Saturday, December 01, 2007

Keeping an Eye On Venezuelan Elections

Risk of Deceptions in Venezuelan Referendum, CEPR Warns

Recent History Shows Use of Fake Polls, Other Efforts
to Undermine Credibility of Electoral Process

For Immediate Release: November 28, 2007
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-293-5380 x104

WASHINGTON, D.C. - There is a significant risk that
fraudulent polls and other deceptions will be used to
challenge the results of Venezuela's referendum, if
proposed constitutional reforms are approved this
Sunday, according to Center for Economic and Policy
Research (CEPR) economist and Co-Director Mark

"The international media has not always exercised due
diligence in its reporting on polling data and
elections in Venezuela," said Weisbrot, who has
authored papers on previous elections there.

"This opens up the possibility for the use of fake
polling, as was done in the last (2004) referendum, to
cast doubt on the results if the proposed
constitutional reforms are approved," he said.

In 2004, the influential U.S. polling firm Penn,
Schoen, and Berland published fake exit polls on the
day of the Presidential recall referendum, showing
President Hugo Chávez losing by a 59-41 margin.(1) The
actual results, which were certified by observer
missions from the Organization of American States and
the Atlanta-based Carter Center, showed the opposite,
with Chávez winning by a margin of 58 to 41 percent.(2)

The fake exit polls were not the only dubious polls
that plagued the last referendum. Most of the pre-
election polls in 2004 showed the race "too close to
call." Although these were conducted by opposition
pollsters, most of the international media accepted
them in their reporting. As CEPR demonstrated at the
time, it is extremely unlikely that a properly
conducted poll could have shown a result that was "too
close to call."

The election's credibility was also attacked by a
widely-cited statistical paper(3) purporting to show
evidence of fraud. CEPR showed that this analysis was
deeply flawed and provided no such evidence; the Carter
Center later commissioned an independent panel of
statisticians from U.S. universities, which confirmed
CEPR's finding and concluded that there was no
statistical evidence of fraud.(4)

Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal and some Latin
American media outlets used this paper and the fake
exit polls to claim that the referendum was actually
stolen through a clever electronic fraud.(5)

On this basis of such analysis and fake exit polls,
most of the opposition rejected the results of the 2004
referendum, and went on to boycott the 2005 national

In the 2006 Presidential election, Penn, Schoen and
Berland once again produced questionable polling data
showing the race to be in a " very close" just before
the election. Other pollsters, including Zogby
International, showed an 18-29 point spread favoring
Chávez.(6) According to the Miami Herald, this led to
the sudden departure of Doug Schoen – who was
responsible for the Venezuela polling – on the eve of
the election.(7) Chávez won the presidency by a margin
of 63 to 37 percent.

"The international media's reporting on the current
referendum so far is not encouraging," Weisbrot said.
He noted that on November 7th, "almost all of the U.S.
and international press reported that pro-Chávez gunmen
had fired on a crowd of peaceful protesters returning
from a demonstration against the reforms.(8) We now
know that this is not at all what happened."(9)

Weisbrot also noted that the media has given wide
coverage to a poll by Datanalisis this week showing a
defeat for the proposed reforms.(10) The firm's
longstanding ties to the opposition, and its serious
polling errors in the last referendum, were not
mentioned in the press.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an
independent, nonpartisan think tank that was
established to promote democratic debate on the most
important economic and social issues that affect
people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board of Economists
includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and
Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, Professor of
Economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum,
Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work
at Rutgers University.

CEPR receives approximately 80% of its funding from
foundations, and receives additional funds from a
growing number of individual donors. We do not receive
any funding from governments (with the exception of a
small grant from Washington State in 2003). For more
information, click here.


Center for Economic and Policy Research, 1611
Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 293-5380, Fax: (202) 588-1356, Home:

Footnotes 1 See Rosnick, David. “Polling and the
Ballot: The Venezuelan Referendum.” Center for Economic
and Policy Research. August 2004.

2 Former President Jimmy Carter noted after observing
the referendum that the opposition “deliberately
distributed this erroneous [Penn, Schoen, and Berland]
exit poll data in order to build up, not only the
expectation of victory, but also to influence the
people still standing in line.”

