The Ghost of Snapped Shot

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Daily Dictator

It would appear that Bashar al-Assad, the darling of Nancy Pelosi, has graciously allowed himself to be re-elected to another 7-year term of dictatorship running the DNC's foreign policy. Here's to another 7 years of silly pictures of chinless ophthalmologists.

For the record, winning "97 percent" of the vote by cowing the populace via brutal violence does not make one the "elected leader" of anything, much less a nation worthy of being called "free."

Unless you happen to be a "favoured" member of the Socialist elite, in which case your praises will be sung by such widely diverse thinkers as "Red" Nancy Pelosi, Michael "Flabmeister" Moore, and Hugo "Killed the TV Star" Chavez.

"This is a giant victory for chinlessness!"

The local population of public employees (hint to you DNC members: Public employees are employed by Assad) made an effort to celebrate the occasion. While it couldn't possibly live up to Cuba's half-century of practice at these faux-genuine celebrations, I'll be rounding up the pics below, so you can see the wonders of freedom for yourself.

A Free and Thoughtful Electorate

Would a citizenry not under compulsion feel the need to wear stylized Chinless(tm) t-shirts to the voting booth?

Syrian officers cast their ballots wearing t-shirts with the portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at a polling station in Damascus, 27 May 2007. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has won a second seven-year mandate after netting 97 percent of the vote in a referendum boycotted by the opposition.(AFP/File/Hassan Ammar)

A Syrian woman casts her ballot wearing a t-shirt with the portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at a polling station in Damascus. The results of Syria's referendum to endorse a second term in office for Assad will be announced on Tuesday, a day later than expected.(AFP/Hassan Ammar)

Syrian clerics cast their ballots at a polling station in Damascus. Syrians were voting in a no-contest referendum to give Assad another seven years at the helm, in the face of an opposition boycott and a crackdown on dissidents.(AFP/Hassan Ammar)

I mean, I can't see what the problem is. They have a bulletproof method of preventing voting fraud:

A Syrian voter posts his voting form, stamped with blood on the green circle to vote 'yes', in a ballot box in Damascus Sunday May 27, 2007. Syrians are expected to elect President Bashar Assad to a second, seven-year term in a referendum Sunday that would further consolidate his autocratic rule. Assad is the sole candidate, but voters can either approve or reject a second term. Most of the nearly 13 million eligible voters are expected to support a second term for Assad. (AP Photo Bassem Tellawi).

"You may vote anything you'd like... So long as you vote 'Yes.'"

Of course, if you happen to be "independent" enough to voluntarily vote "No" to re-elect the little chinless guy, there's DNA evidence to track you down with.

I'm sure this is one method of "voting reform" that the Democratic Party would stand firmly behind.

In this next one, all I can say is, "Gee, I wonder how she voted?"

A woman votes in the Presidential referendum at the Syrian embassy in Amman May 27, 2007. Syrians went to the polls on Sunday to re-elect President Bashar al-Assad for a second term in a ballot for which he was the only candidate allowed to run. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed (JORDAN)

And finally, the old "populist" gets to vote himself, to prove that the system is as free as he DEMANDS! it be. I'm sure he even had to stand in a loooooong line himself to get there, just like one of "De People."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad casts his ballot in Damascus. Syrians were voting in a no-contest referendum to give Assad another seven years at the helm, in the face of an opposition boycott and a crackdown on dissidents.(AFP/Louai Beshara)

Let's Celebrate!

Here's the local (captive) population's reaction to the re-election of the Glorious Socialist Leader.

Syrian public employees celebrate the victory of President Bashar al-Assad in a referendum, in Damascus May 29, 2007. Syrian President al-Assad won 97.62 percent of the vote in a referendum that confirmed him for a second 7-year term, Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majeed said on Tuesday. REUTERS / Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

Syrian public employees celebrate the victory of President Bashar al-Assad in a referendum, in Damascus May 29, 2007. Syrian President al-Assad won 97.62 percent of the vote in a referendum that confirmed him for a second 7-year term, Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majeed said on Tuesday. REUTERS / Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

Syrian public employees celebrate the victory of President Bashar al-Assad in a referendum, in Damascus May 29, 2007. Syrian President al-Assad won 97.62 percent of the vote in a referendum that confirmed him for a second 7-year term, Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majeed said on Tuesday. REUTERS / Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

A banner hung across a street reads 'congratulations' to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus Syria Tuesday May 29, 2007. Assad was re-elected for a second seven-year term in office after winning 97.62 percent of votes in a national referendum, Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdul-Majid announced Tuesday. Syrians voted in a referendum Sunday to endorse President Bashar Assad, the only candidate, for a second term.(AP Photo Bassem Tellawi).

 Tags: hassan ammar bassem tellawi muhammed hamed louai beshara khaled al-hariri AFP AP REUTERS #Dictatorship


#1 Roger+Williams 30-May-2007
Damn, I really want one of those Bashar al-Assad t-shirts. As dictators go, Junior is small fry, especially compared the monster his old man was, but I really can't get enough of dictator memorabilia. Memo to the Syrian Baath Party: shopping link, please!
#2 Brian C. Ledbetter 30-May-2007
I bet Nancy Pelosi could get you a good deal on 'em.


