January 31st, 2007

Do cry for Venezuela: the vulnerability of an easily amended Constitution

Castro’s not really dead, although most likely dying, despite his TV cameo appearance.

Chavez’s star, however, is in the ascendance, and expanding fast. He’s the new Castro, with a bigger field to play on than Castro ever had: Venezuela.

Chavez has set the stage by taking on greatly expanded powers to nationalize Venezuela’s industries as part of his campaign to “maximize socialism” in Venezuela. He plans to use his newly acquired powers to nationalize and/or control telecommunications, electricity, the oil and gas industry, and:

….dictate unspecified measures to transform state institutions; reform banking, tax, insurance and financial regulations; decide on security and defense matters such as gun regulations and military organization; and “adapt” legislation to ensure “the equal distribution of wealth” as part of a new “social and economic model.”

Okey dokey; that’s democracy, I guess. After all, as his supporters say [italics mine], “Socialism is democracy,” and, “We want to impose the dictatorship of a true democracy and ‘power to the people'” (now, just where have we heard that last phrase before?)

I haven’t followed every in and out of Chavez’s rise to power and his successful grab at more power, but I am under the distinct impression it was done with the appearance of following the rules of democracy.

You might think that, as a neocon, I champion democracy in all its guises. But the type of democracy I support (and I actually prefer a republic, but we’ll leave that aside for the moment) is one that includes a constitution that explicitly protects freedoms and individual rights, and features a system by which it is extremely hard to change that constitution and expand a leader’s powers as Chavez has done.

If you read the Reuters article carefully, you’ll note that Chavez gained his expanded powers through a vote by Venezuela’s Congress, which is at present overwhelmingly composed of his supporters. This unanimity was gained because the opposition boycotted the last election, held in 2005.

Why? Why would the opposition boycott the election of a man they knew was bent on becoming a socialist dictator? This seems so counterproductive that it’s obvious there’s much more behind it. The often-criticized Wikipedia has a lot to say on the matter. The opposition was initially afraid that fingerprint scanners would be used to match voters with results, and even though the scanners were removed the boycott proceeded. Chavez’s supporters say that the boycott reflected the fact that the opposition knew it was sunk; others say the opposition distrusted and greatly feared Chavez and his crew.

At any rate, the boycott enabled Chavez to attain–between his own party and allied parties–virtually 100% control of Congress, far more than the 2/3 it would need to amend the Constitution. One thing appears true: the election was controlled by a National Election Council totally sympathetic to Chavez, and the opposition perceived that, even if they participated, the voting would be rigged.

The entire process points out the utmost–and I mean utmost–importance of guarantees against such usurption of powers (which, by the way, Hitler used, as well, in his ascendance to becoming Fuehrer; Germany had a similar clause that allowed dictatorial powers to be given a leader by a 2/3 vote of the Reichstag, which Hitler then proceeded to abolish).

The United States, by the way, does not allow this dangerous and pernicious route to amending the Constitution (see this for our far more restrictive method). But that’s not going to help Venezuela.

The AP adds some interesting facts about Chavez’s plans:

Chavez…also has formed a commission to rewrite the constitution and expects to hold a referendum on the changes by the end of the year. Among the changes, Chavez has proposed doing away with presidential term limits to allow for indefinite re-election. Term limits currently bar him from running again in 2012.

No surprise, that. He’s on his way to becoming President for Life, despite claims that it will all be oh-so-democratic. With the opposition silenced and frightened, the entire legislature in his pocket, and the path cleared for an indefinite reign, the picture seems very ominous indeed.

I’ve often thought about our own FDR’s propensity to grab power by bending the rules, or at least tradition: the attempt to pack the Supreme Court, and his four Presidential terms. But he never changed the Constitution, he merely took advantage of its silence on certain subjects. Congress deflected his first effort, and the US Constitutional amendment process was used to change the law to fill in the gap on the second, by making the two-term limit explicit after FDR.

But back to Chavez. One possible limitation for his plans involves the fact that, paradoxically, most economies based primarily on oil don’t seem to do all that well; they are very vulnerable, and in good times have no incentive to diversify, and at the moment oil prices are “softening.” And, of course, socialist economies in general don’t have a great track record.

Even if the Venezuelan economy ends up tanking, it’s hard to see how these trends toward dictatorship can be easily reversed. Once such powers are given–especially when war is not the ostensible excuse–they are rarely taken away, except by the force of arms. That’s why, traditionally, the military has been feared by dictators as rivals in such countries–they are often the only ones who can accomplish the removal of a dictator. Unfortunately, they sometimes replace one with another.

