Dumb Man Talking

Sean Penn stumps for Cuban Communism

(Page 2 of 2)

"The changing of the guard is not significant of and by itself," deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters, repeatedly referring to Raul Castro as "dictator lite" or "Fidel lite.""It will be significant if in fact it leads to greater openness and freedom for the Cuban people and ultimately to a democratic transition," he said. But, he cautioned that "the general analysis is that Raul Castro is 'Fidel lite.' He is simply a continuation of the Castro regime, of the dictatorship."

There is no freedom in Cuba, nor will there be, as long as the Castro family is steering the ship of state. And the recent arrests of dissidents simply buttress what all but the most deluded have known for 50 years. But those who gasped in horror that America's elections were rigged in 2000 and 2004, that warned against a sinister plan afoot in 2008—think Greg Palast, Robert Kennedy Jr., Gore Vidal—seem not to mind systematic and acknowledged voter intimidation in Venezuela or, in the case of Cuba, the total absence of democratic elections. Why must cretinous celebrities such as Penn insist that Cubans remain guinea pigs in a failed social experiment in which he isn't required to participate?

And while it is perhaps unfair to beat up on a credulous, self-important, and solipsistic vanity journalist like Sean Penn, it does serve to remind that the Hollywood narrative of revolutionary Cuba—perpetuated by, among others, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Benicio Del Toro, Steven Soderbergh, Naomi Campbell, and Michael Moore—stubbornly, like Fidel himself, refuses to die.

Michael C. Moynihan is an associate editor of reason.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Not that I disagree with really any of the sentiments expressed here on Cuba, Castro, Che, etc, but whats with the all editors on deck - full blast torpedoes, today of all days? Raul say something nasty about Bill Kristol?

  • Lefiti||

    Shame on Sean Penn for introducing shades of gray and ambiguity where black and white and absolute clarity are called for. Penn is no Margaret Thatcher, and Raul Castro in no Augusto Pinochet. Offical villains are the most villanous of all.

  • Lefiti||

    From Wikipedia:

    In 2000, Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan stated that "Cuba should be the envy of many other nations" adding that achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. "Cuba demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities - health, education, and literacy."[59] The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-governmental organization that evaluated Cuba's healthcare system in 2000-1 described Cuba as "a shining example of the power of public health to transform the health of an entire country by a commitment to prevention and by careful management of its medical resources"[60] President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn also praised Cuba's healthcare system in 2001, saying that "Cuba has done a great job on education and health", at the annual meeting of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Wayne Smith, former head of the US Interests Section in Havana identified "the incredible dedication" of Cubans to healthcare, adding that "Doctors in Cuba can make more driving cabs and working in hotels, but they don't. They're just very dedicated".[61] Dr. Robert N. Butler, president of the International Longevity Center in New York and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author on aging, has traveled to Cuba to see firsthand how doctors are trained. He said a principal reason that some health standards in Cuba approach the high American level is that the Cuban system emphasizes early intervention. Clinic visits are free, and the focus is on preventing disease rather than treating it. [62] Furthermore, London's The Guardian newspaper lauded Cuba's public healthcare system for what it viewed as its high quality in a Sept. 12, 2007 article. [63]

  • Lefiti||

    Cuba May Trounce USA on Gay Rights
    USA Today reports that Cuba may soon be a more progressive country than the United States when it comes to the rights of its citizens to marry:

    Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly recently said that he expects the government will soon legalize gay marriage or civil unions: "We have to abolish any form of discrimination against those persons. We are trying to see how to do that, whether it should be to grant them the right to marry or to have same-sex unions. We have to redefine the concept of marriage. Socialism should be a society that does not exclude anybody."

    Gay culture in TV and film have helped to transform the nation's attitudes, the article argues.

    A top judicial leader agrees that discrimination against gays has to go. Ruben Remigio Ferro, president of Cuba's Supreme Court: "Because of our historical heritage, Cuban society has been intolerant of homosexuals. But there has been a change in thinking. We are developing a program to educate people about sexual orientation. But it is not a problem that has been solved."

    With Canada allowing gay marriage, parts of Mexico enacting civil unions, and now the possibility of Cuba moving forward, the U.S. may soon find itself swallowed by progress. Change appears to be on the march, but when will it get here?

