- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2007

Darling dictators

“While Code Pink activists condemn President Bush for his ‘fear-based politics that justify violence,’ they applaud brutal dictators like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Three of their top leaders, Cindy Sheehan, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, took a trip to Venezuela last year to meet and socialize with Dictator Chavez. …

“Miss Evans’ approval of Mr. Chavez was gushing: ‘He was a doll. Generous, open, passionate, excited, stimulated by the requests and happy to be planning with us.’ … Miss Benjamin touted Chavez’s policies and stated that ‘George Bush — and John Kerry for that matter — could learn a thing or two from Hugo Chavez about winning the hearts and minds of the people.’ She failed to mention … that these policies include the slaughter of landowners and farmers, government seizure of private companies, a fraudulent election and the forced redistribution of wealth. Apparently, killing innocents in the name of communism is acceptable to some anti-war activists.”

Sarah Rode, writing on “Code Pink: The Castro and Chavez Fan Club,” Tuesday at Human Events.com

The book beat

“Over the past year, and with alarming speed, newspapers across the country have been cutting back their book coverage and, in some instances, abandoning the beat entirely. At a time when newspaper owners feel themselves and the institutions over which they preside to be under, … book coverage is among the first beats to be scaled back or phased out. Today, such coverage is thought by many newspaper managers to be inessential and, worse, a money loser. …

“That book coverage is disappearing is not news. What is news is the current pace of the erosion in coverage, as well as the fear that an unbearable cultural threshold has been crossed: whether the book beat should exist at all is now, apparently, a legitimate question.”

— Steve Wasserman, writing on “Goodbye to All That,” in the September/October issue of the Columbia Journalism Review

Bloody beauty

“At the bloody end of ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ virtually all the surviving characters, not to mention a variety of strangers, get shot at point-blank range. It’s almost as if the stage were being cleared for some subsequent installment of what we’ve just been watching — the eternal conflict of good and evil in the Old West. There haven’t been many big-screen Westerns recently, but the form has lost none of its slightly absurd solemnity. It hasn’t lost its physical beauty, either, or its fervent seriousness about honor and courage. …

“The setting is the Arizona territory after the Civil War, a wilderness with towns so ragged and insubstantial that they seem merely scratched onto the surface of the desert. Vengeful Apaches keep travelers awake at night, and Chinese coolies, working for the Southern Pacific Railroad, lay track across the mountains. Nothing resembling a social structure exists; individual character, for good or for ill, is all there is. In minor roles, the actors loom up at a saloon window or sit heavily on horseback, and each anonymous face, carved by terrible food, rotten liquor and bad sex, makes an overwhelming impression of loneliness and discomfort. … ‘3:10 to Yuma’ may be familiar, but, at its best, it has a rapt quality, even an aura of wonder.”

— David Denby, writing on “Eastern, Western,” in the Sept. 3-10 issue of the New Yorker

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