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20 February 2005

America's Friendly Dictators trading cards

Augusto Pinochet of Chile:
Still crazy (and still free) after all these years.

One very familiar modern variety of the Absolute Despot, certainly in the Americas, is the Dictator, a genuine "off-with-his-head" autocrat.

I personally think dictators are terrible people, and everything the USA stands for should totally reject the whole idea of dictators. The USA should be doing everything in its diplomatic and economic power to topple dictators.

But that's just my opinion. U.S. Presidents, their administrations, and the U.S. State Department have been cozying up to and supporting dozens of these medal-festooned and gold-braid-strangling creeps consistently for the past century. One particular American institution that helps train the worst of Latin America's dictators, death-squad torturers, genocidists and military juntas is The School of the Americas, at the US Army's Fort Benning, adjacent to Columbus, Georgia. More about SOA later.

Here's a WONDERFUL introduction to an earlier generation of America's Friendly Dictators, in trading-card form:

Since I first stumbled on the Internet with my first steam-powered computer, this has been just about my all-time favorite website. In my whole lifetime, it is a High Water Mark in the intersection of journalism, education, humane politics, and great art. Cops tried to bust these people for another of their trading card series, America's Serial Killers. (Now serial killer shows are as common on TV as cooking shows.)

Just linking to these cards, I think, deserves the whole intellectual property fruit salad:

Text © 1990 Dennis Bernstein & Laura Sydell. Art © 1990 Bill Sienkiewicz
Eclipse Enterprises, P.O. Box 1099, Forestville, California 95436

If you like these cards. I've seen the set offered for sale, in original condition, on the web at very reasonable prices.

(If you don't like these cards ... well, let me know why. I'd love to hear that.)

Oh. Well. That was Then, This is Now. No more dictators -- certainly not backed and aided and supplied by the United States of America, which now only exports Freedom and Democracy.

More about Our Friendly Despots & Dictators -- TNG soon. You don't need a rocket ship to Mongo to find some really whack sovereign absolute (and homicidal) rulers, and once every year they drop in to have dinner at the White House and pose for grip-and-grin photos.

This isn't a Bush-bash. They smiled and posed with Bill and Hillary, they smile and pose with George and Laura, and whoever comes after them, Democrat or Republican -- Say Cheese!


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