Oddly enough, his hero does not agree: he just replaced the head of his military, now the most powerful in South America, with the stooge who used to head up his own personal militia. Sounds good:

Gen. Baduel had criticized Mr. Chavez’s rule as unnecessarily authoritarian. “A socialist regime is not incompatible with a democratic system of checks and balances and division of powers. We must separate ourselves from Marxist orthodoxy,” he said in a farewell speech…

Another recently retired general, Muller Rojas, believes Gen. Baduel’s resignation signals a purge of the high command, which he says has become “highly politicized and partisan.”

The new defense chief, Gen. Rangel, underwent military instruction in Cuba and is expected to merge the regular army with politically directed militias armed with new AK-103 rifles purchased from Russia…

Addressing a group of graduating cadets last month, Mr. Chavez told them: “We are taking the model of the war of resistance, which is the people with the soldiers of our armed forces preparing for the defense of the nation.” The newly minted officers were required to swear to the slogan “Socialism or death” at the commencement ceremony.

Economic “progress” is advancing, too, with a 59-page blueprint for “21st century socialism.” The model calls for a “mix” combining nationalization with private investment. Quote:

“We’re distancing ourselves from the errors committed in the socialism of the past century,” [economic advisor Haiman] El Troudi said. Though El Troudi asserts that capitalism has failed, he said private capital is needed here — as long as it is employed in “a new kind of company that dignifies the human condition.”

Exit question: Aside from Spicoli, which Hollywood tool is going to be the first to lose a fortune pouring money into one of Chavez’s sinkholes?

Update: They don’t call ’em useful idiots for nothing:

Enlivened by his conversations with Penn, the socialist president lambasted the U.S. government for “destroying the world” with war and warned of brewing economic troubles, saying Washington should do much more for its own poor.

“There could be a revolution there,” Chavez said. “We’ll help them. The United States must be helped because the United States is going to implode.”…

While Chavez made a speech, however, Penn stood at a distance alongside the audience, occasionally jotting down notes. He spoke only when Chavez asked the actor to say a few words.

“I came here looking for a great country. I found a great country,” Penn told the crowd.

Tags: socialism