Venezuela is a country with a built-in weakness in addition to its social and economic problems: a Constitution that allows for the easy usurpation of basic checks and balances. How many other democracies are vulnerable in this way I don’t know, although it would be an interesting thing to research. My guess is that it’s quite a few.

[For some fascinating background and eloquent commentary on the Venezuelan situation, Daniel in Venezuela has been watching the downward spiral for quite some time. Take a look at his archives: see this, for example. And here’s his description of the 2005 election; here he offers some background to it, and here is his take on how the public lost faith in the voting process in the buildup to the 2005 election.

Daniel’s summary statement:

I have written the diary of Venezuela slow descent into authoritarianism, the slow erosion of our liberties, the takeover of the country by a military caste, the surrendering of our soul to our inner demons.]

88 Responses to “Do cry for Venezuela: the vulnerability of an easily amended Constitution”

  1. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Venezuela seems to have, as do many Latin and Latin culturally influenced countries, a fascination with caudillismo. The problem with this go around is that Chavez is no Betancourt, falling on the thug side of the spectrum of caudillos.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    You might think that, as a neocon, I champion democracy in all its guises.

    Not if you are refering to me, neo. And definitely not, when you are refering to yourself.

    is one that includes a constitution that explicitly protects freedoms and individual rights, and features a system by which it is extremely hard to change that constitution and expand a leader’s powers as Chavez has done.

    But the Left, H Clinton included, doesn’t like that. They like changing the system. The more revolutionary the better.

    Why? Why would the opposition boycott the election of a man they knew was bent on becoming a socialist dictator?

    Because they believed their votes would be rigged, and that Chavez would win anyways, this time with all of the legitimacy intact.

    Analogous to the Sunnis. Except there were no better choices for the Venezuellans. If they had the power to destroy Chavez, they would have used it. But they didn’t have such power, now did they, Neo.

    Those without power suffer the consequences of that state. And the Left does not give a damn so long as America is hurt in the process and they are given the mantle of authority.

    I liked this post At the Zoo concerning this event. It ties things in quite well, neo, in my view.


    Where ever American power does not touch, the tides of darkness shall overtake across the breath of human existence.

    Such are the frailties of human beliefs and desires.

  3. snowonpine Says:

    Wonder how many perceptive Venezuelans with a well-honed sense of self preservation are headed for our shores?

  4. Fausta Says:

    Great post!

    Make no mistake: Chavez has consolidated power in a most efficient way. He’s going to hold on to power for a long long time.

  5. 'Tap' Says:

    Ahhh…the birth of a dictatorship. Jimmy must be so proud.

  6. 'Tap' Says:

    “and features a system by which it is extremely hard to change that constitution”

    Which is one reason the left are such proponents of the ‘living constitution’ scam.

    Not so hard to change it when you do it by the redefinition of the words already there.

  7. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    A dictator gives no guarantees to his subjects of their civil liberties — but who cares he “hates America” and that’s all that matters. Those Hispanics ain’t worthy of no civil liberty’s any ole way — that’s my check they biting into and ain’t no body biting into my monthly check. A bite of acerbic satire but i believe it exemplified at least morally sluggish wing of the Left and (minus the hate America part) the isolationist paleo-wing of the Right.

  8. holmes Says:

    Interestingly, Alexander Hamilton wanted a lifetime presidency- to serve during “Good behavior.”

    Also, it was the change in the Interstate Commerce interpretation that allowed the FDR administration to move forward with a number of its plans (though the change wasn’t as drastic as some think). Basically the Constitution does change now- just takes 5 out of 9.

  9. Matthew M Says:

    Tap, you’ve hit two bulls’ eyes: Jimmy Carter, and “living constitution.”

    The constitution is amendable (with appropriate difficulty) but is not pliable or “living.” The Founders wrote what they meant and meant what they wrote.

    As for Jimmy Carter, he should be bitch-slapped with his Nobel Prize. How demoralizing it must have been for Venezuelans who value liberty to see a man associated with (if not representing) the land of the free endorse their oppressor.

    There is something truly perverse about Carter, the Left, Che-chic fashionistas, and other Latin American “liberation theology” advocates claiming to have anything whatsoever to do with freedom. The long, sordid and destructive record of left-leaning “good” intentions really precludes giving such people any benefit of the doubt. The only honest evaluation is that they are knowing advocates of tyranny, who disguise their power lust with pontifications about human rights, “social justice” and other vague euphamisms for socialist despotism.

    A a good blog essay, Jimmy Carter: The Worst Ex-President in History describes his contributions to Venezuelan “democracy” here: http://tinyurl.com/yv2pxl

  10. Will Franklin Says:

    I don’t get it.

