Venezuela's National Assembly has given initial approval to a bill granting the president the power to bypass congress and rule by decree for 18 months.
President Hugo Chavez says he wants "revolutionary laws" to enact sweeping political, economic and social changes.
He has said he wants to nationalise key sectors of the economy and scrap limits on the terms a president can serve.
Mr Chavez began his third term in office last week after a landslide election victory in December.
The bill allowing him to enact laws by decree is expected to win final approval easily in the assembly on its second reading on Tuesday.
Now, the reaction from right-wing bloggers in the U.S.:
Blue Crab Boulevard:
T)Hugo Chavez has had his rubber stamp legislature grant their seal of approval to his demand that he be allowed to dictate law by executive fiat. Venezuela has begun the descent into dictatorship and rule by personality cult.
To the misguided who keep spouting about how Bush is seizing power, forming an imperial presidency, blah, blah, blah. This is what a real power grab to form a dictatorship looks like. This is a coup and Venezuela is about to enter a very, very dark night. This is dressing up a dictatorship with the faux trappings of democracy. The Venezuelan Congress is effectively dead as a real legislative body as of today. Now they exist only at the pleasure of (T)Hugo. And he won't be pleased if anyone opposes him.
Well, he's very close to "legally" having himself declared dictator ...
Now anyone believing the 18 month sunset provision will actually be obeyed, please line up on the left over there for some great land deals west of California. My guess is a convenient emergency will find away to emerge at just the perfect time.
And, of course, over the years he's really made it impossible for himself to lose an election, not get any law he wants passed by the legislature or supported by the courts. That's because they all belong to him now.
... I truly feel sorry for the people of Venezuela. They're being led by a fool who will only ensure their eventual destruction if they don't figure it out quickly and, hopefully, replace him with all due speed.
Castro's ideological heir and actual protege, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, is arrogating to himself the power to issue laws by decree, and declaring that he, too, will nationalize big oil's assets. ExxonMobil has responded with a strongly worded statement about the "sanctity" of contracts."I don't want to get pejorative about it, but contract sanctity is very, very important to Exxon Mobil... We don't enter into our obligations lightly and we expect that others don't enter into their obligations lightly either," he said.
That's all well and good, but Chavez is a Commie. He doesn't do sanctity of contracts. He will decree that ExxonMobil's assets are now the property of the "people" of Venezuela, by which he means the people who will specifically support Hugo Chavez. The difference between Cuba of 1960 and Venezuela of 2007 is essential, though. Oil is the lifeblood of Chavez's post-Commie communism, and it keeps him in power. ExxonMobil really should blow it the frack up. It would be doing us all a favor.*
* For all of you out there who believe that one should not advocate a policy that one is unwilling to pay for, note that I own enough ExxonMobil stock that a few points off its stock price would be enough to pay my mortgage for several months. For what that's worth. And, yes, I know that it would be virtually impossible to pull off without putting innocent people in jeopardy of life or limb, so I appreciate that ExxonMobil should not actually do this. But apart from those messy details, it would be the best result for everybody, including the people of Venezuela.
I promise you, you cannot make this stuff up.
But just so you know reason still exists, here is one voice of sanity (liberal, natch):
You know what they say about absolute power. Or what Aristotle said about tyranny -- it is truly the worst of all possible regimes. And now there may not even be the facade of democracy in Venezuela. Chavez talks up his Bolivarean revolution -- his efforts to transform his country and Latin America, in alliance with like-minded rogue states like Iran, into a grand anti-American bloc -- but what forms the core of his rule is not liberation but absolutism. In this case, the rule of "revolutionary" law -- in effect, the arbitrary rule of a single unchecked man -- is nothing but tyranny, authoritarianism, the oppression of the people. Arbitrary rule always is. Which is why the rule of law, as opposed to the rule of man, is so central to democracy. And which is why, in our advanced democracies, we must safeguard the rule of law vigilantly and diligently, protecting it from the trespasses of those who would weaken it, scrap it, in the name of executive authority.
Bringing this back to an American context, let's hope Bush and the executive power fanatics who prop him up -- Cheney, Addington, etc. -- don't get wind of this. With Congress no longer rubber stamping the president's arbitrary rule, those fanatics may seek other and more radical ways to undo the rule of law and, with it, the very foundations of American democracy, if not democratic rule itself.