    When it comes to gay rights, is Cuba inching ahead of USA? [usa today]

  • Lefiti||

    I'm moving to Cuba! See you later, wingnuts!

    Worker's paradise, here I come!

  • Lefiti||

    Reason's cheap shot boys couldn't find a flaw in libertarian dogma if it crawled up their legs and bit their balls off, but they will corageously expose the flaws of commie Cuba lest any Americans get seduced by its comsymp celebrity supporters. Keep up the good work!

  • ||

    Lefiti,

    Cuba is the country that rounded up AIDS victims and kept them in a camp, isn't it? I wonder if they threw in some unaffected gays and hemophiliacs, just for kicks?

  • Lefiti||

    Pro L Cuba is a paradise for homosexuals! I should know!

  • tarran||

    Hey,

    I think it's been decades since they executed people for being gay.

    And lefiti is right. hospitals that are infested with roaches and where congealed blood goes for days without being wiped off the floor do provide high quality medical care.

  • mismos00||

    Naming names I see.

  • Turtles||

    Oooh someone touched a nerve

  • Cool Cal||

    "it is perhaps unfair to beat up on a credulous, self-important, and solipsistic vanity journalist like Sean Penn"

    If The Nation hopes to be considered the bastion of serious journalistic integrity that any current events/politics magazine poses as, then printing this as a cover story certainly justifies any and all ridicule.

  • JLM||

    This Lefiti person is a spoof, right?

  • bubba||

    Can someone explain why Menoyo went back to Cuba? Did he forget than he had been tortured for 20 years?


    I love the metric: best social development adjusted for per capita GDP.

    That kinda ignores the reason their per capita GDP is so very, very bad. "Wow, you don't sweat much for a fat girl!"

  • Lefiti||

    GDP doesn't matter, wingnut. Only what the UN says. GDP is for capitalists and wingnuts.

  • ||

    Cuba May Trounce USA on Gay Rights

    I'm sure Cuba will claim to do so, while they continue to lock up anyone with HIV.

    -jcr

  • Deus ex Machina||

    Looks like Penn just reverted to his full retard persona.

  • Abdul||

    In Cuba, homosexuals may soon have enough income to buy a Barbara Streisand record, if only Streisand was not banned there.

  • ||

    " if only Streisand was not banned there."

    Point in Cuba's favor!

  • Joel||

    Who's playing Lefiti today? Because heaping praise on Cuba, of all places, is over the top even for him.

  • ||

    The only thing more distasteful than idiots who believe that actors are political or moral compases is otherwise serious journals who give additional publicity to those actors. Actors are people whose job description is to feel stuff and act it out, not to analyze critically.

  • Lefiti||

    Somalia, Somalia, Somalia, Somalia.

  • PFJ||

    Is Sean Penn aware that you can not order pizza in the middle of class in Cuba?

  • Vanessa||

    Dammit, I think Penn is a great actor. I really want to see Milk. He doesn't make it easy on me.

  • ||

    "Wow, you don't sweat much for a fat girl!"

    There aren't many fat chicks in Cuba or North Korea, I'm sure.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Actors are people whose job description is to feel stuff and act it out, not to analyze critically.

    Somebody accused Hitchcock of claiming actors were cattle, and his response was "no, I said actors should be treated like cattle."

  • Michael P.||

    ...the focus is on preventing disease rather than treating it.

    Cuban hospitals also don't count babies born prematurely as live births and therefore seldom work to keep them alive. The result? Cuba's "official" infant mortality rate is a fraction of that of the United States. This is really what they mean by preventative care.

  • ||

    the focus is on preventing disease rather than treating it

    That makes it sound so reasonable. I guess we should be locking up people with AIDS, then?

  • ||

    This article is fucking awesome. Beautiful job, Michael.

  • ||

    This article is silly. Hopefully Obama will open up travel to Cuba for all us Americans. I'm tired of big government telling me where I can and can't travel. Good for Sean Penn to help cut through all this silliness.

  • ||

    Well, one way to prevent disease is to kill anyone with symptoms of, well, anything.

  • ||

    Refusing to restrict American citizens' right to travel and singing hosannas to Cuba are not the same thing.

