Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dictators, Potato Salad and Suri Cruise

Once again, Parade magazine, that little insert in the Sunday paper that gives us recipes for potato salad and other picnic fare, along with helpful tips on how to keep our pets healthy, useful suggestions for where to vacation with your family and what Suri Cruise is up to, has come out with its list of the Top Ten Worst Dictators in the world. An odd departure from "5 Tips For A Sodium Free Meal" indeed.

I suppose it's good to know these things, if for no other reason than simply from a humanitarian standpoint (or in case you end up as a Jeopardy! contestant). But is Parade magazine really qualified for this? Some of Parade's "sister sites" are Allure, Architectural Digest, Golf for Women, Glamour, Vogue, Wired.com, GQ, Conde' Naste Traveler and Brides.com just to name a few. Very rarely do I ever associate the world's worst dictators with any of those publications either. (Well, maybe Vogue. They're awfully haughty over there.) Architectural Digest? How would that article read? ("Here you can see the appealing structure that the flying buttresses give to this room. What's not appealing is how Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe treats the citizens of his country." Or "As Annika Sorenstam gets ready to tee off from the 14th, she's focusing on the direction of the wind and trying to decide which is the appropriate club to use. What's not appropriate is the dictatorship of Kim Jung-iL over there in North Korea." You almost never read stuff like that. Rarely, in fact.) Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the information, I just find the source rather amusing.

Just to elaborate on how odd I find Parade magazine's annual list of dictators, here is a sampling of some other features in the very same issue of Parade that contains all of the dictating:

  • Quirkiest Celebrity Baby Names (Could grow up to have quirkiest worst dictator name!)
  • Top 5 Jobs, No Bachelor's Degree Required (Perhaps 'dictator' is one of them!)
  • Take Control of Your Appetite! (Then take control of your country as one of the worst dictators!)

On to the list! From...Parade magazine, correct. Hoo-boy. OK...

First, a big hearty congratulations to Pervez Musharraf and Islam Karimov for dropping out of the Top Ten this year! Nice job, fellas! Musharraf went from 8th in 2008 to not even ranking in the Top 20 this year! Quite an improvement! Now, granted he did resign as President of Pakistan in August of 2008, so it's a little hard to make the Top Ten when you're not even in charge of anything. But the new guy isn't in the Top Ten, so I'm looking at that as progress! And Karimov went from 9th in 2008 to 11th in 2009 and he is still in charge! It's only two spots, but it took him out of the Top Ten and that's important! The less dictator-y one is, the better.

Those two have their spots in the Top Ten replaced by newcomers Muammar al-Qaddafi and Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov. (Good Lord, sir. As a dictator, can't you demand that you shorten that name or else? Who names a baby Gurbanguly?) Mr. Qaddafi is the infamous leader of Libya, a country which became a household name when Christopher Lloyd shouted, "The Libyans!" to Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future in 1985. (It was his density.) Well, he's back in the Top Ten at Number 10 and looking strong. Old, but strong. As far as G.B. over there, he runs something called Turkmenistan which used to be part of the Soviet Union until 1991. He's only been in power for a couple of years, so to be named ninth out of the Top Ten in such a short period of time is quite an achievement. Yep, he's going to be quite the A-hole if he keeps this up.

In 8th place up from 10th last year is Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea. Eritrea was part of Ethiopia right up until it wasn't. Seems like around 2007 is when things really started getting stirred up over there as a result of not being attached to it's former country/host. Afewerki looks like Steadman Graham (also known as Mr. Oprah). Steadman Graham looks like Eric Holder, the nominee for Attorney General. In May of 2008 Afewerki decided elections would be postponed for "three or four decades" maybe more! Apparently they "polarize society." Well, nothing like non-polarization than only having one side!

Sayyid Ali Khamenei of Iran stayed in 7th. He's pretty much into arresting those who are into any sort of civil rights AND he allows for the government execution of juveniles! Boys can be executed at 15. Girls? At nine. I don't know what to say about that. Some things are just SO wrong that you can't even fathom them enough in order to say anything. Ugh. I don't really understand the "Iran has a dictator" thing. I thought that Iran had President I'm A Dinner Jacket running the show over there. So why is this guy there? Personally, I can see no use for him. Anywhere, really.

