Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Donald Trump’s case against the NEA has nothing to do with budgets
I am a considerable Kulcha vulture myself. J.S. Bach is my favourite composer, I dabble in languages -- mostly German and Latin, I read history virtually daily, I recite Middle English poetry, I enjoy Austro/Hungarian operettas, I have read most of the Ancient Greek canon, I rarely watch TV and I listen to very little popular music. But I do what I do because I like and enjoy doing those things. I can see no reason why the taxpayer should fund them. If you don't like it enough to pay for it, why should someone else be forced to do so?
The supposed benefits -- "art has the power to console, transform, welcome, and heal" -- are as far as I am aware undemonstrated. The arts are simply to be enjoyed. They may at times have some didactic function but that is very incidental
WITH SPITEFUL, RECKLESS policies emanating from the White House every day, threatening real lives as well as the national character, it may seem trivial to worry about the arts. But few things provide more solace in hard times than art, or better promote empathy and human connection. No wonder people fear president Trump has no use for it.
A report last month in The Hill, a respected Washington newsletter, said that members of Trump’s transition team are preparing a budget blueprint to cut federal spending by over $1 trillion a year. Among the scythes sweeping through the plan — modeled closely after a proposal by the Heritage Foundation — are the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
It’s tempting to hope that this latest threat will be just another passing skirmish in the culture wars. The arts agencies, and public broadcasting, have been targeted before – usually when some edgy provocateur touches on a volatile social issue. Conservatives rage, until Big Bird comes to the rescue and cultural funding is mostly restored. But one thing we have learned in the tumultuous first weeks of this presidency is that Donald Trump’s pronouncements are not metaphor. It is better to take him literally.
So what would it mean to eliminate the NEA?
The $148 million agency doesn’t fund individual artists directly, but supports local arts councils that distribute grants. Sure, beloved institutions like the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of Fine Arts are recipients, but most of the money goes to small arts companies that would otherwise struggle financially or fold.
The latest round of NEA funding for Massachusetts includes money for Project Step, which gives lessons in classical string instruments to talented minority students; the Anna Myer Dancers of Cambridge, which brings modern dancers and professional poets together with urban teenagers to examine issues of race in America; Shelter Music Boston Inc., which sends accomplished musicians to perform in homeless shelters; and a Huntington Theatre production of a new work by Pakistani-American playwright Ayad Akhtar, about the role of women in Islam. Outside Boston, the NEA underwrites the Military Healing Arts Partnership, an arts therapy program that helps service members overcome war trauma and reintegrate into civilian life. The grants touch people in every county in every state.
The total cost per American for the entire annual NEA budget? Forty-six cents, less than the price of a postage stamp.
The tiny cost suggests something else is at issue besides balancing the budget, and indeed the case against the NEA is mostly ideological. Opponents of government funding argue that there is ample private money to support the arts, that taxpayers shouldn’t support art they find offensive or banal, and that if an artist can’t succeed in the free market, the work must not be any good. But without public funding, only the most popular or commercial work will be seen. Of course the government has a role in fostering culture. What’s next? The Library of Congress? The Smithsonian Institution?
Some arts patrons are trying to appeal to Trump’s own values to save the NEA, noting that the arts economy generates millions of jobs that can’t be outsourced and billions in economic activity. That’s true enough. But more persuasive is the argument advanced by cellist Yo Yo Ma, who has been advocating for more arts education in schools. Besides flexible thinking, innovation, and collaboration, he says, art teaches empathy: “the ultimate quality that acknowledges our identity as members of one human family.” From the expressive dance of Mark Morris to the embracing poetry of Emma Lazarus, art has the power to console, transform, welcome, and heal. It’s what the world needs now.
NRA’s Chris Cox: Obama Lacked ‘Political Backbone’ to Keep Chicago from ‘National Disgrace’
On February 1 NRA-ILA executive director Chris Cox told Breitbart News that President Obama lacked the “political backbone” to act and keep Chicago from becoming a “national disgrace.”
Cox was being interviewed for the upcoming episode of Breitbart News podcast, Bullets with AWR Hawkins.