3 Hausmann, Ricardo; and Roberto Rigobón. “In Search of
the Black Swan: Analysis of the Statistical Evidence of
Electoral Fraud in Venezuela”. September 3, 2004.
Available here.

4 The Carter Center. “Observing the Venezuela
Presidential Recall Referendum: Comprehensive Report.”
February 2005. Available here.

5 See The Wall Street Journal. "Conned in Caracas."
September 9, 2004.

6 Angus Reid Global Monitor: Polls & Research. "Chávez
Reaches 60% in Venezuelan Election." November 28, 2006.

7 Gunson, Phil and Steven Dudley. “Sudden change at
U.S. polling firm startles Venezuelan opposition.” The
Miami Herald. December 3, 2006.

8 See e.g., The Associated Press. “Gunfire erupts after
Venezuelan students protest Chávez reforms; 8 injured.”
November 8, 2007; Bloomberg. “Venezuela Students Shot
After Anti-Chávez Protest.” November 7, 2007.

9 See the video (from opposition Globovision TV) and
the Wall Street Journal report, Lyons, John and José de
Córdoba, “To Oppose Chávez, Youth In Caracas Rally
Behind Stalin,” November 24, 2007, indicating that
shots were fired by people who came to rescue pro-
Chávez students trapped in a building that a crowed of
anti-Chávez students had surrounded and set fire to.
While all the details of the incident may never be
known, it is clear that media reports describing the
repression of peaceful demonstrators were inaccurate
and created a powerful false impression.

10 See Starchevich, Johann. “Venezuelan leader accuses
US of funding campaign to oust him.” Agence France
Presse. July 11, 2004. “A previous poll released in
June by Datanalisis showed Chávez losing 42.6 percent
57.4 percent.”


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Friday, November 30, 2007

Shirley Maclaine on Tavis Smiley

Shirley Maclaine was brilliant on Tavis Smiley tonight. She is my teacher.

Edcuador Offers Base at Manta to Beijing

I have just read that Ecuador is offering use of their military base at Manta to the Chinese. On Democracy Now a few days ago, I heard some of the pundits saying that China's military and political power is growing around the world. I think it is a beautiful thing. Viva Correa!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Palestinians are the new chosen people.

The John Legend Duet With Aretha Franklin

What'Cha Gonna Do For Me?

All night and day
Just chippin' away
It's all in a day's work
Tryin' hard to defend
The time that I spend alone
The crown that you lose
Exploiting the blues
Won't get the job done
As hard as it bites
I'm keepin' my sights on you
What cha' gonna do for me
What cha' gonna do for me
What cha' gonna do for me
When the chips are down
In the cool of the night
When nothing seems right
The feeling can take you
Strange as it seems
You make your own dreams come true
If you try to conceal
The way that you feel
You're asking for trouble
Just as sure as I cry
I'm keeping my eye on you
You don't have to tell me
I'm to blame for this
'Cause what you hold against me
Is what I miss

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tell Mama

Etta James

You thought you had found a good girl,
One to love you and give you the world
Now you find that you been misused,
Talk to me, I'll do what you choose.

Tell Mama, all about it, tell Mama, what you need
Tell Mama, what you want and how that girl does things all right

The girl you had didn't have no sense,
She wasn't worth all the time you spent
[Tell Mama lyrics on]

She had another man throw you outdoors,
Now the same man is wearing your clothes.

She would embarrass you anywhere,
She let everybody know she didn't care
Give me a chance I been begging you
I just want to take care of you.

Tell your Mama, what you want, tell your Mama, what you need
Tell your Mama, what you got to have

Barbra Endorses Hillary Clinton

Today, Barbra endorsed Hillary Clinton. I think that there are a lot of us trying to support progressive candidates. Oprah is backing Obama(as am I), while Maya Angelou also endorsed Hillary. I am pushing for a an Obama/ Clinton ticket....the order can be determined. However, I wouldnt mind Edwards either. He is soo hot. But so is Obama.
Oprah's number two hairstylist is hot.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tonight's Frontline on Wiretapping

Everyone should watch the Frontline that was on PBS tonight concerning the Bush administrations wiretapping and illegal surveillance policies. I think authority should lose its penis. However, I feel that these people can and will drown in their sea of information...They are not god...I will be picking wild flowers and enjoying the taste of sweet, delectable fruits, praising the beauty of it all.

