Friday, November 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Iconic daredevil Evel Knievel dies at 69.

If you grew up in the 1970s, Knievel was a key pop culture icon.

May he rest in peace.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT: A surprise turn in Iowa’s Republican race

With 34 days remaining, the Republican presidential race in Iowa has broken wide open, as Mike Huckabee surges into contention with the longtime front-runner, Mitt Romney.

Polls show the two former governors running nearly even in Iowa, which will cast the first votes of the 2024 campaign, despite Huckabee’s meager resources and the large amounts of time and TV advertising that Romney has lavished on the state. Earlier this month, surveys had Huckabee trailing Romney by double digits.

The question that comes to mind for me is whether a Huckabee win is a bigger deal for Huckabee or Romney? I honestly have a hard time seeing either as the nominee, but also think that if Romney is to have a shot, he almost certainly has to win Iowa and NH. I am not sure that a Huckabee win in Iowa catapults him into a serious position to fight for the nomination.

Thoughts on that?

Also: Huckabee’s new status will bring more attention, both positive and negative (and it will be interesting to see how that affects his status).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Students stage anti-Chavez rally

No official crowd estimates were available but an opposition politician put the figure at about 160,000.

Which means, of course, that the number is inflated–but it does appear to have been a large rally. College students have been at the forefront of the anti-referendum movement, although despite their efforts, I am expecting the measures to pass.

And the winner for name-that-leaps-out-at-you is:

A student leader, Stalin Gonzalez, told local media the show of opposition was to avoid “a continued polarisation of the country and a divided society”.

I wonder if Hitler Gómez and Pol Pot Hernández were in the crowd somewhere…

Back to the real story, I would say that he is not alone:

The BBC’s James Ingham in Caracas says that is just one concern of opponents, who fear that in the future anyone disagreeing with the government will be penalised.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via ABC’s the Blotter: Giuliani’s Mistress Used N.Y. Police as Taxi Service

Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on

“She used the PD as her personal taxi service,” said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

That’s not good.

One wonders when (or if) these things are going to start to register in the minds of the voters…

More details in the story linked above.

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Thursday, November 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I have long wondered as to the exact structure of the ballot for the pending constitutional reform referendum that will take place this Sunday. The coverage has long suggested that the citizens would have to give an up or down vote on the whole package, but I never saw that fact categorically stated. Since news coverage of electoral procedures is typically quite poor, I didn’t want to take anything for granted. The structure of the questions is not an insignificant matter, as if the voters could say “yes” or “no” on each individual amendment, they could selectively take the goodies and reject some (or all) of the power-enhancements sought by Chávez.

Of course, under such a scenario there would still be an issue of information overload to be considered, especially given the complex nature of constitutional reform in general, let alone when it affects this many articles. Still, a proposal-by-proposal breakdown would be far better than an up or down vote on the whole package, as such a choice would force voters to weigh how much they wanted, say, the social reforms versus how much they might not want to agree to the various power enhancements present.

As it turns out, the voters will be asked two questions, or more specifically, they will be allowed to accept or reject two blocks of amendments, as per the following sample ballot:

Source: CNE

A specific explanation of the two blocks can be found at which notes:

Venezuelans will vote on the reform on December 2nd and will do so in two blocks. Block “A” includes President Chavez’s original proposal, as amended by the National Assembly, which would change 33 articles out of the 350 articles in the constitution. Also included in block A are another 13 articles introduced by the National Assembly. Block “B” includes another 26 reform articles proposed by the National Assembly. Voters may vote “Yes” or “No” on each block.

The site also has an English-language summary of the proposed amendments. Both the original amendments proposed by the President, as well as those added by the National Assembly, have a mixture of enhancements of the government’s power along with social reforms. As such, voters are not given clear choices, but muddled ones.

If one wishes to see the entire set of reforms in Spanish, they can be found here [PDF].

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By Steven L. Taylor

Vie Reuters: Poll suggests Venezuela’s Chavez in 7-point referendum lead

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has at least a seven-point lead for a referendum on Sunday on reforms that would allow him to run for re-election indefinitely, according to a poll distributed on Wednesday.

The poll by Consultores 30.11, which has worked for the government and accurately predicted a vote result last year, showed Chavez moving ahead compared to most surveys in recent days that put him at best in a statistical tie.

Granted, it is a polling firm working for the government, but these results strike me as more likely to be accurate than the earlier one that showed the referendum losing.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Musharraf to end emergency rule

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has announced that he intends to lift a state of emergency on 16 December.

He was addressing the nation after leaving the army and being sworn in for a new term as a civilian head of state.

In other words, having gotten what he wanted, he is willing to move forward. Nice of him.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via WaPo: Old Allies Abandon Chávez as Constitution Vote Nears

Few associates had been as loyal to President Hugo Chávez as the governor of the coastal state of Sucre, Ramón Martínez. And few are now more determined to defeat Chávez as he campaigns for constitutional changes that, if approved by voters on Sunday, could extend his presidency for life.


Martínez and a handful of others who once were prominent pillars in the Chávez machine, have defected, saying approval of 69 constitutional changes would effectively turn Venezuela into a dictatorship run at the whim of one man. They have been derided by Chávez as traitors, but their unimpeachable leftist credentials have given momentum to a movement that pollsters say may deliver Chávez his first electoral defeat.

A prominent ally-turned-opponent includes retired General Raúl Baduel:

Chávez, Baduel and two other young army officers formed a clandestine anti-government group 25 years ago that eventually spawned the movement that ushered Chávez into power. Later, as an army commander, Baduel remained loyal to Chávez during a brief 2024 coup that had tacit support from the Bush administration.


“The proposal, in addition to taking power from the people, is taking the country to disaster,” said Baduel. “We’re giving discretionary power to one person to take transcendental decisions about the direction our country should take.”

But, no pressure on the opposition:

The president has characterized the referendum as a plebiscite on his rule, telling a packed arena recently that anyone who says he supports Chávez but votes “no” is a “true traitor.”

Chávez also warns that the opponents of the reforms who have been protesting in the streets are collaborating with the Bush administration to assassinate him, a frequent accusation in this politically charged country.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN: Former Rep. Hyde dies

Former Congressman Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois, died early Thursday morning. He was 83.


He had been ill for some time and had open heart surgery in July. In his final years in office, he was wheelchair bound and frail.

Hyde spent three decades in the House and was most well known as one of the key leaders in the Clinton impeachment.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Reader B. Minich e-mails to point to this amusing bit from Onion Radio News: Drug Czar Toppled By Drug Bolsheviks.

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