  • ||

    Have to agree with Otak. Big government is when the politicians, for political reasons, tell us what we can and cannot do. Just use your brains folks. Our government lets us travel to all the following non-democracies: China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. The Canadians and Western Europeans are already having a great time and making money on great investments just 90 miles south of OUR border. Time for us all to get in on the fun and action in Cuba. Nuff said. End of story. Well done, Mr. Penn.

  • ||

    Way to go Sean Penn! We should all be able to go to Cuba. What a load of crap that we're not allowed to. I hope Obama keeps his promise and ends this crap. It's the only reason I voted for him to be honest.

  • ||

    In response to: Tonio | December 11, 2008, 4:24pm | # --

    There is nothing more distasteful than an anonymous poster suggesting that HIS opinion is more valid than another's (say, Sean Penn's for instance) because HE is not an actor. Which is essentially what you're suggesting, ya big dummy. ;) LOL Penn has as much right to his opinion as you. You're probably just a little jealous that Penn speaks to millions and you speak to, well, me? LOL

  • ||

    Where are the retards coming from today? Moynihan, do you have some IP addresses you could throw out so we could track it down?

  • ||

    Viva Fidel! Don't get your panties all in a wad, amigos. Just get your butts down to Cuba and you'll see how loco your dumb boycott is. Viva la Revolucion!!!

  • ||

    At least they don't needlessly slander former world leaders, Episiarch.

  • ||

    Laura Roslin is a chamalla-addled tyrant who engaged in electoral fraud. So typical that you'd defend her, ProL.

  • alan||

    Episiarch | December 11, 2008, 5:24pm | #
    Where are the retards coming from today? Moynihan, do you have some IP addresses you could throw out so we could track it down?


    It is like we need to go up and say, 'hello, I'm a libertarian, how do you do?' because they have never met us before and assume we hold the same views as Neocons otherwise all these comments about trade restrictions and travel make no sense.

  • ||

    Roslin? Roslin is a Cylon cunt. I was defending Gaius Baltar, former ruler of New Caprica.

    Say, we're in agreement!

  • ||

    How did that happen?

  • ||

    Like Matt Welsh on the US genocide in Iraq - I just can't get that excited about Cuba, Fidel, etc. either way -- lift restrictions on trade and travel and Cuba playas and Cuba haters need to just get over it.

  • ||

    Say, we're in agreement!

    No we're not. I am both anti-Roslin and anti-Baltar.

  • ||

    Hopefully Obama will open up travel to Cuba for all us Americans. I'm tired of big government telling me where I can and can't travel. Good for Sean Penn to help cut through all this silliness.

    I'd like that too. Florida = 27 electoral votes so don't be surprised if it doesn't happen.

  • ||

    "Way to go Sean Penn"? "This article is silly"?
    "Well done Mr. Penn"?

    Maybe you silly twats should re-read the article...You've completely missed the point!
    Focus in on the subject: Vanity celebrity journalist refuses to see suppression of the most basic human liberties in both Cuba and Venezuela.
    The embargo is a completely different matter altogether. Although it is beyond the point, it strains all credibility to postulate that ending the embargo with Cuba will magically transform that hell hole into a vacation paradise.

  • ||

    Actually, I'm anti-Baltar, too. I just objected to him being characterized as intentionally betraying the Colonies.

    As for Roslin, who isn't anti-Roslin?

  • Warty||

    Roslin was handed an impossible situation, and did a magnificent job.

    For a chick, I mean.

  • ||

    Warty,

    That's crap. You're a Dances with Wolves fan, aren't you?

  • ||

    I'd like that too. Florida = 27 electoral votes so don't be surprised if it doesn't happen.

    I read somewhere on the intertubes that since Obama promised in his campaign to end the travel restrictions and none of the Cuban Exiles voted for him, he can do whatever he wants with Cuba policy.

  • ||

    Hunter wrote: "ending the embargo with Cuba will magically transform that hell hole into a vacation paradise"

    Cuba is not a hell hole. You'll discover that once Obama lifts travel restrictions. The Cuban government has its issues...they'd do well to move toward real democracy as in Venezuela...but regardless, you'll see how off your notions about Cuba are once Obama lifts travel restrictions. You'd do better to concentrate your anger and concern on places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- dictatorships that incubated the brainwashed idiot/monsters who attacked the United States on Sept. 11.

