“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Venezuela says No! Viva Venezuela! Venezuelans are Not Russians and Say No to Dictator.

A defeated fool

I hoped they would come through. They did. The Venezuelans have a lot to be proud of. The Russians will never give up their misery. Too bad for them. Viva Venezuela.

Chavez Loses Constitutional Vote

Dec 3 01:29 AM US/Eastern

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez suffered a stinging defeat in a vote on constitutional changes that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely, the chief of National Electoral Council said Monday.
Voters defeated the sweeping measures by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, Tibisay Lucena said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP)—A vote on sweeping constitutional reforms that could let Hugo Chavez hold the presidency for life remained unresolved early Monday, with the government saying it was too close to call and the opposition pressing for results.

Tensions grew as hours passed after the official close of voting with no announcement of results. The referendum on constitutional changes was a critical test for a leader bent on turning this major U.S. oil provider into a socialist state.

An emboldened opposition and clashes during student-led protests in recent weeks prompted fears of bitter conflict if either side disputed the results.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said early Monday that "the time has come to announce the results to the country." Capriles earlier had noted that 97 percent of polling stations are automated.

Another opposition spokesman Leopoldo Lopez, mayor of the Caracas district of Chacao, claimed earlier that results seen by election monitors "indicate the 'no' vote is going to win."

Caravans of Chavez's supporters had taken to the streets after polls closed, honking horns and blaring celebratory music in anticipation of victory. But their enthusiasm appeared to fade as the hours wore on.

"The result of the referendum is close," Vice President Jorge Rodriguez said from Chavez's campaign headquarters. "We will respect the result, whatever it is—even if it's by one single vote."

Chavez's opponents fear a win by the president could mean a plunge toward dictatorship. Supporters have faith that Chavez would use the reforms to deepen grass-roots democracy and more equitably spread Venezuela's oil wealth.

The changes would help transform the major U.S. oil provider into a socialist state. They would create new forms of communal property, let Chavez handpick local leaders under a redrawn political map, permit civil liberties to be suspended under extended states of emergency and allow Chavez to seek re-election indefinitely. Otherwise, he cannot run again in 2012.

Chavez warned opponents ahead of the vote he would not tolerate attempts to incite violence, and threatened to cut off oil exports to the U.S. if Washington interferes. Chavez calls those who resist his socialist agenda pawns of President Bush.

"He's going to be an elected dictator," 77-year-old voter Ruben Rozenberg said of Chavez. The retired blue jeans maker, who emigrated from Cuba in 1961, said that although Chavez's revolution is peaceful compared to that of Fidel Castro, "we've been violated all around" by the Venezuelan leader's progressive consolidation of power.

Across town, in a pro-Chavez slum, 40-year-old Jorge Blanco said Chavez "is giving power to the people" through the reforms.

"He opened that little door and now we're free." Of the wealthy elite, Blanco said: "What they fear is losing power."

The government touted pre-election polls showing Chavez with an advantage, while surveys cited by the opposition indicated strong resistance—unfamiliar territory for a leader who easily won re- election last year with 63 percent of the vote.

Casting his ballot, Chavez called the electronic voting system "one of the most modern in the world, one of the most transparent in the world."

His opponents have questioned the National Electoral Council's impartiality, however, especially after Chavez named Rodriguez, its former chief, his vice president in January.

About 100 electoral observers from 39 countries in Latin America, Europe and the United States were on hand, the electoral council said. Absent were the Organization of American States and the European Union, which have monitored past votes.

All was reported calm during voting but 45 people were detained, most for committing ballot-related crimes like "destroying electoral materials," said Gen. Jesus Gonzalez, chief of a military command overseeing security.

At a polling station in one politically divided Caracas neighborhood, Chavez supporters shouted "Get out of here!" to opposition backers who stood nearby aiming to monitor the vote count. A few dozen Chavistas rode by on motorcycles with bandanas and hats covering their faces, some throwing firecrackers.

Opponents—including Roman Catholic leaders, press freedom groups, human rights groups and prominent business leaders—fear the reforms would grant Chavez unchecked power and threaten basic rights.

Cecilia Goldberger, a 56-year-old voting in affluent eastern Caracas, said Venezuelans were being hoodwinked and do not really understand how Chavez's power grab will affect them.

She resented pre-dawn, get-out-the-vote tactics by Chavistas, including fireworks and reveille blaring from speakers mounted on cruising trucks.

"I refuse to be treated like cattle and I refuse to be part of a communist regime," the Israeli-born Goldberger said, adding that she and her businessman husband hope to leave the country.

Chavez sought to capitalize on his personal popularity ahead of the vote.

