Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro’s ‘presidency’ has not been going all that well so far, and the guy is becoming increasingly reliant on the scapegoatist and jingoistic ravings about imperialist aggressors and opposition conspiracies to which his predecessor was so heartily inclined. Things reached a pitch last week when Maduro expelled several United States diplomats in a demonstration of just how very seriously he’s taking Venezuela’s rolling power blackouts and shortages of basic goods (or something), and the United States didn’t take long to respond in kind — so I guess we can go ahead and throw any lingering hopes of the mutual installation of actual ambassadors any time soon out the window.

For some strange and certainly inexplicable reason, however, throwing out the American officials didn’t actually do anything to immediately mitigate Venezuela’s economic crises. When you’re all out of phantasmagorical enemies to blame for your problems, what’s a near-dictator to do? …Get even more dictatorial, duh, via the Financial Times:

Currency market distortions have fuelled worsening shortages of food and basic goods from milk to toilet paper alongside high and rising inflation, posing a threat to the late Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution. Price controls as well as endless fiddling with strict but ineffective exchange restrictions have generated a scarcity of foreign currency on which the import-dependent economy relies. …

Mr Maduro, who served as Mr Chávez’s foreign minister and vice-president, is seeking “special powers” from the country’s national assembly to fight graft and pass economic measures. The president claims members of the “fascist” opposition, with support from the US, are “sabotaging” the economy in order to bring down the government. …

“There is a lot of discontent within the government at all levels, among people who think he does not have the power and vision to make the Chávez project work,” said David Smilde, a Caracas-based Venezuela expert at the Washington Office on Latin America. Some observers believe his bid to bypass the legislature is an effort to solidify his weak grip on power. “Having an enabling law would increase his power within the government,” said Mr Smilde.

Maduro is looking for these special powers so that he can better equip himself  as the proper champion to wage “economic war” on behalf of Venezuela — which is a shame, because he is evidently neglecting to realize that the regime has already been waging economic war in the form of price controls, rationing, and government takeovers, and that the precise thing he needs to do to fix his problems is to stop waging it.