    East Berlin/West Berlin
    East Germany/West Germany
    North Korea/South Korea
    Cuba/South Florida
    Vermont/New Hampshire

    And so on and so forth.

    Aren’t there enough historical experiments by now to render socialism entirely dead? I really don’t get it. How does this evil idea even continue at this point?

  11. Lee Says:

    Most people who still have “faith” in such systems insist that “true”, or “pure” socialism or communism works, but past experiences failed because of “flawed” or “incompetent” leaders who strayed from ideology or weren’t strong enough to implement correctly.

  12. Ymarsakar Says:

    How does this evil idea even continue at this point?

    Because human nature doesn’t change. They are as easy to manipulate now, with the same tools of socialism, promises, and false slogans, as we were 2000 years ago.

    The Left puppet masters, high ranking manipulators, understand this principle. Which is why they get to be in power, and everyone else are just jacked up zombies.

  13. Roy Greenwell Says:

    “How does this evil idea even continue at this point?”

    That’s an easy one to answer.

    It is because there are still too many people in this world who want something for nothing.

  14. DeShawn Q. Williams Says:

    “Chavez has set the stage by taking on greatly expanded powers…”

    Aha…so has Bush, I note — overriding congressional restraint. Welcome to the era of the expanded executive powers.

    I get it…

    When Bush does it, it’s ok. But if Chavez does it, it’s not ok.

    How Orwellian.

  15. Lee Says:

    DeShawn, what “Congressional restraint” are you talking about? Non-binding resolutions, or just simply bitching that they were elected by “the people”(as in “People’s Republic) for afformentioned purpose. “Real” Congressional restraint would involve putting “the people’s” money where their mouth’s are.

  16. Ariel Says:

    1. President Bush has not declared himself a Fascist, but Chavez has declared himself a communist.
    2. Bush is not rewriting the Constitution, Chavez is.
    3. Bush will step down in 2008, Chavez has said that there is no reason a President can’t serve indefinitely.
    I could go on but what is the point? You can’t seem to make real distinctions in degree, no insult intended, but an observation.

    I remember a particularly nasty troll going on about Chavez and democracy, Chavez has no authortarian plans, Chavez was elected by the people, ad nauseum, while calling some of the commenters here “idiots” because they said he was a dictator in the making and likely a communist. Chavez is now proving the “idiots” right and the arrogant ass wrong. (I do believe it will be, of course, the fault of the U.S.A. that Chavez went Communist and had to be the Caudillo of Venezuela. Don’t you agree?)

  17. a guy in pajamas Says:

    dictatorship of a true democracy

    Marx’s term was the dictatorship of the proletariat.

  18. Zeno Says:

    “Socialism” is a scam, and it still exists for the same reason that all others scams and gullible people falling for them still exist.
    Of course, it would be better if so many in the media or in the “intellectual circles” did not push this nonsense.

  19. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “Because they believed their votes would be rigged, and that Chavez would win anyways, this time with all of the legitimacy intact.”

    No excuse, that. That’s just like committing suicide because life isn’t fair.

    I’m going to hope it had a lot more to do with Chavez supporters scaring opposition voters away from the polls with hit lists and death threats. Otherwise, the opposition is going to get the government it, too, deserves.

  20. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    “How Orwellian.”

    How devoid of reasoned perspective.

    Chavez, by seizing total power (and he has), dismisses civil liberties to his whim.

  21. Sergey Says:

    Chaves has a predecessor, Allende of Chile. After three years of socialist experiment economics swoop, and Army interfered to end the failed experiment. The problem is that there is no Pinochet in Venezuela, at least now.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    When Bush does it, it’s ok. But if Chavez does it, it’s not ok.

    Since bush didn’t do it, why is it a problem?

    If Bush could overide the Congress, he wouldn’t even need a veto.

  23. Sally Says:

    It’s a sad spectacle, certainly, but I’d say let Venezuela fall into its own little version of the Castro-ish socialist paradise. All those who can get out — including those with brains, skill, or any other resources — will get out, and the rest will enjoy fighting over the spoils while they last. Which, even given the oil, won’t be that long. Then, for all but that miserable few — we have them here too,obviously — who derive grim satisfaction from seeing that at least none of their neighbors is better off than themselves, the enjoyment will be over.

    Unlike Allende, then, I’d say leave Chavez and his supporters to stew in their own juice — unless there begins to appear real evidence that he’s providing a haven, aid, and comfort for terrorists or terrorist activities (as that bearhug with Ahmadenijad might indicate). At that point, he’ll have painted a big red target on himself, and should not be long for this world.