Riots Anew in France

Read the story in the link above. Apparently the festering pot is boiling over again from 2005.

From Campaign for Peace and Democracy

Dear Friend,
We are writing to invite you to sign the Campaign for Peace and Democracy statement "Solidarity with Opponents of Proposed U.S. Military Base In the Czech Republic." The text is below. If you would like to add your name or make a tax-deductible donation to publicize the statement, please go to our website (if for any reason you have difficulty at the website, just send us an email at -- and please circulate the statement to your colleagues and friends.

Initial signers include: Michael Albert, Stanley Aronowitz, Norman Birnbaum, Noam Chomsky, Joshua Cohen, Margaret W. Crane, Gail Daneker, Ariel Dorfman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Falk, Cathey Falvo, M.D., John Feffer, Deborah Feuerman, Robert Gabrielsky, Joseph Gerson, Granny Peace Brigade, Alan Haber, Thomas Harrison, Nader Hashemi, Bill Henning, Adam Hochschild, Carol Price Husten, Doug Ireland, Leslie Kielson, Joanne Landy, Jesse Lemisch, Betty Mandell, Marvin Mandell, David Oakford, Rosemarie Pace, Charlotte Phillips, M.D., Katha Pollitt, Anna Polo, Beverly Rice, Jennifer Scarlott, Stephen R. Shalom, Ethan Vesely-Flad, Barbara Webster, Chris Wells, Cheryl Wertz, Cornel West, and Howard Zinn

The statement was delivered by a delegation of U.S. peace activists on November 16, 2007 to Ambassador Martin Palous at the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN in Manhattan. It was presented in support of Czech demonstrations against a military base the US and Czech Republic plan to set up near Prague for radar for an anti-missile system that will be based in Poland. The demonstrations were scheduled for the following day in Prague and Brno. The delegation to the Czech Mission was organized by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy. In a historical irony, CPD had assembled U.S. peace leaders to meet with Czechoslovak representatives in the same building in November 1989 to protest the repression of student demonstrations in Prague -- demonstrations that culminated in the overthrow of the undemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia. We plan to publicize this statement widely in the coming weeks. Please add your name and support.

Signers’ names and affiliations (for identification only) will be listed on the Campaign for Peace and Democracy website and in other public venues. CPD's previous statements, including "We Oppose Both Saddam Hussein and The War Against Iraq: A call for a new, democratic U.S. foreign policy” and "Iran: Neither U.S. Aggression Nor Theocratic Repression" have appeared in The New York Times , The Nation , and The Progressive , as well as on many websites and listserves in this country and abroad.

Your signature will add to the impact of the statement. Your tax deductible donation will enable us to offer crucial solidarity to our friends in the Czech Republic and to publicize broadly this declaration of opposition to yet another projection of U.S. military power.
In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison, and Jennifer Scarlott
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Please go to the CPD website at to sign, donate, or see the full list of signers.

Solidarity with Opponents of
Proposed U.S. Military Base In the Czech Republic

We, the undersigned, declare our solidarity with the November 17, 2007 protest by the “No Bases Initiative” in the Czech Republic, where demonstrations took place against the plans of the Czech government to host the radar for a U.S. anti-missile system.

The No Bases Initiative chose the date of November 17 because, in their words, this date “has come to symbolize the overthrow of the undemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia and the return of representative democracy. This change came about because of the protest of hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Prague eighteen years ago.” In the view of these Czech activists, resistance to the introduction of new foreign military bases is the most fitting way to commemorate that anniversary.

Polls have shown that a significant majority of the people in the Czech Republic oppose the U.S. military facilities, but the Czech government is flagrantly ignoring public opinion. As the No Bases Initiative notes, "Politicians had known for a number of years of U.S. plans to install a military base on Czech territory but had kept this information from the public. They didn't consider it important to tell voters before last year’s parliamentary elections either." This Saturday , Czech protestors will be calling for a popular referendum to vote on this critical issue.

