All posts by Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

Who is John Bolton? (Don’t Shrug)

Conservatives and Tea Party folk know what kind of President they want. One who will balance the budget, cut taxes and spending, and stop government interference in their lives and in the economy, at home — and who will conduct a consistently self-defense-oriented foreign policy abroad.

But it’s sometimes hard to figure out which candidate most reflects one’s values. Just as some potential candidates wait too long to announce their candidacy, others allow their stands on specific issues to remain mysterious for too long.

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, 62, might fall into both categories. He still has not officially announced that he will run. And until recently many of his views were unstated.

Sure, we know plenty about Bolton’s foreign policy, but where does he stand on economic and social issues?

WILL BOLTON RUN AND IS HE VIABLE?

Let’s answer some questions about John Bolton. First, is he running for President? And will he be a serious candidate or a vanity candidate? Can he win the general election?

According to National Review Online’s Robert Costa,  “If John Bolton runs for President — and he very well might — he will run to win.” Bolton says he is “tanned, rested and ready to govern,” and that he can handle the long campaign trail: “The handshaking at the plant gate at eight in the morning? I would enjoy that.” Bolton says he will make a decision by Labor Day.

He’s already prepared a campaign strategy. As a late entry into the race he won’t waste time. He will focus on New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada as his path to the nomination, skipping Iowa due to the time it would take to build a base in its 99 counties—and due to his stand against ethanol subsidies.

I believe he will definitely run. But can Bolton win in the general election against President Obama?

Many analysts say unless the economy rebounds significantly before November 2012, any qualified Republican has a chance. Bolton is certainly qualified. Besides UN ambassador, he’s been an Assistant Secretary of State, and an Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Bolton thinks competency and leadership will be a major factor in winning the Republican primaries and he is therefore confident of his chances. “I have more experience in the executive branch of the federal government,” he says, than any other candidate now running or expected to run.

I believe Bolton can be a strong and viable candidate.

So where does he stand on issues, and is he the candidate conservatives and tea partiers are looking for?

After digging around I have gathered numerous quotations that clearly indicate his positions.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES

John Bolton says, “Individual liberty is the whole purpose of political life.” This is in line with the principles proclaimed by the Founding Fathers and expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution. This is a basis of conservative and libertarian political philosophy.

As a student in 1964, Bolton campaigned for Barry Goldwater, the icon of right-wing politics since the mid-20th century. Today, Bolton still says, “I am a Goldwater conservative.”

Goldwater stated his philosophy this way: “I have little interest in streamlining government or making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them.”

BOLTON ON SOCIAL ISSUES

Yet unlike his most prominent successor, Ronald Reagan, Goldwater was not a social conservative. This may provide a clue to Bolton’s views. For example, Goldwater said, regarding the rights of gays to serve in the armed forces: “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”[

Similarly, Bolton supports the repeal of the "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" regulations that have excluded avowed homosexuals from military service. His reason? “Because I don’t think there’s any answer to the question, Why shouldn’t gay and lesbian Americans be able to serve their country in the military. I don’t think there’s any other answer that’s acceptable, other than repealing it.”

Regarding abortion, Bolton says, "I think that Ronald Reagan had it right, being against abortion except in certain limited, defined circumstances." He says, "As a form of birth control, it’s unacceptable.”

On gay marriage, he says, “I think [same-sex marriage] is something that in society today, we ought to be able to live with,” he says. “I don’t, however, think this is a matter to be adjudicated in federal courts. It’s an issue that ought to be primarily decided at the state level.”

BOLTON ON ECONOMIC ISSUES AND HEALTH CARE REFORM

“I do have a very free-market orientation in domestic policy,” says Bolton. “I think that the level of federal spending, taxation, and regulation is way too high,” Bolton says. “It got way too high before the Obama administration. I think that our objective should be lower taxes and lower federal spending.” He adds, “Much of the spending should be decided at the state and local levels. So I would push the federal share of the economy much lower than it was even at the beginning of the Bush administration. My philosophy is smaller government is better government, and government that is closer to the people is best of all.”