  24. neoneoconned Says:

    “Where ever American power does not touch, the tides of darkness shall overtake across the breath of human existence.”

    well as an example of arrogant nonsense i think this is probably perfect. Like it ir not America is not perfect; it is arguably not the best, my it even has flaws. Better than Iran – certainly. Better than Venezuala, quite probably, especially if you are wealthy. Better than Sweden? arguably not in terms of social justice and equality (although i have to admit to not liking Sweden much). But to say
    “Where ever American power does not touch, the tides of darkness shall overtake across the breath of human existence.”
    is nonsense and underlies many of the weaknesses of the neocon position. If you start all debates with the assumption that America is best and knows best then you are going to annoy a lot of people who are not American.

  25. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Take Sweden for instance, without American military security — where would that free-loading welfare state be today?

  26. Sally Says:

    If you start all debates with the assumption that America is best and knows best then you are going to annoy a lot of people who are not American.

    That, even though it comes from an old troll, is actually reasonable. What’s not reasonable is the assumption that “neocons” commonly do this — they don’t. Neocons do, however, have a fairly clear idea of what is better — unlike left-liberal relativists who think it’s “nuanced” to speak in terms of a “global test” — and they view such values as the basis for an American (or any other) foreign policy that can be both practical and just.

    Fwiw, I don’t think Sweden, even — or, I suppose, especially — the mythical “Sweden” of leftist imagination, particularly represents anything resembling justice, “social” or otherwise.

  27. holmes Says:

    Now, should we “talk” with Chavez now? And if we do talk with him, are we later allowed to attack him if he, say, tries to take over the rest of South America? Or would we have “created” him at that point because we bought his oil and have pictures of him shaking hands with US diplomats? I get so confused by Liberal diplomacy.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    The problem with Venezuela is this, Sally: first, there’s the human cost to the people of Venezuela. I’m still enough of a bleeding heart to care (although I certainly don’t recommend an invasion!) Then, there’s the example to others, who might see just how well the naked power grab worked–how vulnerable constitutional safeguards can be under such a system–and try to do the same. Then, there’s Chavez’s habit of sucking up to Iran; not sure what the consequences will be, but it’s certainly not a good thing for Iran to have an ally there. And lastly, we buy a lot of Venezuelan oil. Chavez also (according to Daniel in Venezuela) usess the power of his oil to put all sorts of pressure on neighboring countries who might also be dependent on his oil.

  29. Sergey Says:

    I feel urged to declare it again: the best thing US can do to promote democracy everywhere is to collapse oil prices. This is the last resource of tyrannies and terrorists around the globe, and when it gone, no further socialist experiments of any kind would be possible.

  30. Wild Rice Says:

    Take Sweden for instance, without American military security — where would that free-loading welfare state be today?“:

    It would be located on the western shores of the Baltic Sea nad the Gulf of Bothnia. Where do you think it would be?

  31. Sally Says:

    Yes, I’m not denying Chavez is a problem, and a particularly acute one for the people of his own country. There’s no denying, however, that the idea of taking some people’s money away from them and sharing it amongst others exerts a certain power on certain groups, particularly the ignorant and the envious, who always imagine that they themselves will be among the looters rather than the looted. And it does seem as though, however temporarily, such people are in the majority in Venezuela now — which is why my own heart isn’t quite so … bleeding. But I’m quite confident that, if we leave him, as I say, to stew in his own juice, the example he’s setting will soon become negative rather than positive.

    I think you make an excellent point regarding Iran, though, neo, and Sergey, as usual, makes an excellent one re: oil.

  32. Wild Rice Says:

    …is to collapse oil prices.“:

    And how much we do this?

  33. stumbley Says:

    “Where do you think it would be?”

    Oh, same place geographically, but as a former member of the Soviet bloc (remember, this is without American military security) all those shiny Volvos would look a lot like Yugos.

    And the Swedish problem with alcohol would be double.

  34. stumbley Says:

    “And how much we do this?”

    I’m assuming you actually mean “how would we do this?”…

    Drill in ANWR. Develop the oil shale in Colorado.
    Build more nuclear plants (you know, like France). Drive hybrids (a really good idea). Tell Al Gore to stop using private jets to fly to Global Warming conferences. Tell John Travolta to give up his private 707…stuff like that.

  35. Wild Rice Says:

    …and Army interfered to end the failed experiment.“:

    It executed a bloody, violent coup. It then continued the assault against the constitution by trashing the rule of law and abolishing human rights.