  • ||

    yay

    Looks like I'm the first person to link to The Film Actors Guild

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnPWJOJYVKc

    Messieurs Stone and Parker's at there best me thinks

  • ||

    Although it is beyond the point, it strains all credibility to postulate that ending the embargo with Cuba will magically transform that hell hole into a vacation paradise.

    Ending the embargo removes Castro's #1 excuse for the dismal state of the Cuban economy. The fact is, Cuba can already trade with every other country in the world, and there aren't many things that can only be obtained from the USA.

    Cuba is a basket case because their government penalizes productive effort by individuals. That's the long and short of it.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Cuba is not a hell hole. You'll discover that once Obama lifts travel restrictions

    As a Brit I can get on a plane to Cuba whenever I like
    and I can tell you

    They have monumentally fucked that country,

    the health system might be better than the Democratic Republic of Congo's, but its fecking shite compared to anywhere where they've even had a whiff of capitalism. Its quite enetertaining to note that when Fidel Castro gets sick he flys in a Spanish doctor

    http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Fidel-Castros-Condition-Deteriorates-After-Surgery-17453-1/

  • ||

    Did you ever notice how people that have more money than they know what to do with seem to think they're the only ones that know how things REALLY are? I imagine that if these same people hadn't made it big on the silver screen, if they'd have to hold down ACTUAL jobs, a lot of them would be singing a different tune.

  • ||

    "Cuba is not a hell hole" and "they'd do well to move toward real democracy as in Venezuela".

    Here. Here. Spoken (hopefully in jest) like an insightful deep thinking world traveler.
    If not, it must be tough for those of your ilk to live under the constraints of our political system in the U.S.

    Keep on swinging otak. That's strike two.

  • Lefiti||

    I haven't even posted on this thread yet. None of these posts are from me!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Actually, I'm anti-Baltar, too. I just objected to him being characterized as intentionally betraying the Colonies.

    As for Roslin, who isn't anti-Roslin?


    I'm pro-whathisname, that XO who looks like McCain. Because I'm totally an alcoholic like he is.

  • Travis||

    "This Lefiti person is a spoof, right?"

    Yes, whether he knows it or not is debatable.

  • ||

    Hunter, my dear Hunter...what constitutes a democracy in your book? What qualifies a country to call itself a democracy and where have the evil Venezuelans fallen shy of the mark?

  • ||

    From the piece:
    And while it is perhaps unfair to beat up on a credulous, self-important, and solipsistic vanity journalist like Sean Penn, it does serve to remind that the Hollywood narrative of revolutionary Cuba-perpetuated by, among others, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Benicio Del Toro, Steven Soderbergh, Naomi Campbell, and Michael Moore-stubbornly, like Fidel himself, refuses to die.

    Actually, from the reviews that I've read, the second half of Soderbergh's film Che, entitled Guerilla, was quite critical of the man himself.

    So I'm not sure Soderbergh deserves to be singled out, along with the usual Tinseltown suspects (Stone, Moore, Belafonte, et al.).

  • ||

    Here's a good link to the picture of the band feeding the commie paper into a meatgrinder:

    Banned political speech

  • ed||

    The nice thing about Sean Penn is that he stubbornly continues to make movies so painfully awful that nobody watches them. Got milk?

  • ||

    "It was predicted thatCuba, would gesture towards openness, allowing the average citizens to own DVD players they couldn't possibly afford, for which films were all but unattainable. But bloggers and punks, journalists and librarians are still harassed and arrested. "

    If the Kissnger/Zebrinski foreign policy monopoly wants to get dvd's, magazines, honest information to the Cuban people, creating a more open society then why didn't Bush or Clinton end the trade embargo?

    are they really dumb enough to think that US government sponsored trade blockades help create a more free world?

    ever look in to who funded Trotsky? Ever wonder why Churchill, FDR and Stalin seemed to really like each other?

  • ||

    "Although it is beyond the point, it strains all credibility to postulate that ending the embargo with Cuba will magically transform that hell hole into a vacation paradise."

    If if you believe this theory, then how does this then justify hurting americans economically by not allowing us to trade with who we wish?

    Moynihan, I have a suggestion for your next article..."The Dominoe Theory, a good reason to attack Vietnam".