He said, “This is very simple, you prosecute the criminals who are breaking the law, you let law-abiding people have the ability to defend themselves, because in Chicago there’s a lot more bars on windows than gates around communities.” He added, “This is no longer funny, it’s a national disgrace and a tragedy.”
He then turned to Obama’s inaction:
We had eight years where President Obama could have done something about his supposed hometown. He could have worked with Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor. But he certainly could have picked up the phone to the Justice Department and said, ‘Look, every one of these gang members; every one of these murderers and rapists and thugs in Chicago, when they get arrested on a gun charge or a drug charge, turn it over to the U.S. Attorney [and] prosecute [them] in federal court and put them in jail.’ But he didn’t do that. He didn’t do that because he didn’t [have] the political backbone and the will to do it.
We asked Cox about Representative Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL-4) attempts to blame Chicago gun violence on the NRA. Cox said, “Gutierrez and the rest of them are playing the people for fools. People are smarter than that. People understand that you can respect the rights of law-abiding people–and our inherent, preexisting right to defend ourselves–while at the same time, going after and prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms. Those are not mutually exclusive ideas despite the left’s having such a hard time wrapping their head around it.”
Sponsors of Anarchy
By Michelle Malkin
I've covered the left's criminal anarchist element for more than 20 years — from the animal rights terrorists who have harassed, threatened and firebombed scientific researches across the U.S. and Europe to the anti-capitalist thugs who wreaked havoc on downtown business owners at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle and the 2010 G-20 summit in Toronto to the ANSWER Coalition and Code Pink's not-so-peaceful peaceniks who disrupted congressional hearings and menaced veterans memorials and military recruiting stations throughout the George W. Bush years to the Occupy Wall Street vagrants and rapists of 2011-12 to the rent-a-rioters who hijacked Ferguson, Baltimore and other Black Lives Matter demonstrations against police.
My favorites over the years? I'll never forget the seditious mother in Olympia, Washington, who tied bandanas over her kids' faces and recklessly planted them in the middle of a street 10 years ago to block trucks carrying military shipments. She was so caught up in the excitement of her "direct action" that she dropped her baby on the ground as her anarchist compatriots threw rocks at police and soldiers driving around them.
Then there were the "progressive" nitwits who handcuffed themselves to concrete-filled barrels in January 2015 and shut down traffic in the Boston area (risking the lives of crash victims waiting for an ambulance that was blocked) to protest ... something or other.
Clenched-fist troublemakers will use any mass gathering as an excuse to undermine civil society. Social media and the irresistible lure of virality have only strengthened their incentive to "FSU" (f— s— up). Here's another thing you can take to the bank: "Mainstream" protesters on the streets of D.C. will look the other way at these lawless vandals who leech onto any available cause. Their common goal is not "social justice." It's destabilization and disorder.
In Oakland, California, far-left "activist" Mayor Jean Quan groveled to Occupy agitators and refused to crack down as small businesses were destroyed and cops were attacked.
Oberlin grad Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Democratic mayor of Baltimore, infamously created a safe space for rioters sabotaging inner-city businesses.
The American Civil Liberties Union has written the literal playbook for redefining violent protest as "free speech" and obstructing police planning efforts to defend cities against left-wing chaos.
Kory Flowers, a North Carolina-based law enforcement expert on domestic anarchists and criminal subversive groups, describes the persistent pot stirrers as "cause parasites." In 2012, at the Democratic National Convention, where international media coverage was assured, Flowers reported that anarchists had manufactured "urine-filled eggs, acid-filled Christmas ornaments, and water guns containing urine, all meant to be used against the law enforcement security forces throughout the city."
Five years later, investigative journalist James O'Keefe exposed D.C.-based anarchists associated with the #DisruptJ20 (Jan. 20) movement on tape this week as they were plotting to invade inaugural balls with stink bombs, trigger sprinkler systems to force attendees out in the cold, chain themselves to Metro trains and hunt down city officials who act against them.
"If you try to close us down, we will look for your house. We will burn it. We will physically fight the police if they try to steal one of our places. We will go to war, and you will lose," one plotter threatened.