  36. Wild Rice Says:

    …but as a former member of the Soviet bloc…“:


  37. Wild Rice Says:

    Drive hybrids…“:

    Of all your suggestions this is the only one that might have a small effect on the oil price.

  38. Wild Rice Says:

    …there’s Chavez’s habit of sucking up to Iran…“:

    And that’s a problem?

  39. stumbley Says:

    “Of all your suggestions this is the only one that might have a small effect on the oil price”

    Sorry. If we produced 80% of our electrical power by nuclear means, as the French do, we would severely limit our use of oil. We could also be net exporters of oil instead of importers, if we were to develop the fields we already know about in ANWR and the Gulf of Mexico. Oil shale is still a relatively unknown quantity, but likely to produce billions of barrels.

  40. Sally Says:

    Responding to Riceroni’s drive-by inanities is a waste of space-time, but the oil-supply issue is a significant one. Oil shale is one huge untapped source, and Canadian oil sands are being developed now. The cost of extracting the oil from these sources is high, making the product pricey, but that in turn should help spur development of alternative energy sources that we’ll need eventually anyway. I doubt that that would end tyrannies, of the socialist variety or any other, but it would certainly take away a major current prop for a number of them.

  41. Wild Rice Says:


    Do you have any evidence to support your assertions?

  42. Ymarsakar Says:

    Everyone already hates America, and that enmity won’t go down until they have to deal with America, face to face, and hand to hand.

    Always easy to hate that which you don’t have to deal with. Such masters of manipulation like the Palestinians know this quite well.

    Power is a pure thing. What it crushes, stays crushed. What it breathes life into, stays alive. Until crushed that is.

    The point is rather that people will hate Neo-Neocon, totally independent of how much power she has over their lives.

    But when met against real power, the power as presented by a Tiannaman square for example, or a Hama Rule, or even a simple thing as the Secret Police of various countries around the world, then and only then will people understand. They might still hate, but they will now hate from understanding, instead of just brainwashing and ignorance.

    America’s power is a derivative, of sorts, of what we see enacted in this world.

    Meaning, all power while being pure, is not equal. Some are more effective and stable than others. Some kinds of power are built and derived from purer and more good sources. Other kinds of power were developed and achieved through blood sacrifices, which isn’t as pure.

    America’s power is of such a nature that it actively fights against the forces of darkness, despair, chaos, and disorder.

    Where it is actively defeated and overcome, pure chaos and death will reign. Where the power of America contests with the power of the Soviets for example, even a physical wall might be built out of the sorrows and regrets of such a conflict.

    But even the light must make way to the darkness, as we see everytime in which American power is extended across the globe. It stays and touches a people for a time… a short time, and then it leaves, it retreats back into the origins of the light.

    So it is a rather ongoing struggle. Of the light against the darkness, and the darkness against the light.

    This has been America’s history for some centuries now.

    The power of America is not complete. Meaning if you only have the power of the light, then you are only operating at 50% maximum duty cycle. The power of darkness is a corruptive presence, it all enveloping, in that it fatigues and lays waste to life. If America attempted to use the power of light and hope to push back the power of despair, we ourselves would fall prey to the enervating energies of darkness itself. Our treasury spent, our lifeblood shed, nothing more than a tasty morsel to be snatched up by predators. Such was the light of South Vietnam extinguished. The darkness is not permanent either, but during such ages without light and hope, much despair resulted.

    The struggle between one and the other thing is reflected in the human soul. Good and evil. Order and chaos. life and death. Peace and war. Are we ever fully human without both parts? Are pacifists utilizing the complete power of their souls by shunning violence and war?

    This connects to America

  43. Ymarsakar Says:

    You can check out the rest, I’m not going through the trouble of haloscan, here.


  44. stumbley Says:

    “Do you have any evidence to support your assertions?”


    “at a price of $30 per barrel, between 3 and 10.4 billion barrels are estimated.” USGS on ANWR


    There are more, but I don’t have time to cite them all. Current US nuclear energy production supplies about 20% of our generating needs, according to the DOE. If we boosted that to 80% (like France), we’d free up other energy sources for things like charging electric cars, more electric mass transit, etc., thereby decreasing our need for oil to fuel transportation. Get it?

  45. Promethea Says:

    “…there’s Chavez’s habit of sucking up to Iran…”:

    And that’s a problem?
    Wild Rice | 02.01.07 – 4:35 pm | #

    Wild Rice…why do you even bother to post on Neo’s blog? Based on the above quoted comment, you are now officially a “scrollover.”

