How to Spot a Dictatorship

Unfortunately, the libertarian "bloc" in the country tends to be a bit too small for either of the two major parties to fight over - kind of like expending energy on wooing left handed Eskimo pipe-welders.  However, last year, with many libertarians opposing key parts of the Patriot Act, the growth in government spending, and the war in Iraq, the left and the Democratic Party made a bid to woo libertarians over to the Kerry camp. 

I would have found this argument more compelling had the left proven themselves to be a bit more consistent supporters of democracy and individual rights around the world.  Many on the left bent themselves into pretzels supporting blatant totalitarians in hopes of seeing George Bush fail.  Other leftists continue to be strong Marxists, supporting socialist regimes with a blind eye towards their human rights records.

While the socialists are probably a loss, there is still hope for much of the left to craft a freedom- and individual-rights-based foreign policy that libertarians could find compelling -- I handed out some free advice here.  However, before they left can really make progress here, the need to learn how to recognize a dictatorship:

You Know its a Dictatorship When:

  1. Michael Moore portrays the country as a kite-flying paradise
  2. Jimmy Carter sanctioned their last election
  3. The UN certifies that there is no genocide
  4. They sign friendship pacts with other dictatorships (also here and here and here too)
  5. They are a member of the UN Human Rights commission (not 100% foolproof but getting closer every year)
  6. They were once a French colony, and/or France is opposing sanctions against it (also here too)
  7. Their people are impoverished and they lag the world in economic growth

Update:  Welcome Powerline and Instapundit readers. 

  • http://powerlineblog.com/archives/2005_03.php#009826 Power Line

    More on Iran

    Reader Helen Wells writes to comment on my "God save the Queen" post below: Sorry to be critical. I'm sure...

  • http://powerlineblog.com/archives/2005_03.php#009826 Power Line

    More on Iran

    Reader Helen Wells writes to comment on my "God save the Queen" post below: Sorry to be critical. I'm sure...

  • Dan

    You know it’s a dictatorship when...

    The country's leader received over 99% of the popular vote in the last election.

    The country's leader(s) habitually appear in pubic wearing gaudy military uniform or drab peasant garb.

  • http://www.brandonjaynes.com/blog/2005/03/14/450/ the musings of Brandon Jaynes

    http://www.brandonjaynes.com/blog/2005/03/14/450/

    Over at Coyote Blog, there is advice offered to the left on How to Spot a Dictatorship. The funny thing is it's all true. The sad thing is it's all true....

  • http://news.1918.com/article.php?article_id=3323&type=read 1918 News Server

    How to Spot a Dictatorship

    More advice that the left will fail to follow...

  • http://www.babalublog.com Val Prieto

    You know it's a dictatorship when...

    The country's leader promises a rice cooker for every household.

  • Maggie

    You know it's a dictatorship when Kofi Annan suggests a Nobel Peace Prize for the "great leader" or when Jimmy Carter has visited there more than once.

  • http://www.jamulblog.com/2005/03/14/1110807735341.html JamulBlog

    How to spot a dictatorship

    A great post on the Coyote Blog...

  • Noble savage

    You know it's a dictatorship when CNN has to change the camera angle to keep the mass graves out of the picture.

  • http://blog.siekierski.com/archives/2005/03/you_know_its_a.html The Loudest Cricket

    You Know Its a Dictatorship When...

    Via Instapundit, Coyote Blog gives us some advice on How to Spot a Dictatorship. My favorite: 6. They were once a French colony, and/or France is opposing sanctions against it...

  • Tom Warttle

    1. Ninety-five percent of the national legislators are re-elected in each election.

    2. Political speech criticizing your legislator is illegal.

    3. Key laws are made not by the people but by a small group of unelected, unremovable, government functionaries with life tenure.

  • http://urbangrounds.com/2005/03/14/spot-a-dictatorship/ UrbanGrounds

    You Know it's Dictatorship When...

    You Know it's a Dictatorship When: The Leader wears a military uniform to all of his press conferences.

  • kcom

    You know it’s a dictatorship when...

    The national leader gives five hours speeches. And everyone stays until the end.

  • http://www.secondbreakfast.net/archives/001639.html it comes in pints?

    "It's twue, it's twue!"

    How to spot a dictatorship. Via the Gun-toting, racist professor of Creationism....

