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Roger L. Simon
17 Jul 2012
Confessions of a Flip-flopper

Do not share this column with your friends, unless you really must. And, please, no Twitter or Facebook. It's … Read More.

13 Jul 2012
Birth of the Cool

Back when I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be cool. I endlessly played my Miles Davis "Birth of the … Read More.

6 Jul 2012
Has Technology Murdered Vacations?

The last few summers, I have spent July on Bainbridge Island, Wash. — a Northwestern paradise, of sorts … Read More.

A Night at the Los Angeles Public Library


We live in times when the different sides in our country speak languages as far apart as Chinese and Italian.

Witness what happened to me earlier this week when I was a panelist at the Los Angeles Public Library's ALOUD Program on the subject of "Hollywood — Left and Right." With me on the panel were Mike Farrell, actor and left-wing activist, and Steven Ross, a USC history professor who had just published a book on the topic.

I supposed I had been drafted to play the reverse of liberal Bob Beckel on Fox's "The Five" and approached the evening with some trepidation. I didn't know the half of it.

The moderator, film critic Ella Taylor, kicked things off by asking Ross about one of the main theses of his book — that although the movie business was dominated creatively by liberals, it was the Hollywood conservatives that ran for office and exercised political power. Ross cited Louis B. Mayer, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger as examples.

Taylor then turned to me — as "house rightie" — and asked if I agreed. Ignoring the reference to mogul Mayer, who never, to my knowledge, ran for office, I responded that I largely did, but noted that without Reagan it didn't mean that much. Only Reagan had had a genuinely influential political career — after all, I added casually, he "tore down that wall."

Suddenly, the audience erupted in boos.

I stared out nonplussed. Naive me, I had assumed that regardless of political stripe most people it the U.S. of A. regarded the downfall of the Soviet Union as a plus. Not so evidently the near-full house at the Los Angeles Public Library, many of whom were apparently still unfazed by the Stalin-Hitler pact. And that wasn't an idle reference, since a quick perusal of the audience revealed many sitting there were in their 80s and up.

I even recognized a few of them, old CP fellow travelers, from my left-wing days.

Nothing good will come of this, I immediately concluded, and decided to do my best to clam up for the rest of the evening. But it was hard, considering the tenor of the comments by my co-panelists. And, I admit, I am an inveterate pop-off.

So when Farrell started chastising Reagan, whom he obviously despised, as in the clutches of right-wing evil-doers in Central America, I reminisced about my left-wing youth and experiences with the Black Panthers, hoping to use my change as an illustration of something.

It was pointless. Although they are obviously more violent about it, Muslims aren't the only ones with a distaste for apostates. I was only succeeding in getting the audience, and my fellow panelists, more angry with me, digging a deeper grave for me or what I might believe.

This reached its apotheosis when Ross offered his professorial explanation of why liberals were more creatively successful in Hollywood — and to him the better artists. Conservatives, he said, lacked empathy. Liberals were the ones able to get into the skins of others and create their characters.

Wow, I thought, the man was saying I lacked empathy. I mumbled something about the film "The Blind Side," but I was substantially speechless while thinking ...

Robert Duval, Clint Eastwood, Robert Downey Jr., Bruce Willis, Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie, Patricia Heaton, Adam Sandler, Tom Selleck ... all actors and actress more or less on the right. Did they lack empathy?

And what about writers? Arguably the two greatest playwrights in the English-speaking world, possibly the entire world, were Tom Stoppard (a self-described libertarian) and David Mamet (who recently published a book about his conservatism). In Ross' view, they must lack empathy, as well.

I knew at that point it was time to go — and I did.

To find out more about Roger L. Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



1 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... The most effective weapon we had against Russian Communism was funny money, and the ability to use our debt to fight wars against them, as we did in Vietnam, which we for all practical purposes won because they could not afford to support it, was used all in by Mr. Reagan to bring them to the brink of collapse...Russians make better enemies than friends... We knew where we stood with them... Now we have to fear every Russian we meet is a mobster and wonder if they are not the true cause of the defeat of Communism that our economy and funny money only helped to destroy...
Communism never gave most of the people more than a hand to mouth existence, and that may have been one more certain than under the Czars, still, you could not keep those people from finding out about America the Great, the land of milk and honey and opportunity; and now that we are living hand to mouth you have to wonder what land with gold bricks to tread upon may appeal to us...
The problem with tearing down that wall is not that it was torn, but the manor in which it was torn...Reagan was able to fight his war against communism without disrupting our economy with funny money... To use that same method to fight wars of choice far from home where victory, if it can be found will be fleeting is stupid... Our economy because of the defeat of communism is not the same economy... So much of our capital has been exported that would never have been exported if the threat of Communism were abroad that we do not have a domestic economy capable of supporting debt, or large military adventures...We do not tax our rich and our capital abroad, but they through government tax us to defend their investments...Frederick the Great wrote the lesson on that one: If you try to hold everywhere, you hold no where...
I am sure that we have some who might say that our making partners in every land we plant a factory in is good for capitalism, but as soon as you make classes you make class consciousness...We are not making partners but co-conspirators, and the need to defend our conpirators and capital means a tremendous cost the people must be burdened with and, we, already once robbed as the legacy of Mr. Reagan -without capital, or good jobs, or means of any sort to pay down the debt loaded on to us...

You see; funny money was a great tool, even a great weapon against pay as you go economies as the Communists had...To use funny money for fun, to prop up the economy constantly, to maximize profits for a few at the cost of future misery, to fight pointless wars with no well considered object are terrible and fatal for any society... The reference to Reagan should be bood...He cost me enough to have had another child... The debt now is simply more than any of us can ever pay...
Short of devaluing the currency to pay off with inflated dollars the debt raised for the enjoyment of a few, that would wreck the peace and the economy, and throw the society into chaos; what can we do???We have let the influence of the rich in politics screw us to see them fat...We have had our fun, put off our pain for another day... And now our rich will say: You asked for it, so pay for it... We could have had peace with Russia at any time but we chose sooner than later...We might have avoided war with Islam at any point, but instead we invited it; or rather those who planned to use funny money to fight it invited it...There is a lesson here...

There is no substitute for democracy...If people will not suffer the ignorance of their neighbors they will educate them... But there is no need to educate any people without power in their lives... And if a people ruled by an uneducated majority can be saddled with a debt all the poor must bear while the rich keep all they have looted from the treasury, then there is no indignity they cannot be forced to bear up to and including actual slavery...
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:56 AM
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