Most Respectfully,
#3 Jonathon 17-Jul-2007
Where in the hell are you getting this "socialist" nonsense? Syria is socialist? Give me a freaking break.

At best, the Baath party is just another authoritarian, nationalist party like the Nazis - who also used the "socialist" label to bring a populist sentiment to their totalitarian philosophy. Syria is about as socialist as Texas, in reality.

I know that you guys like to throw around words like "socialist" like mud, but I doubt you'd even know a real socialist if he walked up and hit you across the back of the head with a baseball bat.
#4 Brian C. Ledbetter 17-Jul-2007
Labels aside, you'll notice that each of the nations listed below (a) call [i]themselves[/i] socialist, and (b) were noted for a distinct lack of "open" election proceedings (or specifically, a history of openly-rigged elections):

* The Union of Soviet "Socialist" Republics
* Tito's Yugoslavia
* Saddam Hussein's Iraq
* Bashir al-Assad's Syria
* Fidel Castro's Cuba
* Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

You'll notice that each nation listed here had "open" elections which "all" of the populace were "invited" to participate in, and each and every one managed to continually elect a cadre of ruling elites by a wide majority (typically 97-99% of the vote).

I'm merely being "culturally diverse" (to borrow an apellation that people of [i]your[/i] persuasion insist on bandying about tirelessly) in pointing out the "Socialism" that these nations are adopting for themselves.

In a world where theft is law, there is [i]no[/i] freedom. You can thank Karl Marx for that world, as he's the one that brought it about on such a wide scale.

#5 Brian C. Ledbetter 17-Jul-2007
Oh, I did neglect to mention one other thing:

Each and every nation mentioned in my list above had [b]nationalized industries[/b], which is a [i]hallmark[/i] feature of "Socialism."

What the heck are they [i]teaching[/i] in schools these days, anyway?

#6 Jonathon 17-Jul-2007
Just because someone uses a label doesn't mean it is correct. None of the countries you list (except for Venezuela - which shouldn't even be there) had any history of democracy prior to their revolutions and none of them reached the level of capitalist development before the revolution that Marx indicated was practically a requirement before a successful workers' state could be established.

The USSR was "socialist" in that it had state-owned industries, but it was by no means Marxian socialism. After Lenin's stroke, the Stalinist wing of the party took control and went for authoritarianism instead of Marxist socialism. Russia had a desperate, dismal and feudal system with almost no industrialization. Socialism, as Marx defined it, could never have taken root there because their economy and their labor force wasn't advanced enough yet.

Yugoslavia was a client state of the USSR, as well as having limited industrialization prior to Soviet involvement. See above.

Saddam's Iraq was "socialist" in that it had state-owned businesses, but again it wasn't Marxist. The Baathists were just Arab versions of Nazis - who also misappropriated the socialist label. Saddam was an authoritarian, not a socialist.

Hugo Chavez' Venezuela isn't (yet) socialist and is by no means a totalitarian system. He's come closer to Marxist socialism than anyone outside of Europe - but he still has a long way to go. Comparing Venezuela to the USSR, Cuba, China, etc. is like comparing apples and oranges, my friend. Just because Faux News labels him a threat just don't make it so!

And don't blame Marx for the failures of the USSR and other "socialist" systems. They didn't follow his "recipe" and were doomed to failure. If you want to see real, Marxist socialism you should look more closely at Northern Europe where they come nearer and nearer to it every day.

Do some homework, Brian. Read the Manifesto and see for yourself what Marx envisioned. You'll understand where I am coming from once you get the facts.
#7 Jonathon 17-Jul-2007
One more thing, Brian. You left North Korea off your list. They're "socialist" too, aren't they?

The official name for North Korea is the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea", i.e., the DPRK. So this would seem to claim that they are (1) democratic and (2) a popular republic. Of course, they are neither. The Juche system in the DPRK allows for no democracy, no debate, no challenge to the existing power structure, i.e., the "Dear Leader". But following the logic you laid down, they should be assumed to be a democratic republic, right, like the United States?

Again... just because someone labels themselves as something doesn't mean that they're telling the truth. I can call myself Latino all day, but even if I speak fluent Spanish, get a good tan and hang out with Mexicans all day I am still a just a Euromutt white boy from North Georgia.

PS: Don't assume that you know my "persuasion" from the content of a couple of comment posts. Just like I can't assume, from your negative remarks about Pelosi and others, that you are a mouthbreathing, braindead neoconservative. We are all much more complex than the assumptions we make about one another. That, IMHO, is what makes the world an interesting place.

PPS: I really do like your site, particularly the coverage of "Rage Boy". Keep up the great work.
#8 Brian C. Ledbetter 17-Jul-2007

Thank you for the additional details, but my distaste for confiscatory states far outweighs any chance of me budging towards the Socialist side of the argument. The policies that Marx sparked, even if they don't follow his recipe exactly, are responsible for more death, destruction, and poverty than *any* other force in the world. That I can say with confidence.

