Some aspects of dictatorship -- at least of certain kinds of dictatorship -- are irresistibly funny. This has to do with what happens when a man possessed of a colossal ego finds himself in a position where that ego goes completely unchecked. Many dictatorships of both the right and the left share certain characteristics. The leader lives in luxury while his people go hungry. He has huge monuments erected to himself -- palaces, statues, gem-encrusted thrones, entire government ministries, the occasional opera. He takes on a title, such as Father of the Nation or Beloved Leader, and his image -- usually clad in full military regalia -- becomes ubiquitous on posters, stamps and currency. Information is replaced by sloganeering, inconvenient facts disappear, and language is twisted to suit the dictator's needs. Think Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, Bokassa, Hitler, Castro. Eventually, the dictator begins to believe that he can make reality bend to his will. Saddam Hussein, for example, seemed to feel he could repel U.S. forces with sheer bombast in press releases and... More >>>