can't discuss this stuff on Facebook./a Continue reading "Greatest hits from the forum, 2013 (part 2 of 2)"