The proposed new U.S. base in the Czech Republic and related interceptor missiles to be based in Poland mark a dangerous escalation. As activists from the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as from Hungary, Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom have stated, “The realisation of the US plan will not lead to enhanced security. On the contrary - it will lead to new dangers and insecurities. Although it is described as 'defensive,' in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put 'host' countries on the front line in future US wars.” (Prague Declaration, "Peace Doesn't Need New Missiles -We say no to the US missile defense system in Europe" May 2007)

Indeed, the announcement of the plans for military bases in the Czech Republic and Poland has already produced an ominous response from Russia. The projected U.S. radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in Poland don’t constitute an immediate threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrent, with its thousands of warheads, but as the New York Times pointed out on October 10 of this year, “Kremlin officials are believed to fear that the system in Central Europe will lead to a more advanced missile defense that could blunt the Russian nuclear force… Russian officials have threatened to direct their missiles toward Europe if the United States proceeds with the system. They also have said they will suspend participation in a separate treaty limiting the deployment of conventional forces in Europe.” This is an unjustified reaction, endangering innocent populations, but is part of the crazy logic of superpower confrontation that the U.S. move exacerbates.

Washington claims that the new facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic are designed to respond to a missile threat from Iran, but there is no credible evidence that such a threat exists today. And the militaristic stance of the United States, far from protecting the U.S. or Europe from such a threat in the future, only enhances its likelihood. We need only to look at the example of North Korea, where years of military threats from the United States provided a strong inducement to seek nuclear weapons for their defense.

We do not believe that any nation should develop nuclear weapons, which by their nature are weapons of vast and indiscriminate mass destruction. The United States and other nuclear powers can best reduce the danger of nuclear warfare by taking major steps toward both nuclear and conventional disarmament and refraining from waging or threatening “preventive” war -- not by expanding the nuclear threat. Such steps by the existing nuclear powers would create a political context that would powerfully discourage new countries from developing their own nuclear weapons.

Many of us, as Americans, have a particular moral responsibility to speak out. U.S. bases threaten the world. According to respected foreign policy analyst Chalmers Johnson, in 2004 the U.S. had 737 overseas military bases, not counting garrisons in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, nor U.S. military and espionage installations in the UK. This vast network of overseas bases supports a foreign policy of military interventions and global intimidation.

We are dismayed that the Czech Republic, rather than standing as a beacon for peace, is cooperating with the expansion of the Pentagon and allowing a military base to be imposed on the country. We are further dismayed by the fact that the Czech Republic recently opposed a UN resolution highlighting concerns over the military use of depleted uranium. It was one of only six countries to oppose the resolution that was supported by 122 nations. With such actions, the Czech government is doing a disservice both to its own real security, by making the Czech Republic a target, and to the prospects for peace and the spirit of November 17.

We are inspired by the principled actions of the people in the Czech Republic who are taking to the streets to resist the steps toward a new Cold War being pursued by elites unresponsive to public opinion . We join with them in a commitment to bring together the people of all countries in building an international movement for peace, democracy and social justice.

Please go to the Campaign for Peace and Democracy website at to sign, donate, or see the full list of signers.

Barbra's PSA

This is a link to that magnificent PSA that Barbra did with the Democratic Party. I urge everyone to listen.

Impeachment Articles To Get Rid of Bush-This From Barbra's Site

In The Dark
This week, a landmark House Resolution (H RES 799) calling for the investigation by the House Judiciary Committee of the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney for High Crimes and Misdemeanors passed in the House of Representatives. In an unexpected move, House Democrats along with some Republicans, voted to move the Resolution forward. H RES 799 is the first major step by Congress to hold members of the Bush Administration accountable. The Resolution, introduced by Congressman Kucinich, states that the Vice President of the United States has purposely manipulated intelligence to deceive the citizens and the congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction to justify the war in Iraq.

When 218 members of congress show a level of support to pursue the consideration of impeachment of a sitting Vice President, every major newspaper and news program in the country should be leading with this story. But that has not been the case. Not only did they not lead with this story, in nearly all cases they ignored it. Thus, Americans are probably still in the dark about these proceedings.