Bolton supports the Paul Ryan budget as a starting point for economic reform:

“I think the way the House Republicans have started off with the Ryan budget, aiming to get federal expenditures back to their 2008 levels as the first step is exactly the right way to go. I think there’s more to do there. I think it’s critical that we tackle entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid, including social security.”

Bolton says, “I wish I were a member of the House so I could vote to repeal” Obama’s health-care reforms. He would also like to undo the president’s financial-reform regulations, saying they should have focused instead on privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“The objective overall should be a much smaller government, less federal spending, less taxation, and less regulation.” He approves of the  Tea Party movement because “it has brought attention back to spending and taxation.”

BOLTON ON FOREIGN POLICY

“If I had to turn my own foreign policy into a bumper sticker, it would be ‘pro-American.’”

On the Daily Show in 2009, Bolton told Jon Stewart, “There’s not that much difference between me and the people who want a world where no government has nuclear weapons. I only want one government to have nuclear weapons.”

Bolton says, “I think in the last two years, President Obama has deliberately, consciously downplayed the threats that the United States faces in the world.” Bolton opposes any large cuts to the defense budget.

Bolton emphasizes that his top goal is to “pursue our interests.” He does not believe America’s interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya ought to involve establishing democracies in those countries.“I think our main interest has to be to defeat our enemies, and I have very little faith in our ability to create out of whole cloth democratic institutions.”.

In Afghanistan, he says,“What I am in favor of is destroying the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s capability to wage war. Doing that does not require creating a Jeffersonian, democratic regime in Kabul and eliminating corruption countrywide, because we are not going to do either of those two things. It means defeating the enemy.

“People don’t like to talk about victory and defeat anymore. But if you can’t talk about that, then you can’t define why we are there. That’s not to say that it’s going to happen tomorrow; it’s going to take a long time. But that has to remain the objective. And that, I think, is the strategic posture around which Republicans can and should unite.”

What should we leave behind in Afghanistan? “A pro-American government, with Taliban and al-Qaeda eliminated. If it were a democratic government in Afghanistan, I’d say ‘great.’ And if it were a non-democratic government, I’d say ‘great.’”

IN CONCLUSION

And my evaluation is: John Bolton is a candidate conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party people and the average American can and should support.

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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grouplove

Grouplove is Coming

Grouplove is the next great rock band. If you were lucky, you caught them singing “Naked Kids” and “Gold Coast” on Carson Daly’s TV show a few days ago… or you saw them open for Florence and the Machine last year. You may have paid five dollars to see them at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York last week, but that low price of admission will probably change in September when their first full length record comes out on Atlantic and makes a big splash.

The band was originally called Group, but then they realized the name was unGoogleable — so they added “love” to signify the bandmates’ deep friendship. I expect Grouplove to have a giant hit song in two years or less. You will not be able to get tickets at that point. Then, I expect them to have a large, sustaining cult following for decades. I cannot get Grouplove’s seemingly simple melodies out of my head. I listen to their EP over and over. You can hear most of the EP at http://www.grouplovemusic.com/

Their sound stands out from the crowd; it’s original and catchy. They have a garage-band quality mixed with harmonies that evolve into Moody Blues-style ethereal otherworldliness. They have danceable beats and strident lead vocals by guitarist Christian Zucconi that go from quirky folksong to falsetto to gravelly roughness.  And unlike so many bands whose style remains the same, each Grouplove song is deliberately different from the others. Artists with real long-term staying power, like  Bruce Springsteen or the Beatles, are able to create a diversity of musical styles.

Grouplove’s female voice and keyboard player, Hannah Hooper, continues to pursue her first career as a fine artist while performing with the band.  She painted the CD cover of their EP. She says her approach to fine art and the group’s approach to their music is the same: “The goal should be to make each piece unique. If [the pieces] can talk to each other, that’s a good thing, but if they can’t, that is also a good thing. That’s our approach to music.”

To bring the visual element of her paintings into the band, Hannah Hooper occasionally wears masks during their live performances. The mask goes on when she changes her singing style, as if she is transforming into another character.