  46. Wild Rice Says:

    …between 3 and 10.4 billion barrels…“:

    Which will make no difference to the price at all. 6.5 bbl is simply not a sufficient quantity.

    The thing about Oil Shale is, apart from energy input and pollution, is water.

  47. stumbley Says:

    Then I guess, WR, that you’d agree that it’s important that we provide some security in the ME to preserve the world’s supply of oil, that we would be justified in attempting to enable the creation of another democratic ally in the region.

    If not, then I’m assuming that of course you’d like the Islamic fundamentalists to have their hands on all that oil, so as to control the economic lifeblood of the West and dictate how we should live.

  48. Wild Rice Says:

    …that it’s important that we provide some security in the ME to preserve the world’s supply of oil…“:

    That’s just another way of asking what “our oil is doing beneath their sands”.

    If not, then I’m assuming…“:

    False dichotomy.

  49. Loyal Achates Says:

    Chavez is a volatile figure. Unfortunately for his opponents, the Venezuelan opposition has already proved itself not only willing but intending to abolish all democratic institutions and rights, as it proved when Pedro Carmona seized power in 2002.

  50. Lee Says:

    Sweden, actually was in the National Socialist sphere of influence. In fact, Hitler’s only source of iron was Sweden(the mines at Gallivarre in the north). When the Baltic Sea froze over in winter, the only warm-water port to access it was Narvik, Norway(Thus, Hitler’s invasion of Norway to guarantee such shipments, and likewise British expedition to Narvik to interdict such shipments). Without American power touching Europe, they would still be an economic ally, if not outright satellite of Nazi Germany.

  51. Wild Rice Says:

    …only source of iron was Sweden…“:

    Sweden followed a free trade policy. This did not make them an “economic ally” of Germany.

    …hey would still be an economic ally…“:

    This assumes that Germany would have won WWII, and that Sweden was no longer able to follow a free trade policy.

  52. Lee Says:

    WR, if Sweden’s policy was “free trade”, why didn’t they sell iron to the Allies? Or, are you saying as long as anyone had money, it doesn’t matter that they enabled global domination and genocide. Many of the same reasons you oppose the west for, isn’t it? Or just talking out of both sides of your mouth again?

  53. Lee Says:

    Because, in 1940, it was obvious to EVERYONE that Nazi Germany was destined to lose, huh?

  54. Lee Says:

    Good GOD, WR, in the few days I’ve been in this forum, all you do is come across like John Cleese in the arguement clinic: “This isn’t an arguement, this is just contradiction.” “No, it isn’t.”

  55. Sally Says:

    Good GOD, WR, in the few days I’ve been in this forum, all you do is come across like John Cleese in the arguement clinic:

    That’s because he’s what’s known as a troll, Lee — all he’s doing is pulling your chain.

  56. Robert Agard Says:

    Does anyone remember the huge throngs of people who marched in Caracas prior to the election? If people were willing to express themselves so visibly then, it is hard to understand why they would not vote just one week later.

  57. Lee Says:

    Thanks, Sally. For a minute there, I actually thought he really BELIEVED this s@#%.

  58. Loyal Achates Says:

    So what if one could afford an expansive welfare state AND mlitary power? Would that be OK?

  59. Whodeenie Says:

    Here is something you might find interesting regarding the “enabling law”:


    Among other things, “This is the third time Chavez has received such authorization during his presidency and Chavez is the fifth Venezuelan president to take advantage of this power, which both the 1961 and the 1999 constitutions permit.”

  60. Jungle Mom Says:

    But the proir times were limited to emergency and only in the area of finance, and only for a short immediate time .This is very different. I have been quietly reading, and wondering if any of you actually live in Venezuela?
    The opposition didn’t vote because it is known that the vote is not secret, you can read it on the internet, my goodness, the man in charge of the recall election is now the vice -president! A position appointed by Chavez as a payback. Their are lists showing who voted against the regime and if you did…no place for your kids in the schools, loss of jobs, etc. This has been going on for well over 2 years.
    He controls the assembly, the cout, the electoral councel…
    As for the Ahmadenijad remark…you better worry!!

  61. Wild Rice Says:

    …you can read it on the internet…“:

    On the Internet! Wow. Proof positive! There is nothing more authoritative than some person making a outrageous claims on a Web site.

    When you say that “it is known that the vote is not secret” what exactly do do mean by “known”.

  62. Sally Says:

    When you say ‘what exactly do do mean by “known”‘, what exactly do you mean by “mean”?

  63. stumbley Says:

    WR, my guess is that Jungle Mom is actually a Venezuelan, so her information is probably more than just from “reading on the internet”. I’m basing this on her use of language and the question “I’m wondering if any of you actually live in Venezuela?”