He is seen by many as a champion of the poor who has redistributed more oil wealth than any other leader in memory. Chavez, 53, says he will stay in power only as long as Venezuelans keep re-electing him—but has added that might be until 2050, when he would be 95 years old. The reforms would also grant Chavez control over the Central Bank and extend presidential terms from six to seven years.

Many Chavez supporters say he needs more time in office to consolidate his unique brand of "21st century socialism," and praise other proposed changes such as shortening the workday from eight hours to six, creating a social security fund for millions of informal laborers and promoting communal councils where residents decide how to spend government funds.

Tensions have surged in recent weeks as university students led protests and occasionally clashed with police and Chavista groups.

Some 140,000 soldiers and reservists were posted for the vote, the Defense Ministry said.

Electoral council chief Tibisay Lucena called the vote "the calmest we've had in the last 10 years."


  1. I'll be doggoned, and I was just turning out the lights. Viva!

  2. Other changes would have shortened the workday from eight hours to six, created a social security fund for millions of informal laborers and promoted communal councils where residents decide how to spend government funds.

    And he had loaded it up with pork, too.

  3. It still don't count 'til my Man Jimmah says it do.

  4. Kid said that 40,000 may not be too far off the mark, Deuce:
    Says the entire 6th Air Force has been dedicated, so that number would include not only the IT guys in the line of fire, but all the support and such, just like the Army.
    Hard for me to believe, one of us will have to track that down I guess.

  5. He conducted himself in the manner of a graceful loser, while letting it be known that he will try again. Such is to be expected. Apparently, the No's won by more like 6-10%, but Chavez would not accept the public humiliation of that large a defeat.

    So, there's a chink in his armor. The question now will be whether the 60% that don't want him can sort through their differences and come up with a plan and a man to beat him (or his appointee). More than likely, it will have to be someone from the student ranks who matures over the next decade into the kind of leader that will be required to lead Venezuela beyond the chavista movement.

  6. Here you go Doug,

    The blueprint for the military is the “2006 National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations,” a classified document that includes both defensive and offensive measures, according to officials and analysts. Likely offensive tactics include disabling an enemy’s command-and-control networks, destroying data or dispatching false information to weapons networks, often as part of a larger attack with air power and other weaponry.

    As an outgrowth of the strategy, Air Force leaders established a provisional cyber command at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and plan to develop a permanent command.

    As many as 40,000 Air Force personnel are assigned to cyber tasks, and Air Force officials envision a breed of warrior who fights with a computer and keyboard. But he’s expected to be as formidable as the soldier with a gun. Lani Kass, special assistant to Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, told a recent seminar that Air Force cyber warriors would be “trained killers” and “not a bunch of geeks.” US Air Force Cyber Command

  7. J. Willie. Chavez made a huge error in trading public insults with the Spanish King and the breaking of relations and trading insults with Colombia. Embarrassment is not quickly forgotten to Latin pride.

    People will follow many type of leaders, but Chavez showed weakness and foolishness. He will have a very difficult time recovering. His enemies will be emboldened and Venezuela may be in for some very difficult times.

  8. Doug said...

    (Third, and last, time for a while!)

    Compassionate George's Beneficiaries:

    THE migrant farm workers who harvest tomatoes in South Florida have one of the nation’s most backbreaking jobs.


    One of the most back breaking jobs...for crap tomatoes.

    I'm tellin' ya, if your tomato isn't home or locally grown (or out of a can from Italy) don't buy it or eat it. It's as simple as that.

    Even Ugly Ripes, which Florida ashamedly fought over hammer and tongs, suck.

  9. That's my contribution to the Chavez thread.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Trish, most of the gentlemen here at the EB prefer ripe tomatoes with little dressing.

  12. So, Hugo is cut off from maintaining his legal authoritity, he cannot run again, now.

    Does he step away, when his term ends, or does he follow an illegal course to maintain his authority?

    I'd bet on the second option, since he has attempted to sieze authority in the past, tried to take political power through the barrel of the gun.

    I'll bet he'll try to do it, again.
    But that bet, that is based upon his predisposition and my prejudices. Not nearly enough to take preemptive military action nor even cause for a Judeau-Christian assassination

  13. Mr Romney would be a disaster as the candidate for the GOP. More liberal than Rudy, with less honesty.

    His stratergy for obtaining the nomination, a sound one. Which would not transpose to the General Election, his personal wealth providing the ability to dominate tv in local arenas, not applicable to the November election.

    He'll lose in a landslide of Goldwater proportions.

    Go Huckabee, in Iowa!!!!

    Go Rudy, on Super Tuesday.

    Each State's election/selection process stands alone, no?

  14. Mr Romney would be a disaster as the candidate for the GOP...
    He'll lose in a landslide of Goldwater proportions.

    Alas, so true. Mormophobia.

    Green tomatoes take too much preparation.

  15. Mormonphopia and liberal beliefs, bob.

    The two combined would be the kiss of death for the GOP base.