Raised in San Francisco, she moved to New York, exhibiting her paintings at art galleries on both coasts as well as Paris and Berlin. Only a few days after meeting and instantly bonding with Christian Zucconi one night on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Ms. Hooper was invited to a summer art residency in Greece. She unhesitatingly invited Mr. Zucconi to join her there.

While in Crete, they randomly met the rest of the future band, who discovered a friendly affinity and musical chemistry together.  Zucconi and Hooper met guitarist-songwriter Sean Gadd of London, who happened to be visiting a friend in Greece, and they started playing music together for fun.  Los Angeles drummer-producer Ryan Rabin and his childhood friend, bass player Andrew Wessen, were in the middle of a European vacation. They met the trio, and started to join in on their spontaneous playing. Ryan Rabin turned out to be the son of movie composer/Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin.

At summer’s end, the group of new friends scattered around the globe but kept in touch. They decided they could not let their music and friendship in Crete be just a memory. Instead, they rustled up enough money to meet in Rabin’s studio in Los Angeles a year later to record their songs, and a friend of Rabin’s booked them to play some gigs.

“We seriously had the best time of our lives doing that record,” says Sean Gadd. Soon after, Zucconi and Hooper packed their things in Brooklyn, and Sean Gadd said goodbye to London. With the five bandmates living in Los Angeles, Grouplove was born.

The rest is about to be history!

“We never could have dreamt this up” says Zucconi, “but at the same time we’re not at all surprised — GROUPLOVE is meant to be.”

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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Gary Johnson Announces Presidential Run

In these days of massive debt and out-of-control Federal spending, with taxes and regulations choking off businesses’ ability to create new jobs, many in the non-partisan Tea Party movement believe the key political issue today is returning to a government limited to protecting the individual’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, achieved in part by cutting taxes and spending and strictly following the U.S. Constitution.

They believe those core ideals, at least in the current crisis, trump the social or religious-right issues (abortion, gay marriage) that tend to divide the country.

If there is a Presidential candidate tailor-made for that approach, it might be former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

Johnson is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, April 21 in Concord, New Hampshire.

A Political Outsider

Much like the founders, Johnson has not been a career politician. He owned a large construction business, and had no political experience, before running for and winning the governorship of New Mexico in 1994.

This positions him well for those who seek a Washington outsider who has interests other than gaining power. One blogger, Josiah Schmidt, calls him “disarmingly normal.”

Seeks a Balanced Budget

His top issue is “balancing the budget” and avoiding a financial collapse. He calls the national debt “the greatest threat to our national security.”

He states that he agrees with the Austrian economists Hayek and Von Mises that “markets should be free. That we should have a strong Dollar. That saving, and not spending, makes the economy grow.”

Independent Views on Drugs and Gay Marriage

But unlike many other Republicans, Johnson’s principled belief in liberty leads him to support legalizing marijuana and gay marriage.

He may be counting on New Hampshire’s independent streak to make a strong showing in the Republican primary there, which would give him early momentum. He thinks his libertarian views will attract more voters to the Republican Party and differentiate him from the other GOP candidates whose positions he expects to be cookie cutter.

“I’m trying to grow the base; I’m trying to grow the Republican Party,” he says. “I can’t imagine denying rights to gay couples that want to experience the American dream just like everybody else.” Johnson believes 50% of Republicans would agree with him.

As to legalizing marijuana, he sees it in part as avoiding wasteful spending and needless incarceration. “Half of the money we’re spending on the courts and law enforcement and prisons is drug related,” he says. “The violence on the border with Mexico is drug related.” Johnson has admitted using marijuana for pain control after a paragliding accident.

Cutting Defense Spending

His willingness to cut the defense budget also differentiates him from the typical Republican. He is vocal in his opposition to U.S. involvement in Libya, and has called for an end to American military involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Making perhaps his most controversial statement, Johnson says Iran’s nuclear program isn’t a threat to the United States because the principle of “mutually assured destruction” would keep the Iranians from attacking. Critics say this view ignores the fundamentalist Islamic motivation behind suicide bombers engaged in jihad, which Iran may support.