  • http://ipatrix.com Patrix

    You know it's a dictatorship when...

    a nuclear smuggler is made a "major non-NATO ally"

  • http://bennellibrothers.com/blog/archives/2005/03/chicoms_and_tai.php bennellibrothers.com

    Chi-coms and Taiwan

    What exactly is causing the Chinese to start saber-rattling at this point is not really known...as Taiwan has done nothing to provoke them lately, (and the President has essentially backed off of putting "independence" on the ballot)...and the US has...

  • Fluffy Bunny

    "Michael Moore portrays the country as a kite-flying paradise."
    Funny, I think Michael Moore loves the U.S.

    "Jimmy Carter sanctioned their last election."
    Funny, I think Jimmy Carter has sanctioned all of the U.S.'s elections.

    "The UN certifies that there is no genocide."
    Last I checked, the UN hasn't accused the U.S. of genocide.

    "They sign friendship pacts with other dictatorships (also here and here and here too)."
    The U.S. works closely with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakiston, China, and Suadi Arabia, all of which happen to be dictatorships, but I guess we won't count those.

    "They are a member of the UN Human Rights commission (not 100% foolproof but getting closer every year)."
    You guessed it, the U.S. is a member. (http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/docs/61chr/2005members.doc)

    "They were once a French colony, and/or France is opposing sanctions against it (also here too)"
    The Louisana Purchase.

    "Their people are impoverished and they lag the world in economic growth."
    12% of Americans live below the poverty line. That puts the U.S. behind Tunisia, Thailand, Taiwan, Mauritus, Malaysia, South Korea, Ireland, Hungary, France, China, Belgium, and Austria. (Source: The CIA's World Factbook, http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2046.html)

  • Andy Freeman

    Different poverty line.

    In the US, poor people are the ones with only one 30 inch TV.

  • kelly

    "Funny, I think Michael Moore loves U.S."

    Based on what evidence?

  • Doru Motoru

    Patrix, how many poor Americans would like to go and live in Tunisia, Malaysia, Hungary, China? How many poor Hungarians and Chinese would like to go and live in US? That's your "poverty line", right there!

  • http://andrew_redux.blogs.com Andrew

    heh.

    1. Your country’s leader is referred to as such, i.e. "Dear Leader, Great Leader, & The Leader"

    2. Your country's biggest fan is, like, Noam Chomsky, man!

    3. Your country's biggest reality-TV show is called "Nationalist Informant"

    4. Your country's media celebrates the Leader's brave and tireless exploits, each day and every day, putting the importance of the aforementioned leader and his state in proper perspective. Sample headlines or lead-ins may include, "Today, physicians breathed a collective sigh of relief when our Merciful Leader's bowel movements were regular. Observers fear that agents from the neighboring state poisoned our Forgiving Leader in an effort to humiliate our brave nation before the international community. A spokesperson at the palace read the following statement: 'We are overjoyed at our Magnanimous Leader's good health. Now, the question that all right-thinking citizens must ask is not 'Who could have done such a thing?' Rather, the question they should ask is, 'Who stands to gain from such villainy?' In other news, NASA scientists announced conclusive evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life..."

    5. Your country's internal security policies regarding the imprisonment of librarians and permanent quarantine of the HIV-infected are spun by your foreign admirers as proof of the super-high national literacy rate and far-sighted, progressive national health care system.

    6. Your country's foreign and monetary policies are guided by astrology and numerology, respectively.

    7. Your country's planning ministry announces that, thanks to the Shrewd Leader's steady hand, your Heroic Worker's Paradise has, for the 3rd decade in a row, out-produced the decadent United States. "Extra potato rations for all!"

    8. Your country's national cuisine is dedicated entirely to the preparation of delectable rodent morsels!

    9. Your country's Great Hero -- other than the Wise Leader -- is a modern philosopher.

    10. Your country's name is the answer to the question, "Who's Next?"

  • http://www.andy-stevenson.com/home.htm Andy

    Hey Fluffy Bunny, perhaps you arent aware, but the poverty line in the US is close to $10,000 for a single person. Thats much much much much higher than the international poverty line. People in the US living below this "poverty" line would be considered filthy rich anywhere else.

    By all accounts, the American "impoverished" are doing pretty well for themselves.(http://www.fte.org/capitalism/introduction/images/figure02.jpg)

  • http://www.andy-stevenson.com/home.htm Andy
  • Doru Motoru

    Sorry, in my comment above I meant Fluffy Bunny, not Patrix.