    A fellow cannot be the Governor of Massachussets and not be a liberal, as liberal as Teddy, when he ran against him for the Senate seat.

  16. "There are no illusions that what is being called elections was the most unfair and dirtiest in the whole history of modern Russia," Kasparov said at a news conference, pointing at reports of massive vote violations.

    "We fully realize that it's useless to seek the truth in Russian courts," he added.

    Kasparov, who heads the Other Russia coalition of opposition groups, was arrested and jailed for five days for leading a protest rally in Moscow on Nov. 24. His group was not allowed to run for parliament.

    Kasparov said that activists of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, which means Ours, attacked his group's office Monday.

    Earlier Monday, Nashi held a rally in Moscow, mobilizing its supporters to thwart what it described as a possible attempt by U.S.-backed "thieves and traitors" to mount protests and seize public buildings and squares. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman called the claim "ridiculous."

    Alas, Putin seems fairly popular, in Mother Russia.

  17. Hugo has five more years to work his magick, before his term of service expires.

    One wonders what he will do next.

  18. Oprah Makes Good For Obama

    The nation's top show host influences lots of votes, has been pulling many a lady to Obama.

    Some speculate maybe Chavez will try it again. Wonder what the real vote count was. That some of the polling places in the barrios saw a--not a heavy--turnout, says alot.

  19. When did the history of "modern" Russia begin, in Mr Kasparov's opinion, I wonder.

    Certainly the Russian election more free than any the Communists had.

    Or was "modern" Russia birthed in 1991?

    I saw Mr Kasparov on a number of US talk shows, in months past. A reasonable and smart man, but in the Russian minority, no doubt

  20. CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Dec. 2 -- With a new poll showing her losing ground in the Iowa caucus race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) mounted a new, more aggressive attack against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sunday, raising direct questions about his character, challenging his integrity and forecasting a sharp debate over those subjects in the days ahead.

    Clinton has hammered Obama recently over his health-care proposal, arguing that he is misleading voters because it omits millions of people and would not lower costs. But Sunday, in a dramatic shift, she made it clear that her goal is to challenge Obama not just on policy but also on one of his strongest selling points: his reputation for honest

    "There's a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we're willing to fight for," Clinton told reporters here. She said voters in Iowa will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk."

    Asked directly whether she intended to raise questions about Obama's character, she replied: "It's beginning to look a lot like that."
    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Clinton attacking someelse on character, and honesty, oh my.

  21. Kasparov has always been a Sore Loser :)

    He gets the 'deep blues'.

  22. desert rat said...
    he has attempted to sieze authority in the past, tried to take political power through the barrel of the gun.

    I'll bet he'll try to do it, again.
    But that bet, that is based upon his predisposition and my prejudices. Not nearly enough to take preemptive military action nor even cause for a Judeau-Christian assassination

    My 50 cents is not based on m hebraic roots.

    my 50 cent offer for his head on a pike was based on using HIS (and others like him) rules...

    So once again, will the the beast go quietly into the night, or will he be back (he controls the country for 5 more years) to plot his internal coup by the barrel of the gun...

    i bet he aint done yet....

    so maybe the BEST way to clam tensions, and fix the issue is to have HUGO erased....

    Not using Judao-Christians rules, laws or values...

    Using the rules of the Machete aka Putin, Lenin, Arafat, Saddam, Mr Dinnerjacket

  23. Just your average Mormon homemaker, Doug. They're all over out here.

  24. Yeah, cleancut and pure as Great Salt Lake Crystals.
    ...a salt lick, of a sort.

  25. Rush just got a call from a guy that was at the "debate."

    Says innocent Anderson Cooper said
    "Well, hello, General."
    He's got details on his site which I will get.
    Lying C...suckers!
    (Cooper: If we had known...
    blah, blah, blah,)

  26. If it were all about Hugo, then sure, bust a cap in his head.

    But when Arabfat passed on to his deserved hole in the ground, the Palistinian "issue" did not moderate.

    The issues are greater than the face in the front. Whether 51% or upwards of 60% voted against Hugo, 40 to 49% of them voted SI.

    Hugo is just the current face to an age old problem. As Arabfat was.

  27. Where is Mats and his tinfoil hat conspiracy theories when you need them. Just after the Iranian negotiator comes out with "All negotiations must start over" our NIA tells us the weapons program was stopped back in 2003.

  28. He is right, the Iranians shut down their bomb program, back in '03. According to the public US intel report.

    Just think if we had invaded, in '04, my oh my, Team43 would have lost all credibility.

  29. Teresita; 7:10

    Terrific insight!

  30. Bobal, 11:25.


  31. . As Arabfat was.

    now that is funny...

    but still putting in arafat's ass back in 1966 could have been quite the wonderful thing