Successful Governor

As Governor, Johnson successfully limited state spending, vetoing more than 750 pieces of legislation in his two terms of office. Term limits kept Johnson from seeking a third term.

“New Mexico is 2 to 1 Democrat. So I’ve gotten reelected in a state that’s 2 to 1 Democrat vetoing as many bills as I did.” He attributes his victories to his appeal to cross-over Democrats and Independents.

Johnson blames both parties for the financial crisis. “The Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency eight years ago and passed the prescription and drug benefit. That’s not why I signed up to be a Republican.”

 

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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atlas-shrugged-part-1

‘Atlas Shrugged, Part 1′ Debuts April 15

Internet chatter among fans of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged about the forthcoming movie version has been mixed: part excited anticipation to finally see a cinematic adaptation, part dread that it will be mediocre or misrepresent the novel’s message and spirit. Continue reading

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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Artists on the Right: Kelsey Grammer

On September 8, 2010, Kelsey Grammer and other like-minded investors launched Right Network,a TV network targeted at right-wing viewers. Besides the web, it’s currently available on-demand on Verizon FiOS and Nokia phones.

An accomplished and successful actor, producer and director, Kelsey Grammer is openly right-wing politically. He says he “came out” as a conservative in Hollywood—a rarity—twenty years ago.

Here is RightNetwork’s Launch Day video and Show Reel:

The network’s initial crop of programs includes Running, a reality show following the political campaigns of several Tea-Party-backed first-time candidates this year. It includes John Dennis’s newsworthy run against Nancy Pelosi. Another program is Right2Laugh featuring political stand-up comedy.

Grammer says of the new network:  “We’re not out to vilify or accuse or identify anybody as an enemy. We’re out there to encourage people to open their minds and take a look at some things that we as a group of people believe is the right direction for the country.”

He believes the major networks like ABC and NBC are “flooded with a very particular point of view. They won’t admit it, but it’s clearly the way it is. There’s plenty of room for us.”

Grammer campaigned for John McCain in 2008, although during the primaries he supported Rudy Giuliani for President. He consistently donates to Republican candidates, with one glaring exception. Earlier in his career, a prominent sitcom director threatened to fire him unless he donated money to Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate campaign. To keep his job, he did so.

Grammer said, “I wish Hollywood was a two-party town, but it’s not.”

In his own words: “I’m a real small-government guy… you help the people who can’t help themselves. But there are precious few who can’t. And that’s it.”

On Fox News in 2003, Grammer said, “I consider myself a centrist, I suppose, but I basically believe in trying to preserve as much opportunity for the individual, as long as that individual chooses to work as hard as he can.” He said he may someday run for the Senate as a Republican, as a way to serve his country. His grandfather served in the U.S. military.

After interviewing Kelsey Grammer, Adam Sternbergh wrote in New York Magazine of March 21, 2010 that  “he’s pro-liberty (‘The greatest treasure in all of America is the individual’), anti-stimulus (‘I’m not sure that it stimulated anything’), pro-choice (‘but I don’t advocate for abortion’), unmoved by health-care reform (‘If it takes six weeks to get a license plate, imagine what they’ll do with an MRI’), and agnostic on Sarah Palin. ‘I don’t like that so many women are willing to beat up on an attractive woman. That said, she wasn’t ready. Obviously. In twenty years, she could be a formidable force.’”

Grammer, 55, has won five Emmy Awards, four for the role of psychiatrist Frasier Crane on Frasier, and one for a voice over performance on The Simpsons. He has also earned a Directors Guild of America nomination for directing an episode of Frasier and most recently a Tony nomination for leading actor in La Cage Aux Folles. In addition, he has won two Golden Globe awards and numerous other honors. He is said to be worth $50 million.

Grammer has recently shown signs of a happy romance with his new girlfriend Kayte Walsh, 29, who is expecting their first child.