    To realize that your statistics are flawed, Fluffy Bunny, you should look at another line, the one in front of the embassies. How many poor Americans line up every day in front of the Chinese Embassy to obtain a visa to live in China? And how many poor, and rich, Chinese and Hungarians line up every day in front of the US Embassy to obtain a visa to live in the US? Are you aware of the Green Card Lottery program? Do you know how many people apply every year to obtain a Green Card for US? How many people do you think would apply for a similar program organized by China, and how many of them do you think would be outside of North Korea?

  • Drew W

    You know it's a dictatorship . . .

    When you offer a 5-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty.

    No, wait. That was you know it's a dealership . . .

    This is it: you know it's a dictatorship . . .

    When you receive the verbal or material support of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

  • Ron - WI

    ... the name of the country contains any or all of the words - democratic, republican, people, people's

  • Achillea

    ... when the rafts are all headed away.

  • http://americandigest.org/sidelines/archives/2005/03/that_wily_coyot.html Side-Lines

    http://americandigest.org/sidelines/archives/2005/03/that_wily_coyot.html

    THAT WILY COYOTE ISSUES AN ESSENTIAL LIST: Coyote Blog: How to Spot a Dictatorship You Know its a Dictatorship When: Michael Moore portrays the country as a kite-flying paradise Jimmy Carter sanctioned their last election The UN certifies that there...

  • http://americandigest.org/sidelines/archives/2005/03/that_wily_coyot.html Side-Lines

    http://americandigest.org/sidelines/archives/2005/03/that_wily_coyot.html

    THAT WILY COYOTE ISSUES AN ESSENTIAL LIST: Coyote Blog: How to Spot a Dictatorship You Know its a Dictatorship When: Michael Moore portrays the country as a kite-flying paradise Jimmy Carter sanctioned their last election The UN certifies that there...

  • http://americandigest.org vanderleun

    Came, saw and blogged it. But I note that the comments section here is doing a lot of heavy lifting. I think it should be harvested for The Canonical Collection of "You Know Its a Dictatorship When."

  • http://americandigest.org Vanderleun

    ... Ramsey Clark is awarded an Honorary Degree from the "President for Life University."

  • Derrick

    You know you're a dictator:

    When your welfare check buys you a Lear Jet.

    When you spend your peoples' money importing beauty pageant contestants to watch you and your brother play badminton.

    When your son is both soccer coach and acupuncturist. (Maybe without the "acu".)

    When "tank" is antonym for "protestor".

    When you blame your country's woes on The Great Satan and its Evil Zionist Mini-Me.

    When you want the U.N. to take over the Internet because those imperialist Americans keep routing around your censorship.

    When you pay France for a veto.

    When your Information Minister's last words are, "There are no infidels in the capitol! And we're crushing them as we speak ..."

    When you issue Fatwahs against book authors and send sharp-tongued teenage girls to the gallows.

    When you refer to unarmed NGO aid convoys as "bling".

    When the sight of people waving your own country's flag makes you nervous.

    When your ungrateful subjects are in your streets with your most hated word on their lips: "Democracy!"

  • Just a Flesh Wound

    "Funny, I think Michael Moore loves the U.S."
    That is funny.

    "Funny, I think Jimmy Carter has sanctioned all of the U.S.'s elections."
    Oh, this is funny because the US is a dictatorship. I get it. Funny, if you have your head up your wadebeltramo.

    "Last I checked, the UN hasn't accused the U.S. of genocide."
    Same joke, right? US is a dictatorship. But you're serious, aren't you?

    "The U.S. works closely with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakiston, China, and Suadi Arabia, all of which happen to be dictatorships, but I guess we won't count those."
    Same joke. Again. Always a knee-slapper, no matter how often you tell it.

    "The Louisana Purchase."
    So this makes the US a former French colony? I don't know, Wade, maybe you should stick to traffic violations.

  • Aaron

    You couldn't make the movie Naked Gun 2 1/2 with the current president instead of Bush I.

    Indonesians really freaked out when they saw that.

  • David Emami

    Now, is someone going to get Jeff Foxworthy to recite this list?

  • http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/006505.php Winds of Change.NET

    Economic Freedom and Progress

    Coyote Blog has a hilarious, and largely true list of "You Know It's a Dictatorship When..." Pay special attention to his last link, which covers the link between long-term economic freedom and economic prosperity.

  • Raymond

    And the comments section is just as good.

    ......You know it's a dictatorship when CNN has to change the camera angle to keep the mass graves out of the picture.