Many of these guerrilla punks employ "Black Bloc" tactics, Flowers notes, wearing all-black clothes "to appear as a unified assemblage, giving the appearance of solidarity for the particular cause at hand," which allows "virtual anonymity while conducting criminal acts as a group." They may be a fringe minority, but it's the continued tolerance of these vandals, looters and terrorist wannabes on the ground by "mainstream" community organizers and politicians that gives them cover — and power.
Lee Stranahan, an independent journalist and blogger who covers protest movements for Breitbart, adds: "It's important that Americans not be lulled into a false sense of security by such an oversimplification. While it's been proven that funders like (billionaire George) Soros and the Democrat party have paid protest organizers and some protesters, groups like the violent Black Bloc typically aren't motivated by money, but instead come to protests because of their anti-American ideology, base criminal desires and thrill seeking."
Opponents of President-elect Donald Trump's have accused him of "inspiring violence" and bringing out the worst in people. Wrong. The active and passive sponsors of left-wing political mayhem are the ones guilty of enabling it over the past quarter-century. Restoring peace and justice starts with restoring law and order. Either you're against the rule of the mob or you're with it.
Trump Should End Government Funding of NPR’s Biased News
Is National Public Radio’s description of an Obama urban directive as something that merely “links [government] funding to desegregation” fake news?
Well, it’s so slanted that if you had no prior knowledge of the program, and heard NPR’s depiction of it, you would just say to yourself, “Sounds good to me.”
But to many conservatives, including the man that President Donald Trump has nominated to be the new secretary of housing and urban development, Ben Carson, the Orwellian “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” is a tortured interpretation of the Fair Housing Act.
To them, coercing suburbs to build high-density, low-income housing in order to reflect the national racial makeup—even when there isn’t a hint of discrimination—is an outrageous attempt to pursue the liberal dream of closing down the suburbs by changing their nature.
To Stanley Kurtz, writing in National Review, “the regulation amounts to back-door annexation, a way of turning America’s suburbs into tributaries of nearby cities.”
Carson, writing in The Washington Times, said the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing directive reminded him of the “failed socialist experiments of the 1980s.” That view was not reflected in NPR reporter Pam Fessler’s unflattering piece on Carson following his nomination. The piece referred positively to the housing program as “stepped up enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which is intended to reduce segregation.”
Like other examples of NPR’s treatment of Cabinet appointments and other domestic and international news, Fessler’s report echoed almost exclusively the worldview of the left.
This is a characteristic that is shared to some degree by the Public Broadcasting System, NPR’s television equivalent.
And this attribute will become a problem for the taxpayer-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which oversees both NPR and PBS, as the incoming Trump administration looks to make cuts in the budget—as it should.
To be sure, NPR and PBS will have the odd National Review editorial writer or conservative scholar on as a guest commentator once in a while. But that is not the issue.
The issue is that a conservative philosophy and outlook doesn’t inform the way the news is written and presented the way, say, Mother Jones seems to do.
We saw what happens when a journalist “gets” both sides. Fox News’ Chris Wallace received bipartisan praise for the way he moderated the last presidential debate in October.
As The Wall Street Journal put it at the time, there was a reason he was more effective than his preceding moderators:
He asked questions that would never have even occurred to the other moderators. Mr. Wallace’s personal politics are a mystery to us, but his position as an anchor at Fox News … means he is exposed to political points of view that are alien at most other media outlets.
NPR has done nothing to counter its persistent liberal bias, despite years of complaints from conservatives—including us—that its patent lack of diversity of thought was unfair and misguided for a tax-funded entity.
Several changes at the top during the past few years have had no apparent impact.
The partially taxpayer-funded public broadcaster appeared to be trying to turn a new leaf in 2011 when it brought in Gary Knell as CEO “to calm the waters,” following the ouster of Vivian Schiller. Charges of liberal bias under Schiller had revived conservative calls to defund NPR.
Knell lasted only 20 months, however, and several changes later, NPR in 2014 doubled down on its worldview. It named as its CEO Jarl Mohn, a former senior official with the American Civil Liberties Union who has given at least $217,000 mostly to “Democratic candidates and political committees” by NPR’s own admission.