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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Artists on the Right: Walt Disney Part 2

Walt Disney’s works often celebrate American values:  optimism and innocence (Pollyanna, Summer Magic), hard work leading to amazing achievements (Ten Who Dared, The Absent-Minded Professor), and even the individual’s fight against the tax collector (Dr. Syn Alias The Scarecrow).

He championed the wonders of progress under free enterprise; e.g., his original concept of EPCOT as an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” and the 1964 World’s Fair attraction Carousel of Progress, now at Walt Disney World, where he showed a family’s life getting easier every decade thanks to new innovations.

Disney often presented the stories of actual heroes from American history, such as Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Abraham Lincoln.

In 1966, Disney told an interviewer that as a child he read “American history and biographies…I especially admired Lincoln, because of his background, and where he went, and how he did it all himself. I’ve always thought well, too, of Henry Ford. He was an advanced thinker, put this country on wheels with the tin-lizzie and set up social patterns that have lasted. He had in mind the welfare of his workers…”

Walt said about his childhood, “the home environment was important. We had discipline…Self-discipline is learned by example, and my dad believed in it strongly. We always were self-sufficient, but we had no luxuries—had to earn everything we got, which is good for a boy growing up.”

In 1913, at age eleven, Walt already started making money creatively:  he would enter Charlie Chaplin-impersonation contests and “ad lib and play with my cane and gloves. Sometimes I’d win $5, sometimes $2.50, sometimes just get carfare. “

At age 16 Walt impersonated an 18 year old to join the Red Cross so he could go to war. He worked at an evacuation hospital in Paris driving an ambulance in the aftermath of World War I.

Throughout his life, Walt benefited from his understanding of capitalism, mutual trade for mutual benefit. He got his first office rent-free by selling a restaurant owner on trading artwork for desk space. He persuaded Kansas City businessmen to invest in his animation studio for their own potential profit. He later embraced television as an advertising tool for his movies and for Disneyland, when other film studios saw TV as the competition.

Walt would probably not see eye-to-eye with those liberals of today who want to provide a cradle-to-grave nanny state, who give trophies to the losing team as well as the winning team to prevent hurt feelings, or who seek to protect everyone from struggles or hardships that if experienced may enlighten or may lead to great productivity.

Walt said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Walt told his employees in 1941, during a time of union tensions in his studio, “Don’t forget this –it’s the law of the universe that the strong shall survive and the weak must fall by the way, and …nothing can change that.”

Those union tensions led to a strike, which was a pivotal experience in Walt’s turning from apolitical to right-wing Republican.

Art Babbit, the president of Walt’s in-house cartoonists’ union, wanted Disney’s artists to join Big Labor. Babbit left the in-house union and joined Communist Herb Sorrell’s Screen Cartoonists’ Guild, recruiting other Disney artists.

Walt saw this as a betrayal after sacrificing to build a new Burbank studio for his artists’ comfort, with a gym, baseball field, and a restaurant with prices below wholesale.

Babbit called for a boycott of Disney films if Walt refused to recognize the SCG. Walt dismissed 20 SCG members saying he would only bargain with a union chosen by majority vote by secret ballot. SCG refused the vote and about half of Walt’s artists (around 300) walked out. The strike wore on through the summer but Walt refused to settle.

However, while Walt was in Latin America on a goodwill tour, FDR sent a representative of the Dept. of Labor to meet with his brother Roy, who agreed to binding arbitration, ending the strike.

Walt and Roy thought the strike was not based on grievances but simply ideological.  Roy said, “Money was never the basic problem in this thing as much as Communism.”

As the 1940s continued, Walt was convinced that Communist infiltration of Hollywood was destroying the film industry and Disney’s own financial situation, and was promoting values destructive to America.  In 1944, he became vice president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, which informed the U.S. Congress about Communists in the film industry.

In 1947 the newly Republican Congress finally responded, and the House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Hollywood. HUAC’s friendly witnesses included Walt Disney, Gary Cooper, Robert Taylor and Adolphe Menjou.

Walt named names.  He said that by taking over unions they misrepresent the industry as supporting their ideology:  “I believe they ought to be smoked out and shown up for what they are.”

