Saturday, March 05, 2005


Dictate This

The annual Parade list of the World's Ten Worst Dictators is in for this year. Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan tops the list, with North Korea's paranoiac Kim Jong Il coming in a close second. Bashir gets the nod for doing socially progressive things like bombing villages in his own country because they're Christian rather than Muslim. What a sweetie.

Coming in at #5 for the second year in a row is our President's and his Dad's good buddy Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. You may have heard that the bloated tribe of autocrats that rules our principal Middle-Eastern Arab ally is "holding elections"--an apparent grudging nod to regional American rhetoric. But the other half of that story (don't you just love "half stories"? Like when my local TV news reported that 262,000 new jobs were created in February, but not that the unemployment rate went up at the same time) is that those elections are limited to low-level municipal posts. And here's the part I like: women can neither run for office nor vote, not due (no!) to any cultural bias, but because of "technical difficulties": not enough women have the picture ID cards needed to vote, and even though some do, there are not enough female election workers to register them. Saudi men cannot register women (Allah forbid) because, under the oppressive thumb of Wahabbism, men and women are forbidden to mingle in public.

Don't they just sound like nice folks who share our ideals and values? (To see the Ten Worst Dictators list, which was written by David Wallechinsky, click the title of this entry, which is a link.)

The Quotidian Meander

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