  • Barry||

    Glad to see this article begin with a dig at Maximum Rock'n'Roll; MRR was started by Tim Yohanan, a grizzled old new-left 60s hack who thought 80s hardcore Punk was a way of kick-starting "the revolution"...he didn't have any problems with attacking any band who didn't take the "correct" stance on every issue; usually, said band were young enough to be his kids.
    Tim thankfully died, but his monster lives on; the marriage of bad politics and lousy rock music is a stable one.

  • ||

    "the marriage of bad politics and lousy rock music is a stable one"

    its gotta be said that some pretty good rock/soul/jazz/reggae/dub/punk/ has been married to bad politics

    The Clash were awsome but you wouldn't want them running a country, Mick Jagger was/is a huge Che apologist

    I read a cool article in the economist on hip hop
    (I would link but they only let you read the current issue and it was a few months ago)

    A guy was talking about political hiphop and saying that if you write a hiphop track and get some guy to chant some demagogue lyrics like

    yeah man we need a revolution
    poor bros need some retribution

    it kinda sounds cool, particularly to young males but actually probably makes things worse

    If you really wanted to make a political rap it should say something like

    Go do some night classes
    and learn to be a plumber
    you can earn more cash than
    A second rate Joe Strummer

    But that wouldn't sound to cool to teh kids eh?

    I line i always like is John Lennon's Revolution

    "We all wanna change the world
    but when you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You aint go make it with anyone anyhow"

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    It took the author five paragraphs to state his opening premise.

    Holy prolix penmanship batman!

  • ||

    GABE -- LOL. Well done. I just re-read this article and some of the loony comments on this board. I shake my head in wonder at the lemmings of the American right. Unbelievable.

  • ||

    What't the most objective measure of a country's desireability? Whether people are fighting to get in or get out? Fair to say?

    How many people are building rafts made out of coconuts and binding twine to sneak INTO Cuba?

    That would be zero.

    Case closed, Otak, Gabe, and all the other commie fools.

  • ||

    I agree Cuba is a shity country...how does that make me a commie? I agree Castro was a bad bad man. My problem is that Moynihan has no problem with having our government limit americans to choose with whom they trade goods/labor/currency. Moynihan and the neo-cons think totalitarian control of americans is a good response to communism in Cuba... I strongly disagree.

    Fuurthermore, Moynihans snarky attacks on one of the most free-market heads of state (Vaclav Klaus) is telling. Moynihan is a UN loving/carbon tax/neo-con apologist...who also tries to justify the inhuman fascist idea that the US governemnt should eliminate Americans choices of trading partners.

    "eyes open"....you are confused, if you are calling me a commie.

  • ||

    eyes open:

    Open your eyes. Go to Cuba. Go to Mexico. I think you'll find the vast majority of their populations want to stay home as opposed to "building rafts of coconuts" to come visit you in your trailer park. Just kidding about the trailer park. :)

  • ABC||

    Is Lefiti the commie twin brother of Dondero?

  • ||

    I have visited Cuba many times ... and it is nicer than any of the "Capitalist" countries I have visited in Africa, South Asia, and India.

    When will Americans get over their irrational fear of Cuba?

    Us Canadians love the place. It is our Hawaii

    Hasta la Victoria Siempre

  • ||

    In neighboring Capitalist Haiti they have access to the internet ...

    ONLY 1 PROBLEM though:

    Most of the population is so poor that they literally eat cookies made of mud and dirt.

    Life has trade offs.

    Cubans live better than 60 % of the world's population, although yes they have very little in comparison to your average gluttonous Westerner.

    I also find it amazing that Americans (who literally have their own Gitmo GULAG on Cuban soil) can with a straight face bash human rights in Cuba.

    = Stupifying Chutzpah !

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Gitmo is *nothing* in comparison to any of the prisons in Cuba.... to find some kind of equivalency, with the exception of the Habeas Corpus business is insane. Are the people at gitmo being murdered? Are they denied access to health care or sanitary living conditions? According to Michael Moore himself, gitmo is *better* than many continental American hospitals....

    It's hard to fathom being in a position to defend such a shady prison like that, but are you really trying to find some kind of human rights equivalency between the US & CUBA???

    Useful idiots indeed.

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