Tag Archives: dictators

The Impact of Santa Claus on Afghanistan’s Presidential Election

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard from Americans who are afraid of what’s happening in this country.  People are mad (and confused) about healthcare reform.  We’re concerned that the administration is leading us down the wrong path. With a government full of communists, illegal immigrants, Nazis, and Kenyans, perhaps our fear is justified.

Well, on the day of the Afghanistan presidential election, here is one more group whom we should fear: men with beards.

Yup, beards.  As in, chin warmers, mustache buddies, and neck rugs.

ahmadinejadWhy should we fear facial hair?  Personally, I believe that beards reflect poor judgment.  It’s coarse, it gathers crumbs, and it rarely makes one more attractive.  It also seems terribly uncomfortable: especially in the summer, I imagine it’s like wearing a fur hat around your face.  (If Santa Claus lived in Miami, he wouldn’t need a beard.)  So naturally, people who choose to have beards are either a) irrational, b) trying to hide something, or c) preparing for Christmastime.

nobeardMy beard theory is grounded in strict empirical evidence.  For example, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a world leader with a beard.  Barack Obama doesn’t have one, Gordon Brown doesn’t have one, and Angela Merkel (hopefully) can’t grow one.  I could think of only one significant bearded world leader, and that’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the crazy President of Iran.  (See?  Beard = bad judgment = psychotic dictator of Iran.  The transitive properties of mathematics don’t lie.)  If you think it’s a cultural thing, just check out the clean-shaven faces of other Muslim leaders: Zardari of Pakistan, Talabani of Iraq, and Mubarak of Egypt.  And while Kim Jong Il proves that beardless men can be psychotic dictators too, it’s never a sure thing unless you have a beard (see below).

bharrisonAre there exceptions to the rule?  Of course.  But at the very least, having a beard is just bad luck.  The last U.S. president to have a beard took office over a century ago.  Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Harrison (1881) is probably one of the most obscure presidents ever.  Before him, James Garfield had been the most recent President with a beard.  Out of 47 U.S. presidents, only five had beards, and both Lincoln and Garfield were shot and killed.

afghanistan copyThis is what makes the Afghanistan election so troubling.  Two of the three top contenders in the race have beards.  Incumbent President Hamid Karzai has overseen his corrupt regime with a full face beard.  Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister and eye doctor, has a rapidly graying beard and very few friends in Washington.  The only beardless contender is longshot Ashraf Ghani, who has a Ph.D from Columbia, a resume that includes a stint at the World Bank, and a puff piece in the New York Times.

So, Afghanistan, what’s it going to be?  Five more years of furry faces, or a pick that will shock the world?



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Dictators… They’re Just Like Us!

I often wonder what our society would be like if people actually cared about politics around the world.  Thus, I propose a new theme for the next issue of Us Weekly; let’s keep it entertaining, but let’s also make it educational as well.  So instead of the 12th cover featuring Jon & Kate, we thus present… Us Weekly: DICTATORS!


It’s always easier to hide shadiness behind shades.  Pinochet ruled Chile from 1974 to 1990, with democratic elections happening after he left power.  Thus, if Us Weekly asked 100 readers in Times Square “Who wore it better?”, the anti-Pinochet respondents would be summarily dismissed.  On the flip side, similar to his 2009 re-election, Us Weekly would likely confirm that ailing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il won 99.9% of the vote.  Of course, this would be reported by the Korean Central News Agency, which is run by the government.  Faux-democracy lives! 


These men are definitely representing their country… in life AND death. Robert Mugabe is the current President of Zimbabwe.  In 2008, his party lost the initial presidential election with just 43% of the vote… so, no, Mugabe did not wear it better.  However, he refused to concede, and after a wave of violence, Mugabe won 86% of votes in a run-off election to remain President.  Mao Zedong ruled Communist China for over 30 years, from 1943 to his death in 1976.  His portrait still hangs over the Tiananmen gate, but let’s be honest… he wasn’t a pretty man. 


So, is camouflage “in” again?  Omar al-Bashir is the current President of Sudan, and has been in office since 1993.  With this picture of him, is it surprising that he’s married to his cousin?  To the right of al-Bashir, Pervez Musharraf served as the President of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008.  Musharraf’s regime as “dictator” was not as extreme as some of the other dictators in this issue, although his mustache means business.  Lastly, Hugo Chávez also may not be considered a true “dictator” since he’s been re-elected since he became President of Venezuela in 1999.  However, he’s on this list because Wikipedia cites him as being a “threat to democracy in Latin America”.  If it’s on Wikipedia, then it’s obviously true.


Some quick facts about these bearded beauties… Genghis Khan: Born in the 12th century Mongolia, Genghis Khan took over several parts of modern-day Asia before mysteriously dying at age 65. Fidel Castro led the Cuban revolution and ruled over Cuba for nearly fifty years; today, his son has taken over for him as President, while Fidel shops online for retirement homes in Florida.  Saddam Hussein grew out a rather unbecoming beard after he was captured by U.S. forces in 2003; he was later executed for crimes committed when he ruled Iraq.  Henry VIII was not a dictator, but instead, the King of England in the early 16th century; he is on this list, however, because he managed to kill two of his six wives.  Ivan the Terrible: Ivan was the czar of Russia for most of the 16th century…and oh yeah, he killed his own son.  Just one, though.  Not as terrible as Henry VIII, eh?


Well, to be honest… they’re really NOT just like us.  Josef Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1922-1953, but he didn’t hug too many babies in his time; instead, it is estimated that his policies caused more than 20 million deaths during his tenure.  Benito Mussolini was Italy’s fascist dictator who ruled for over 20 years until he was captured and killed by Communists in 1943.  And lastly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the current crazy President of Iran who recently “won” re-election.  Ahmadinejad has set off waves of criticism for his anti-Semitic rants, his claim that no gay people live in Iran, and his anti-Western attitude as a whole.  But, is it possible that there’s a softer side to Mahmoud

If we can pull this off in Us Weekly, I can foresee a whole new breed of political news / entertainment.  Hey, having Rod Blagojevich’s wife on TV is a small step in the right direction.  So we’ll start with Us Weekly, and then set our sights on the news organizations themselves: “Next, on E! True Hollywood Story…Ahmadinejad and friends: Where are they now?”

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