A year earlier, in 1946, Ayn Rand, another friendly witness to the HUAC, who had escaped from Communist Russia in her youth, had sent Disney an advance copy of her novella Anthem set in a bleak collectivist future.  She wrote, “I think its theme would appeal to you… I don’t have to point out to you how important a picture with such a theme would be at the present moment.”

Walt Disney always remained optimistic, however.  In 1966 he proclaimed, “To the youngsters of today, I say believe in the future, the world is getting better; there still is plenty of opportunity.”

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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Artists on the Right: Walt Disney Part 1

Few American artists have had as much lasting influence on its culture as Walt Disney. Families continue to watch his animated cartoons Snow White and Dumbo seventy years after they premiered, and visit Disney parks fifty-five years after Disneyland opened. His works capture and reflect the American spirit.

Walt Disney was a Republican who testified against Communists and promoted the benefits of free enterprise.

Surprisingly, Walt Disney’s parents Elias and Flora had been radical leftists who voted for Socialist Party presidential candidates Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas.

Walt told a story about his early political development to Maurice Rapf, a writer on Song of the South. According to Rapf, when Walt was a boy in Kansas City, Mo., a gang of kids whose fathers worked for local Democratic politicians pulled down his pants and coated his scrotum with hot tar — because Walt’s father was a socialist. (Sources:  Neal Gabler’s  Walt Disney and Maurice Rapf’s Back Lot.)

In 1912 union leader Eugene V. Debs ran for President as the Socialist Party candidate. Debs was likely to take votes away from Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who was in a tight race against Progressive Theodore Roosevelt.  So perhaps it was in 1912, when Walt Disney was only ten, that sons of the Kansas City Democratic political machine attacked him.  (It may have happened four years later, although the 1916 Socialist Party candidate, Allan Benson, was less of a threat to Wilson)

Whether the violent gang saw the Socialist Party as anti-American or, more likely, as taking votes away from their fathers’ candidate, Walt reacted not by joining with his father’s party but by rebelling against the entire Left, and, he said, becoming a “dyed-in-the wool Republican.”

Despite this comment, Walt Disney was not politically consistent or active before the 1940s. Disney artist/writer Joe Grant called Walt “apolitical” in the early years:  “He was an extreme liberal at one time” viewing socialism as “about everybody pulling together.” (Source:  Pat Williams’ How to Be Like Walt)

Walt actually voted for Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, while his brother Roy canceled him out by voting for Republican Alf Landon.

However, turning against FDR, Walt supported 1940 Republican candidate Wendell Willkie, who initially campaigned against the New Deal (before waffling). Walt’s policy of silence about politics prevented him from publicly endorsing Willkie.

In 1941, some of Disney’s employees went on strike, urged on by Communist Party member and union head Herbert Sorrell.  This event had a major impact on Disney’s politics thereafter.

In 1944, Walt said, “as an independent voter I owe allegiance to no political party.” But for the first time, he did endorse a Presidential nominee:  Thomas Dewey, a Republican. Disney donated heavily to the GOP in 1944 and gave a pro-Dewey speech. He also joined the Motion Picture Alliance, an anti-Communist and anti-Fascist group in Hollywood that led to the HUAC hearings. In 1947 Walt testified at the hearings.

Walt’s 1944 activity marked the start of his consistent support of Republicans for the rest of his life. In 1953 Disney produced a television ad for Dwight Eisenhower’s campaign. In 1966, Disney supported Ronald Reagan’s run for Governor of California.

And Disney showed his support for Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential campaign even while being honored by his opponent, President Johnson.

Animation historian Michael Barrier writes that when Walt learned Johnson would award him the Medal of Freedom, his daughter Diane was dismayed. Barrier quotes Diane Disney Miller:  “It was during the Goldwater campaign, and we were all united in enthusiastic support of the senator. I felt that it was all a ploy….a powerful photo op [for LBJ].”

Barrier writes, “there’s no question that Walt wore at least one Goldwater campaign button when he accepted the Medal of Freedom from President Johnson.”