    Yeah, CNN and the rest of the leftist media dependably in Walter Durranty mode.

    ....... When you receive the verbal or material support of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

    Never met a socialist mass butcher he didnt like.

    ...... Your country's internal security policies regarding the imprisonment of librarians and permanent quarantine of the HIV-infected are spun by your foreign admirers as proof of the super-high national literacy rate and far-sighted, progressive national health care system.

    He left out the part of sending them abroad while holding relatives at gunpoint back "home" to keep them from defecting

    Clintons scheme of keeping a Cuban slave surrounded by Castros invited Cuban Killers on American SOIL !!!, was a nice touch, showing just how "centrist", ahem, a dependably morally obtuse leftist he truely was.

    ...... When you issue Fatwahs against book authors and send sharp-tongued teenage girls to the gallows.

    Brothers Hussein used em for sex toys and live tiger food, Mc Dermit flew to Iraq to get a piece of that action, I suspect.

    Course, that would only raise his status with the morally obtuse leftists that elected him, perhaps his co-patriot could comment on Saddamns day care centers.

    How about this, you know your a leftist hellhole with mass graves but good Socialist credentials when you get visuts from the likes of Billy Carter and Roger Clinton and maddie bomber Albright gives you accolades on the fine food the good cognac and the massive parade dancing.

    With only 3 shot in the head after you left for falling out of step.

  • Fluffy Bunny

    I've received a couple of emails replying to my earlier post, and I guess I shouldn't have been sarcastic in my post (I should have learned by now that sarcasm really rubs people the wrong way). No, Carter didn't actually "sanction" the U.S. elections; in fact, he has been somewhat critical of the disparate voting methods used in the U.S., although he nonetheless believes that they are legitimate. And No, poverty in the U.S. is not the same as poverty in the rest of the world.

    In addition, some people seem to think that I am arguing that the U.S. is a dictatorship. I DON'T think that the U.S. is a dictatorship. To the contrary, I think that the U.S. IS THE GREATEST DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD! And this may sound corny, but every day that I read about the terrible things that are going on around the world, I thank my lucky stars that I was born here. I just thought it was ironic that most of the Coyote's original posts could be applied (some a little loosely) to the this great democracy.

    I know I'm being a little too serious for this post, but I'm not a big fan of making light of dictatorships, particularly in light of our continued support and close ties with them when it suits our needs (i.e. Rice is visiting Pakistan this week).

    I hope President Bush's actions in the middle east work out and that in 15, 25, 50 years, we won't have any more dictatorships in this world. But there is a need for an institution where the world's nations can come together. Is the U.N. that institution? I don't know. To say that the U.N. is dysfunction, inept, and counter-productive is putting it kind. But what has the U.S. done to fix the U.N.? Maybe it can't be fixed, but I'm not a fan of just bashing it either. I'm hopeful that John Bolton's blunt approach is what is needed to begin reforming the U.N. But if the U.N. can't be made to work, then what is the U.S. still doing as part of it? If it can't be made to work, don't we need to create another institution where the world's nations can come together to deal with political, economic, environmental, and social issues?

    Sorry to be so serious and rain on everyone's parade.

  • Fluffy Bunny

    Again, sorry to be so serious, but I thought Andrew Sullivan's take on John Bolton is very interesting. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-1522698,00.html

  • Fluffy Bunny

    Again, sorry to be so serious, but I thought Andrew Sullivan's take on John Bolton is very interesting. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-1522698,00.html

  • http://www.arizonawatch.com Jack Benway

    You know it's a dictatorship when the US-based lefties start foaming at the mouth to protest a US invasion of it.

  • http://www.publiuspundit.com/?p=673 Publius Pundit

    YOU KNOW IT'S A DICTATORSHIP WHEN...

    Now this, found on Coyote Blog is really funny!

    You Know its a Dictatorship When:

    Michael Moore portrays the country as a kite-flying paradise

    Jimmy Carter sanctioned their last election

    The UN certifies that there is no genocide

    They...

  • Fluffy Bunny

    "The Bush administration is right to put the expansion of liberty and democracy at the center of its foreign policy. But as long as we favor dictatorships like Pakistan over free countries like India, the world will be right not to take our words seriously."

    By Larry Pressler is a former Republican senator from South Dakota in the NYT, 03/21/05

  • http://borasky-research.blogspot.com Ed Borasky

    You know it's a dictatorship when a centrist US government supports it and either the hard-line left or hard-line right (but not both) protests.