Hu Jintao of China moved down from 6th place to 5th this year. Ah, China. Home to the 5th worst dictator in the world. Hey, I know! Let's hold the Olympics there and pretend that none of that is happening, what do you say?! Great! Now that the Olympics are over, we can go back to where we started and act as if none of that ever happened, as in 2008, the US imported $340 billion worth of stuff from China. Where does that leave us? At Square One. Correct. And welcome.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia also dropped down this year from 4th to 5th. Saudi Arabia, home of the 5th worst dictator. So here's a good idea: Let's buy all of their oil to further our dependence on it and subsequently on them as well!. Let's abhor everything their lifestyle embraces and let's send that message by buying a gazillion dollars worth of oil every freaking day. That sends a crystal clear message doesn't it? Certainly. Sends the message that they have us by the balls and will twist our proverbial scrotum at will. Ouchy. But we have oil, so yay?

Next is Myanmar. Well, now it's called Myanmar, but you may know it as Burma. To quote J. Peterman "It will always be Burma to me." A most excellent Seinfeld episode. A not so excellent country which is ruled by Than Shwe (which reminds me of Fung Shui), who has dropped down from 3rd place last year to land in 4th. To give you some idea of how this guy runs things, in May, there was a cyclone which killed 140,000-ish and left over 2 million homeless. In response to the devastation, Than Shwe/Fung Shui blocked access to the hardest hit areas because he was busy fixing and rigging an election so he could get his constitution approved. So 4th place seems about right. Definitely justified.

Kim "Platform Shoes" Jung-iL over there in North Korea has made a most impressive drop from first place last year down to 3rd. Can you imagine where he'll drop if it turns out that he's been dead for a year and all of those people that we've seen were just look-alikes? They're pretty sneaky over there. A crafty bunch. I have no reason to believe he's not dead. And at the same time, not a whole lot to go on to prove that he is dead. But I still don't trust 'em.

Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan comes in 2nd place for the 2nd year in a row. Ah, always the bridesmaid, eh, Sudan? Somewhere along the line we got used to referring to it as "The Sudan" in the same way that we got used to referring to Congo as "The Congo". Why did we start doing that? Why did we stop? Did we not want it to catch on? Were we afraid that if the "the" was attached to all countries that we'd start sounding like Miss Teen South Carolina 2008 and her declaration that we needed to help those in "The Iraq" and such as? That's a pretty good reason! We might not have to worry about him being on the list next year, as the ICC has charged him with all things dictator-ish including: “murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing, and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property.” He's definitely list-worthy.

And Number One is a guy who climbed all the way from 6th place in 2008 clear up to 1st in 2009! It's Dictator Bob! Bob the Dictator! Bobby Rules the Land! It's Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (oooh, that's limerick material in the making right there) who is Parade Magazine's Number One Worst Dictator in the World! Take a bow, Bobby! You've been selected for this dishonor, according to Parade Magazine, for things such as:

  • An 85% unemployment rate (Egads! 85%?! Things are definitely looking up here with our 10% unemployment.),
  • An inflation rate so high that they government had to issue a $50 billion note! What can you get for $50 billion in Zimbabwe? Two loaves of bread. (I am not making this up.)
  • He agreed to hold an election in 2008 and would abide by the results...if he won. Guess what happened? He won! Shocking, eh?
  • During that election, his supporters killed 163 people who opposed him. And then they beat and/or tortured another 5,000, just for kicks.
So there you have it. How happy are you that you don't live in any of those places? (If you do happen to live in any of those places, thanks for reading the blog! And, um, yeah....sorry about all the dictatorship going on there. That really sucks.) And how happy are you that you can live in a country where you have access to such versatile publications like that of Parade magazine which you can count on one Sunday every year to bring you tips on how to brighten your spring wardrobe right there along with the Top Ten Worst Dictators list and a recipe for a scrumptious spinach dip? Exactly. Thanks, Parade. I'll be looking forward to your Top Ten Potluck Dishes For Memorial Day issue!

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1 comment:

grannyann said...

That was interesting. I have a few thoughts on the list:
I think Qaddafi wears a wig.
Holder and Mr Oprah must be twins.
Didn't quite see where Annika Sorenstam fit in this bunch.
If you had a name like Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov you'd have to be a dictator to get past the teasing by others about your name.
Thanks for the info!