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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Artists on the Right – A Series

This is an introductory essay about my upcoming series of profiles of right-wing artists.

Introduction

Many arts-oriented intellectuals accept as a basic truth a false dogma about artists: all good and lasting art and therefore all good artists are inherently left-wing politically.  They point to the trend in literature, songs and movies to celebrate and glamorize the downtrodden outsider vs. the powerful establishment, implying class warfare and welfare statism.

In the New York Times of October 14, 2008, Patricia Cohen writes that contemporary American theater contains few if any plays about conservative values. She quotes André Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater for 16 years, “I’m trying to think if I ever read a play that I would call conservative…I don’t think I’ve come across one.”

However, right-wing playwright Jonathan Reynolds tells Cohen the problem is really that liberal artistic directors won’t touch plays with conservative themes.

John Stoehr in the October 29, 2008 Charleston City Paper writes that Stephen Elliot, the novelist, says that “literary fiction is character driven, and to write good characters you have to have empathy, and if you have empathy, you’re a liberal.”

According to Stoehr, Frank Martin of SC State University claims all art is political: “‘True empathy implies liberalism,’ Martin says. ‘If I feel the pain of the other, that means the other cannot be exploited. Thus, empathy is inherently liberal.’”

Guy Hasson, a playwright and blogger, writes in his blog of May 9, 2007 “you have to be a liberal to be a good artist… To be able to write… two sides [of a conflict] well, the artist has to understand, deep inside, that both sides are equally human.”

Hasson, Martin, and Elliot assert that to be right-wing is to be without empathy, and therefore to exploit people. Just as this is not the definition of right-wing, so too, good artists do not have to be liberals.

In fact, classic artworks usually focus on an individual’s free-will choices that lead to triumph or tragedy, and self-responsibility is a right-wing premise.

Stoehr quotes conservative blogger Ann Althouse:  “[A] great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist … may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath … there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world.”

Also, many classic stories in literature and films are based on a conflict between good and evil, which fits a right-wing moral values-based point of view.

As good art is not necessarily liberal, good artists themselves are not necessarily left-oriented.

The promotion of the idea that artists are inherently liberals may make a career in the arts unappetizing to right-wing artists, or else cause them to self-censor, thereby becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. This results in generation after generation of cartoonists, filmmakers, authors and singers who exclude views and subjects that don’t fit the liberal mold.

Perhaps this explains why we continue to see so many movies and novels about evil businessmen (Wall Street), heroic pacifists (Ghandi) and men exploiting nature or other races (Avatar). It explains why we rarely see movies or books or songs celebrating heroic businessmen or strong, decisive generals or noble cowboys any more.

I present this series of articles about artists on the right to disprove the idea of leftists necessarily monopolizing the arts. I hope to encourage more right-wing filmmakers, cartoonists, authors and songwriters to take the plunge so that their perspective is represented.

I define left-wing as supporting big government, tax-and-spend, redistribute-the-wealth policies, a pacifist or altruist foreign policy, the sacrifice of individual and property rights for the sake of society or the planet. The left-wing spectrum ranges from liberal Democrats to Communists.

I define right-wing as a generally pro-capitalism perspective, supporting small government limited to protecting individual rights, and supporting self-responsibility, liberty, strong moral principles of right and wrong, and a self-interested foreign policy. The right-wing spectrum loosely includes Republicans, libertarians, Tea Partiers and Ayn Rand Objectivists.

Greg Zeigerson

My initial fifteen minutes of fame took place when I was a ten-year -old cartoonist for New Jersey's Asbury Park Press leading to my appearances on TV's To Tell The Truth and in the National Enquirer. I created short live and animated films while studying filmmaking and journalism at NYU. Since then, I have written articles for the Asbury Park Press and other publications, produced TV shows for Queens Public Television in NY, and self-published a comic book. For a brief period, I  was an official caricature artist at Walt Disney World. Besides contributing to Parcbench.com, I perform the challenging work of being a father to twins, I edit medical and legal copy and I write spec scripts for TV and films.

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