Even if Stalin != Marx, the policies that Stalin followed were *directly* enabled by the foundation of Marxism laid down in Russia.

Heck, I forgot about it initially, but the same can be said of Chairman Mao's China.

Or Kim Jong-Il's North Korea.

None of these nations have thriving economies, nor great amounts of "freedom." This is [i]not[/i] a coincidence, and it is [i]not[/i] for lack of "civilisation" beforehand.

By the way, how's that "Scandinavian" socialism going for Sweden? It's my understanding that, thanks to socalist largesse, a majority of young people there are actually electing [i]not[/i] to work, but instead collect welfare cheques for doing nothing now. I can't imagine that would be all that great for productivity w/r/t their gross national product.

('Course, they've gone down the [i]other[/i] path towards seeking workers, which I understand has also caused something of a headache in Malmö... though it is leading to some rather entertaining pronouncements. Can't have everything, eh?)

Again, thanks for stopping by.

#9 Jonathon 17-Jul-2007
Brian, I am not trying to make you into a socialist. I am simply pointing out that the usage of the term in the context of people like Assad, the Baathists, etc. is inaccurate and by associating monsters like Assad, Saddam, Stalin, etc. with socialism does the real socialist movement a great disservice.

Marx laid down the foundation for a communal, socialist economy and society. He died long before Stalin reached power. You can't hold Marx responsible for Stalin's brutality, even if Stalin claimed to be a "communist" or even a "Marxist". Stalin twisted Marx's ideas to such a degree that he ignored the entire POINT of socialism. Soviet authoritarianism itself was anathema to Marx's idea of a free and egalitarian society.

I challenge you on your "confident" notion that Marxism is "responsible for more death, destruction, and poverty than any other force in the world." I think that you will find that the culprit who is responsible for the bulk of these problems is RELIGION, not Marx or socialism. More men have been killed in the name of God than by any other ideology. Jews, Christians and Muslims all have a legacy of blood that was inherited from those who twisted religion to suit their own ends. In fact, people are still being slaughtered each and every day in the name of God. Is Jesus or the apostle Paul (for example) guilty of murder just because someone who came after them twisted their words and ideas and killed in the name of Christianity?

Had Marx lived to see the Soviet revolution, he'd have been appalled. Had he lived to see the terrors of Stalin and Mao, he'd go out of his mind. True socialists, true Marxists and true liberals recoil from the dictatorships and authoritarian systems implemented in the name of "socialism". Socialism is freedom, not slavery.

I'll have to get back to you on the specifics you mentioned re: Sweden. I need to do a bit more research into the details of the employment situation to answer your comment in any detail. However, the notion that people can opt out of working and live off the dole doesn't make sense in a socialist context - or any other, quite frankly. Someone has to work, or else there won't be any dole for anyone.

You mentioned Malmö, by which I assume you're referring to the problem Sweden is having with its Muslim immigrants. I am not sure what that has to do with socialism, per se, but Sweden is struggling like other European nations to deal with an immigrant population that won't integrate. I'd love to discuss multicultualism and the inability of Muslims to participate in multicultural societies, but that's another conversation altogether.

Thanks for an engaging discussion.
#10 Brian C. Ledbetter 17-Jul-2007

Regarding North Korea, it's worth noting that the ideal of "Juche" is something of a plagiarized version of pre-Stalinist socialism. Heck, it's even common enough knowledge to have made Wiki. So, in that respect, no I wouldn't even [i]think[/i] of calling them a "Republic," their official title notwithstanding, since the principles adopted by their government are [b]of their own admission[/b] socialist in nature. See:

[quote]Kim Il-sung outlined the three fundamental principles of Juche in his April 14, 1965, speech “On [b]Socialist[/b] Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. The principles are "independence in politics" (chaju), "self-sustenance in the economy" (charip) and "self-defense in national defence" (chawi).[/quote]

And don't you think it's rather, well, religious of yourself to be advocating Socialism so, well, religiously? In that sense of the word, I might be inclined to agree with your statement about "religion," but still stand by inference that "socialism" (pure Marxist or not) has killed more people than religion. From the French Revolution (the bloody [i]birth[/i] of rotten egalitarianism), to Hitler's National Socialist party, to Stalin's Russia, to Mao's China:—I think the 100 million dead souls speak for themselves. And as far as religions go, once you get past the political correct hyperbole, I think you'll quickly find that all were not equally bloodthirsty, but alas, if we're comparing the "Religion of Religion" to the "Religion of Marx," I don't think we'll get anywhere, fast.

Everything I say is predicated over my understanding of the inherent evil in human nature, and in human behaviour. The "original sin" leading to the "fallen state," if you will. I think if you read any history book, written during [i]any[/i] century in history, there is [i]ample[/i] evidence that mankind can [i]not[/i] live at peace with itself, and that utopian ideals continually fail to compensate for it. If you're operating off of a different set of basic assumptions, there's not really much point in trying to argue over it, as we'll most likely never reach any form of mutual consent—though the conversation is [i]definitely[/i] intriguing.

In any case, thank you for the kind words re: some of my other topics. I do hope you stick around to keep me honest in as much as you can!

Respectfully yours,
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