- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chavez good

“If Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had his way, any journalist who called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a dictator would quickly find himself behind bars. Penn, appearing on HBO’s ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ on Friday, defended Chavez during a segment in which he detailed his work with the JP Haitian Relief Organization, which he co-founded.

“‘Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it,’ said Penn, winner of two Best Actor Academy Awards. ‘And this is mainstream media, who should — truly, there should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.’

“It was just the beginning of a busy weekend for Penn. When asked on CBS’ ‘Sunday Morning’ about those who question his motives for his humanitarian work in Haiti, he said: ‘Do I hope that those people die screaming of rectal cancer? Yeah. You know, but I’m not going to spend a lot of energy on it.’”

From “Sean Penn Wants Reporters Jailed for Calling Chavez ‘Dictator,’” on March 8 at Fox News

U.S. evil

“I can’t believe what I just saw, so I’ll think about it some more before I go into detail. But if I were the kind of excitable guy who believes in boycotts, I’d say ‘Boycott NBC Universal’ for its appalling new anti-American flick ‘Green Zone,’ an absurdly awful would-be actioner that stars Matt Damon as a US warrant officer in 2003 Baghdad.

“I would never have accused director Paul Greengrass, who made the astonishingly powerful ‘United 93,’ of being simplistic. But he has made a $100 million war film in which American troops are the bad guys. There are moments that we’re supposed to cheer because our soldiers are getting shot down — but it’s okay because they’re evildoers at worst or stooges at best who are trying to kill the one guy in the country who can prevent an insurgency from taking root.

“The movie also makes it look as though the flawed intelligence about the war was traceable to a single smarmy jackass (played by Greg Kinnear) working in Pentagon intel who fabricated WMD intelligence … planted that intel with a Judith Miller-like reporter … and then, when his ruse began to be suspected, sent his henchmen out to kill the general, who was willing to deal with the Americans but who vowed to launch an insurgency campaign if the Americans didn’t live up to their promises.

“In other words, the U.S. wasn’t merely incompetent … it caused the insurgency to occur.”

Kyle Smith, writing on “Hollywood’s Weapon of Matt Destruction,” on March 3 at his site Kyle Smith Online

Bush better

“Will [George W.] Bush ever be regarded as a great president in the tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, TR, FDR, and Reagan? Nope. But he wasn’t an awful president, either. And, depending on how Iraq shakes out, he might even be thought of as a pretty good one. Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower were both viewed as, at best, mediocrities when they left office. Both are rated much more highly with the advantage of perspective.

“In hindsight, the Iraq War won’t be viewed as a debacle along the lines of Vietnam. I don’t know that it’ll ever be viewed as a great success — and I say that as someone who has reluctantly supported the effort since 2003 — but the cost in American lives has been small in any historical sense and the possibility for significant, positive regional impact remains.

“Additionally, I think, Bush’s handling of [the] Katrina disaster will be more fairly judged in hindsight as a series of unfortunate events uncontrollable from Washington. FEMA was dispatched quickly but the infrastructure simply wasn’t in place — it still isn’t — to deal with an unprecedented flood in New Orleans. Nor did it help to have an incompetent mayor and governor mucking things up …

“[Stanley] Fish is also right on the whole series of things that Democrats in general and [Barack] Obama in particular railed about under Bush that are now quietly being adopted. Bush had to make a lot of hard decisions and made many of them badly. But, in many of those cases, the alternatives were awful, too. We all mocked Bush for repeatedly pointing out during the 2004 debates that being president was ‘hard work.’ But, it turns out, it actually is.”

James Joyner, writing on “George W. Bush’s Rehabilitation,” on March 9 at Outside the Beltway

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