Hugo Chavez Still Sucks


The big Latin American news of the week was Lula's smashing comeback victory in Brazil, but even better news is coming out of Ecuador. Left-wing economist Rafael Correa, a vocal ally of Hugo Chavez, was supposed to win the country's presidential election in the first round. But he dramatically underperformed polls, placed second after billionaire Alvaro Noboa, and is by all appearances heading to a bruising at the conservative candidate's hands. It looks like Chavez's loud meddling in his neighbors' backyards is backfiring. Again. And the U.S.'s own official grumbling about Chavez—which always wins him sympathy—has quieted down. There's some grassroots angst about Venezuela and electronic voting machines and theories about Venezuela sneaking al Qaeda over the border, but that doesn't have the impact of Rumseld calling Chavez "Hitler."

For more Latin America, go here.

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  1. Good, good. I’ve long held that when we shut up and let our enemies’ actions speak for themselves, we get more sympathy. Face it, we’re bad at making propaganda, but our wealth and freedom speak loud enough when we let them do the talking.

  2. Perhaps we should have been taking the same approach in the Middle East.

  3. I’m still amazed that anyone would trust an electronic voting machine. Hackers out there are cheating electronic slot machines and hacking National Defense computers. I don’t understand how computers and other modern electronic devices work, but some people do know how they work and will rig them to do what they want. If Venezuela doesn’t fix our elections someone else will.
    Bring back the hanging chads.

  4. Rumsfeld fucked up again. It should be Lenin, duh.

  5. “I’m still amazed that anyone would trust an electronic voting machine.”

    I am not too worried about it. The electronic machines that I have used aren’t PC’s, they are not connected to a phone jack or any network. I was an election commissioner (poll worker) in Louisiana and think that cheating would require a massive conspiracy. Each machine had two tape cassettes that recorded each vote. There is a public counter on the front and a workers counter on the back that is checked against the list of people who voted periodically. A physical receipt is printed out with the vote count at each machine and sent to be counted. This is later checked against the magnetic tape from the machine. So there is no place in the system to use a virus or hacking to change the vote, unless you could get to each machine individually and somehow cover you tracks.

  6. “A physical receipt is printed out with the vote count at each machine and sent to be counted.”

    I think so long as a receipt is printed, and a paper trail created, it would be difficult to rig the machines and get away with it.

  7. Sounds good, sam_h, but try and convince the masses. Neither side will e-voting as legit.

    The left never met a conspiracy theory it didn’t like:

    “How to Hack the Vote and Steal the Election”

    “The Diebold Voting-Machine Hack”

    “Will the Next Election Be Hacked?”

    and of course, now one for the right:
    “Venezuelan Interest In U.S. Voting Software”

  8. I see nothing wrong with a nice, uncomplicated paper ballot like the one I’ll use in this election…

  9. I’m less sanguine than sam_h. In a marginal district, a few dishonest people in a few poling stations could tip it.

    sam_h’s reference to the “physical receipt” is ambiguous. I think he means a receipt of the totals recorded, not a physical record of each vote. I would be much more comfortable with the latter.

    That being said, ballot-box stuffing is a time-honored tradition, the addition of machines just adds another potential way of doing it.

  10. Ballot-stuffing should be labor-intensive. If elections are to be thrown, they should be thrown by a large enough group of people to prove that there’s some level of support.

    With electronic machines, one guy can elect Mickey Mouse if he wants. (Of course, that would be fitting considering our mickey mouse election system).

  11. Comparing Chavez to Hitler … and I thought I had heard Rumsfeld say just about every dumb thing it was possible to say.

    I suppose I won’t be laughing when the Venezualan hordes overrun Guyana and cause another World War.

  12. While the machines individually arent plugged into a phone line, as I understand it that data is transferred OUT of the machine over a line.
    And its not a case of stuffing ballot boxes-ie, manufacturing thousands of votes. Without getting into complicated conspiracies that are meaningless speculation, the mechanical fact is a few machines, in tied precincts, can tip the vote. That can be done by programming the machine to switch cast votes when a preestablished % is reached. Its been done on Diebold machines, in demonstrations. Easily, it seems.
    But then you get into hundreds of people- all the techs across the country that tweaked machines in select precincts. Right there that rules it out: too many people.
    Far easier, w/ fewer hands, to tweak the results as its being collected centrally. Which happens over phone lines.
    Ill take a paper ballot, thank you.

  13. “sam_h’s reference to the “physical receipt” is ambiguous. I think he means a receipt of the totals recorded, not a physical record of each vote. I would be much more comfortable with the latter.”

    You are correct, the paper slips are totals from each machine. I agree there should be a slip for each voter, if for no other reason then to make people feel better. I am just saying I am not really worried about the machines I worked with.

    The magnetic drums, however, are records of each vote, just like a slip of paper. At the end of the night we printed out the tallys for each machine and hang them up on the wall outside of the polling place. We also mail a copy to three diffrent places, and deliver the drums to the sec of state and to the parish.

  14. If an election is so close as in the scenario MUTT brought up, what’s the big deal if somebody’s thumb is on the scale? If it’s 51-49 or 49-51, it’s practically a coin toss anyway, and if one side cheats, they’re not cheating the other side much.

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