    In any event, your information is more relevant hers because?

  64. 'Tap' Says:

    When you say “what exactly do do mean by “known”, what exactly do you mean by “do do”?

  65. Wild Rice Says:

    …my guess is that Jungle Mom is actually a Venezuelan…“:

    If that is the case it would be very fortuitous for her. It would make it much easier for her to produce the evidence supporting her assertion.

  66. Jungle Mom Says:

    The list is available on the govenments web site and ackowledged by the government. It was published by a pro chavez deputy, named Luis Tascon. The government asked for the list and it was given to them. No one here in the governement tries to deny it. The fellow who delivered it is now Vice-President.
    I am limited in saying much more.

  67. Sally Says:

    For people new here, it’s worth pointing out that types like “Wild Rice” are what are commonly known as “trolls”, meaning that their sole purpose is just to bait, distract, irritate, highjack discussions, and muddy the waters. They have a limited and recognizable repertoire with which to do this, including making a series of short interjections, and constantly demanding that others jump through hoops they set up and move at will — as in, “It would make it much easier for her to produce the evidence supporting her assertion”.

    In short, they’re not serious, they’re just pulling your chain — and hoping to disrupt any genuine discussion that might otherwise occur.

  68. Wild Rice Says:

    The list is available on the govenments web site and ackowledged by the government.“:

    Strangely, I cannot find a list of voters’ ballots on “the government’s web site”. No doubt they have removed it.

  69. Jungle Mom Says:

    Nope, but I will not jump through more “hoops”. The problem is you obviously do not know which government institution would be the one to post it and I doubt you read spanish.
    Nor have you been to renew your paperwork and been told by the officials , exactly where you stand on these issues, as he reads it from his computer.

  70. Wild Rice Says:

    …I will not…“:

    You could have saved yourself a lot of typing if you had just said “the list does not exist” rather than the rather remarkable spin that you did type. And it also would have had the advantage of being much more truthful.

  71. Sally Says:

    Riceroni, of course, could have saved himself a lot of typing if he’d just admit that he has nothing whatever to say but spin.

    Again, for those unfamiliar with the behavior of trolls, it’s enough to say that, for example, Jungle Mom’s assertions are plausible on the face of them. If an honest debater then wanted to challenge them, he or she would do so by making a counter assertion, which they would then back up with evidence. That would require a little knowledge or a little work or both — neither of which Ricey here has or is capable of. Deal with honest opponents, certainly, but ignore the likes of him.

  72. Sally Says:

    By the way, whenever he does risk making an assertion of his own, Wild Rice himself has not the slightest compunction about inventing fantasies and even outright lying. Like any troll, he just ignores any attempt to point out the lie, and moves to another topic. Another reason to just delete him.

  73. 'Tap' Says:

    WR is more like a caricature of a troll. It’s as if wr read that discription Neo so kindly provided in her Cold Hubris post, combined it with with the properties of a troll, and set out to be the most ludicrously exaggerated example of the two she could imagine.

    WR must have a biiig imagination.

  74. 'Tap' Says:

    WR: “If that is the case it would be very fortuitous for her. It would make it much easier for her to produce the evidence supporting her assertion.”

    Ah, yes, WR, you’re as right as you always are. Jungle Mom is so LUCKY to be a Venezuelan at this moment in time. I’m mean, what’s the loss of her liberty compared to the opportunity to provide evidence to you?

  75. Whodeenie Says:

    Information on the database,called the Maisanta databse, Jungle Mom is referring to can be easily found on the Web.

    Here is a link to an article on PBS that mentions it:


    It is also referred to here along with reasons why progressives should not support Hugo Chavez:


  76. HLVS Says:

    Ah yes, but the database itself remains elusive, like some sort of political unicorn.

  77. DeShawn Q. Williams Says:

    “The list is available on the govenments web site and ackowledged by the government.”

    What is the URL (address) of the web site?

  78. DeShawn Q. Williams Says:

    It is also referred to here along with reasons why progressives should not support Hugo Chavez

    And here’s an article (by Michael Leibowitz of Simon Fraser University, who currently lives in Venezuela) about why progressives should support Chavez:


  79. Wild Rice Says:

    Here is a link to an article…“:

    I have seen it mentioned many times before. However, Jungle Mom has claimed the list was on a government Web site. But, of course, she is unable to post the link.

  80. Sally Says:

    But, of course, she is unable to post the link.

    Not at all — she’s simply unwilling to jump through your hoops, as she said. If you wish to make a contrary point, do so, and provide links supporting them yourself.