NPR’s only response to conservative complaints about its liberal viewpoint is to deny that this is the case. It’s the “Who you gonna believe, us or your lying ears?” defense.
So, no wonder the reporting on the nominees was off. Carson wasn’t the exception. Here are several others:
The piece on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, lacked any kind of perspective on the harm that the agency’s aggressive regulatory zeal has caused to companies large and small. Also missing was how the EPA shakes down companies and forces them either to make contributions to environmental groups or face huge fines.
Such details may have put into context the scathing, melodramatic attack on Pruitt by the Sierra Club, one of the groups that may now lose both influence and funds, which reporter Nell Greenfieldboyce included in her piece. The “conservative balance” lacked any of these details, but actually offered another negative: George Will’s observation that Pruitt had been “one of the Obama administration’s most tenacious tormentors.”
Jessica Taylor’s report on the choice of fast-food restaurant CEO Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor made note of his opposition to raising the minimum wage. The piece was remarkably neutral in that it did not reflect any assumption as to whether this policy is good or bad for employees making minimum wage.
Not so for the analysis that Jeremy Hobson (host of NPR’s “Hear and Now”) conducted with Business Insider’s Kate Taylor. There, the worries of “labor groups” about Puzder’s “commitments to labor rights” were prominent.
“Anybody pushing for passage of laws that protect labor rights are going to have a bit of an uphill struggle,” Taylor concluded. There was no conservative counterweight.
Nor is NPR’s liberal slant limited to only Trump’s Cabinet appointments.
Scott Simon’s commentary on Cuban dictator Fidel Castro upon his death was actually titled, “Easy to See Why Some Loved Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Many More Fled.”
Right up front there was a trope about how “American mobsters used to run this place.” But actually, Cuba was a thriving economy when Castro took over in 1958, one that compared favorably with Mediterranean Europe or Southern U.S. states. But you didn’t hear that from Simon.
It shouldn’t surprise that the views held by the left form the background of many stories, as NPR either directly quotes liberal outlets as reference points or uses language that is undistinguishable.
On the very controversial public debate over whether men should be able to use women’s bathrooms if they identify as women, NPR’s Ethics Handbook uses as a reference point the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s guidelines in recommending that the debate be cast as “whether transgender people should be allowed to use public bathrooms ‘based on their gender identities or, instead, what’s stated on their birth certificates.’”
Many Americans—and not just conservatives—however, take issue with the notion that “a man can be trapped in a woman’s body” or vice-versa. Sex to them is a matter of objective biology, not a subjective social construct.
As the Washington Examiner put it before the end of the year, “Not everyone heeds the command to pretend that Caitlyn Jenner is a woman.”
These are views held by millions of taxpayers. By choosing only one side, NPR’s reporting can be as skewed as anything found on MSNBC—or conservative talk radio for that matter.
But because it is delivered in mellifluous and serene tones, a pitch which NPR staffers refer to with self-congratulation as “Minnesota Nice,” and because it has the stamp of the government’s endorsement, the reporting is considered objective and reflective.
The consumer, therefore, is likely not adding an extra layer of caution—the caveat emptor factor that one adds with Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity.
To the question asked at the start of this piece: No, NPR’s description of “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” wasn’t fake news. But it wasn’t the whole news, either.
And listeners have a right to know they must use a prism, just as taxpayers have a right not to fund a one-sided news outlet.
The 2017 federal appropriations for the Center for Public Broadcasting were $445 million. PBS gets about $300 million of that.
Defenders say that in the age of a $19 trillion debt, this is a “rounding error.” Well, if it’s so small, then maybe cutting won’t hurt as much, and the money can be used elsewhere, or returned to taxpayers.
NPR will survive without government funding. It has a good membership model. It also offers a good product, as does PBS.
But the new conservative administration and congressional majority coming in have a responsibility to the conservative base not to continue to fund a “public broadcaster” that leaves half the nation feeling ignored.
If it doesn’t, the new governing majority had better get used to seeing its policies traduced on a regular basis by NPR, the way the new Cabinet’s positions clearly have been.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.