The last time someone in the executive branch of government was threatened with impeachment was in 1998 and this resulted from personal indiscretions. The press obsessively covered every sensational detail of the Clinton impeachment process. Clearly, we must come to the conclusion that the press does not consider major issues of national security, such as the lead up to war based on false premises, manipulating intelligence and lying to the American public as important.

In a democracy, we count on the press to be a counter check to the branches of government; we count on the press to keep the public informed. The need for an independent and strong press comes from the peoples’ right to know what our government officials are doing. So how can it be that a major issue that potentially raises concerns about high crimes and misdemeanors in the executive branch of government is not reported? Is it that corporations have such a tight strangle hold on our media that journalists no longer feel free to cover important stories in order to enlighten and educate the public? Are these corporate media moguls sacrificing a strong press in order maintain cozy relationships with high level government officials and protect their ever widening consolidation of media outlets? If so, where does that leave the American public? Sadly, I think it leaves us in the dark.

Russia to Hold Post-Annapolis Summit

I wonder if Russia's post-Annapolis summit is to counter the U.S. bullshit machinations against Iran.
There should be massive anti-U.S. agression against Iran protests outside this summit.

Annapolis Summit Sham Exposed on Democracy Now

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies on Democracy Now alerted everyone to the fact that the purpose for the Annapolis Summit being held tommorow hosted by the Bush administration is a covert attempt at bribing Arab support for U.S. machinations against Iran. Someone needs to be castrated. Solidarity with Iran and the Iranian people. Peace to all the world.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I finally saw V for Vendetta. What a fabulous movie!

Kudos to the Australians!

I am loving Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. One quote I read in the news today is that under Rudd "Under Kevin Rudd, Australia must be more egalitarian and abandon the arrogance of being the US' sheriff in Asia-Pacific. Rudd must not maintain Howard's bossy style. " I also read that he plans to offer an apology to the aborigines! Whagt a magnificent man!
I heard over the weekend that the military is asking injured soldiers to return their signing bonuses.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why Did I Get Married?

I saw Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? this weekend. I can say without reservations that it is a beautiful film. Powerful performances from Janet Jackson and Jil Scott.

Important Lecture by Elizabeth Warren

This weekend I caught a lecture by economist Elizabeth Warren on television, discussing the financial crisis in the US. Amazing and wonderful stuff. Here are some notes I took down. The largest expenses for American families are Houses, healthcare, car maintenance, childcare, and taxes. Americans spend 3/4ths of their two salary incomes on these expenses, in 1970 they spent just half of a one income salary on these costs.--In my words, there is no longer an Archie Bunker effect.-- In 1970, women just giving birth spent at least five days in the hospital, today its 24 hours, and many times thats because its required by law. Hospitals are pushing people out--sicker and quicker. There are nearly fifty million uninsured in the US. Also those who think they are insured until time for treatment. She calls it Faux insurance...something touted by one of Bush's secretaries of Health, Education, and Welfare... In 1970 the average uninsured person was a 23 year old male with no children. Now, its a 35 year old with 2 kids....In 1970 parents believed it only took 12 years of public funded grade school education for their children to enter the middle class, in 2002 it took 18 years--preschool-grade school-plus four years of college with families paying for 1/3rd of the child's education out of pocket... She says we are quickly moving from a three class society to a two class society... The main reasons why families go into bankruptcy these days is because of one of three reasons 1. Family Breakup 2. Joblessness 3. Medical Problems. Most hide it--guilt and shame, especially from children....more children live in homes that have experienced bankruptcy than have experienced divorce. .... I find all of this very interesting. I wonder how all of this compares/fits along with the trend in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, of the children of Black maids and chauffeurs and other members of the working class rising into the middle class, recieving college educations. I have noted before on this blog, and thought about a lot too--it used to be that it was people of color, particularly Black people who went to school, earned college degrees and ended up working as somebody's maid...that due to discrimination. Nowadays, its everybody...macdonalds, walmart. Interesting turns in the U.S. economy.