  81. HLVS Says:

    Posting a link isn’t ‘jumping through hoops’, and by asking for it, WR IS making his point. Jungle Mom claims a list, WR asks to see it, Jungle Mom refuses. I know the neocons are all about ‘faith-based intelligence’, but this is ridiculous.

  82. Republicrat Says:

    Going back to the issue of oil rich dictators:

    Even if the US curbs its oil consumption, that will have small impact on the world oil demand. Reactors, hybrids, wind, solar, tidal power, conservation and cold fusion (B^>) – are all potentially good things in terms of reducing our dependency, meaning that our direct personal interests will be away from our own desire to control the oil for our own consumption. But there lies the rub – unless we can change the game for the world, the global demand for oil will continue to make oil dictators rich. And like others here have expressed, it’s where they spend their riches that makes me nervous.

    I would suggest that the only things that will drive the US toward energy independence are 1)more wars over oil and 2)socialist government agendas promoting research and alternative consumption.

    Oil wars will drive the oil markets crazy, making alternatives more economical and drawing private investment. At $70 per barrel, most oil alternatives will draw investment.

    So what about Government sponsored approaches? Let’s get on the same page about “socialism”. I mean government sponsored action. There is plenty of divergence about what constitutes socialism, but classically, socialism states that the means of production are owned by the workers, or that property and the distribution of wealth are subject to social control. Some would simply take it to mean “theft of private property by governments”. While I do recognize that stance, let’s see if we can agree on a definition like “Government acting on behalf of the populace, without explicit consent of private economic interests.” This definition allows that sometimes private interests will see governments acting on their behalf, and sometimes they will not.

    It seems to me that if Government acts on behalf of the population to create – whether job programs, vaccines, or regulations, then those actions have a socialist component. Each of these has an element of moving economic resources (from some to others) according to a social dictate. By this definition a federal initiative to allow ANWR drilling is a form of socialism. It would be an example of the government directing the source of and distribution of wealth, even if oil leases are auctioned. Perhaps you do not consider that socialism, but for the sake of this discussion, please work with me on the definition. I welcome your comments.

    Socialism is certainly something that most societies have more or less of. I don’t believe that in Sweden that the biggest manufacturers are owned by the workers or the government. What I remember of that economy is that an immense amount of wealth is in a few hands. Check out the ownership of the major Swedish corporations. I can’t remember exactly, but I remember from my visits there and discussions with the locals that this is the case. What Sweden does have is social policy which limits the amount of wealth that can be created and

  83. Jungle Mom Says:

    Still here, no jumping. Dont need to. Anyone know what is going on in Venezuela today?

  84. HLVS Says:

    I did Google his name. The Tascon list can no longer be found, as Chavez has ordered it ‘buried’ to prevent political persecution against those who signed it. It may be available somewhere on the Internet, but I couldn’t find it.

  85. Sally Says:

    The Tascon list can no longer be found, as Chavez has ordered it ‘buried’ to prevent political persecution against those who signed it.

    The list may well have bee “buried” for any of a number of propaganda purposes. But since its existence has been amply demonstrated on a number of sites, the attempt to deny it now — whether by yourself or Riceroni — is clearly just playing into those propaganda purposes, whether consciously or not.

  86. Wild Rice Says:

    …on a number of sites…“:

    On the Internet! You don’t say!

    Looks like we have gone full circle and returned here.

  87. Sally Says:

    On the Internet! You don’t say!

    I do say! Look it up! Even if your search skills are limited, the practice will do you good.

  88. Republicrat Says:

    Hi Anon

    By my thinking, if the federal government allows drilling in ANWR, it will be according to some federal scheme. The wealth under the ground will be distributed to someone. I contend that this wealth distribution constitutes a social plan, and has socialist elements. Just because the wealth goes to corporate entities or stockholders doesn’t change the idea of wealth re-distribution. I know it may be hard to consider that socialism, but it is a plan for wealth re-distribution. I liken it to selling timber rights to public lands.

    In the case of ANWR, the wealth goes from being into the ground, into the pockets of the companies who by whatever means gain the rights to remove it. That’s redistribution of wealth. Even if the companies pay for leases, that “lease” money goes into the federal coffers for redistribution. That’s by definition socialism. I suppose it could be argued that oil in the ground has no value, but then if that was true we probably wouldn’t be in Iraq, would we?

    My contention is that once we establish something as a public trust, any action to sell, divide, parse, reassign, trade, has socialist elements.

    For me, the whole deal of drilling ANWR is based on selling a public interest, and that’s a social policy for public wealth redistribution, don’t you think?

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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