Thursday, August 06, 2009

Too Intellectually Bankrupt to Even Dredge up New Scapegoats

They may not openly acknowledge the impact of human activities on global warming or take a very vocal lead in promoting green technologies, but no one can accuse the right-wing punditry employed by Rupert Murdoch of not recycling. In what we would be safe to assume (this being its second time around) was meant as farce from any other source, Fox News and Wall Street Journal personalities have dug up and dusted off, just to spoon-feed their audiences again, virtually verbatim, the same rhetoric they just used in the 1980's to demonize the NEA's practices in awarding funding. And while we've debated a few times here whether federal tax dollars should ever be spent on the arts, the most annoying and transparent part of this recent bout of ranting is how obviously insincere they are about it. From Media Matters [via]:
Several media figures on Fox News and Fox Business -- including Glenn Beck -- have blasted the National Endowment for the Arts for awarding Recovery Act grants to San Francisco arts organizations, claiming the grants will pay for "porn." However, those personalities ignored significant facts: Direct grants were only made to organizations that were screened to receive funding in the past, and every group they criticized previously received tens of thousands of dollars from the Bush administration.
Important to keep in mind in all this is the fact that, as Media Matters notes, "NEA awarded Recovery Act grants only to groups that have been approved for funding in the past." In other words, when those organizations received money during the Bush era, what they did with it was left essentially un-scrutinized by the airbags on TV, but as soon as another Democrat takes the helm, they're all up in their business. We have a term for that in this country: political opportunism. Indeed, if Fox and the WSJ were so worried about tax dollars funding art programing they feel Americans might not approve of, where the hell were they when the Bush Adminstration approved it for these very same ogranizations, some of them as far back as 2002.

Then again, it's not like they have any new solutions to offer the public in these turbulent times, so they might as well reach for their golden oldies. What else they got to offer?

Labels: arts funding, nea, politics


Blogger Mark said...

They're as annoying as those tiny little blackflies madly trying to suck some blood before dying off. The only difference is they're nasty old white farts, trying to suck the air out of any room - hopefully with the same fate and soon.

8/06/2009 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

I'll see your one quote from Media Matters, and raise you two quotes from Heritage Foundation.

8/06/2009 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

quotes? we don't need no stinkin' quotes...unlike Heritage, MM trades in verifiable facts.

8/06/2009 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

I started following this story when it broke on July 30. Today, a Google News search returns a total of 14 items related to it - with the latest item dated August 1. So the story - which includes the fact that fifty members of congress sent a letter of protest to the NEA - was never picked up by national media (other than Fox News and the Wall Street Journal). The story died after three days, and has stayed dead for five days now. The fact that those fifty members of congress were laughably dishonest about their motives ("tax dollars shouldn't support what the open market place doesn't support") might have something to do with the death of the story. Congress being ridiculously dishonest isn't news.

8/06/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Hey, I know: Instead of funding individual artists and small arts organizations with chump change, let's give millions--no, make that trillions--to the big banks so that they can tighten their lending and give it all away to their chief executives. That way taxpayers (uh, that would be us)can award ginormous grants to a handful of people who already have a shitload of money.

Wait, now let's give another few billion--wait, let's make that trillions--to the auto industry. And even better, let's allow them to give out giant bonuses to the heads of their corporations.

Now, since we're on a roll, let's stuff money in sacks and ship it over to the Middle East--all the better to fund the bodies coming home in caskets.

The irony is that artists and arts organizations which are used to making do with so little, would make every grant dollar count.

As for paying for "porn," those flying phalluses with wings--the bankers' corporate jets, which brought them to Washington to ask for bailout money--were the biggest f-ck of all.

Forget pittance grants. Where's the bailout for the arts?

Thanks for letting me vent, Ed.

8/06/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

I don't disagree with any of the above. But, this is what happens when Big Guberment decides who gets to live and who gets to die.

8/06/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

kalm james, you're right, but it's even worse. Who gets to live or die under the NEA changes as Congress changes from election to election. The NEA was created by Congress and is subject to the whims of Congress. So I originally thought this current "scandal" would go somewhere, because the NEA is ignoring its own decency rules (written by Congress, challenged by artists and upheld by the Supreme Court). But I forgot that the Democrats have the majority now, so the NEA is "hands off." At least until the Republicans win back a majority of seats - which they will do, sooner or later. Hitching one's wagon to the NEA is a good way to guarantee a rough ride.

8/06/2009 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

the NEA is ignoring its own decency rules


And if so, did that begin as soon as the Dems took over, or was it happening under Bush?

8/06/2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

THese pundits know it is BS - but the point is to bait the "liberals," who, by taking umbrage, without making jokes (i.e. without humor) prove their "unreasonableness - the classic liberal lack of perspective, which proves the heart on a sleeve bleeding heart namby-pampy wishy washy attittude that opens the floodgate to societal chaos (just look at what happened when Jimmy Carter took the helm)

I havent been watching Colbert, but they showed some clips of Fox news showing how these controversies get astroturfed.

Astroturfing is the real goal here - riling up the constituency. That the NEW is a lightning rod for the culture war is proof that there is a problem.

THe only recourse is to reveal the hypocracy of many so called "conservative" pundits moralizing towards social issues like heath care (emergencty room care anyone?) war (quagmire?) and food (migrant labor).

8/06/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

“You and I have actually talked about it at some length, which shows that you also have dementia.”

about DOn Imus

8/06/2009 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Ed, from the NEA's website, under "Legislation": National Foundation On The Arts And The Humanities Act Of 1965, National Endowment For The Arts Appropriations As Of Fiscal Year 2006, And Related Legislation

§954(d)(1) "... artistic excellence and artistic merit are the criteria by which applications are judged, taking into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public; and (2) applications are consistent with the purpose of this section. Such regulations and procedures shall clearly indicate that obscenity is without artistic merit, is not protected speech, and shall not be funded. Projects, productions, workshops, and programs that are determined to be obscene are prohibited from receiving financial assistance under this Act from the National Endowment for the Arts."

"§954(l)(1) "If, after reasonable notice and opportunity for a hearing on the record, the Chairperson determines that a recipient of financial assistance provided under this section by the Chairperson or any non-Federal entity, used such financial assistance for a project, production, workshop, or program that is determined to be obscene, then the Chairperson shall require that until such recipient repays such assistance (in such amount, and under such terms and conditions, as the Chairperson determines to be appropriate) to the Endowment; no subsequent financial assistance to be provided under this section to such recipient."

The language that requires the NEA to be proactive, and not just respond to complaints, is "taking into consideration general standards of decency." I would think the interpretation of "general standards" changes from election to election, from appointed Chairperson to appointed Chairperson and with each passing year (with the direction of cultural change). Anyways, getting involved with NEA funding is a potentially messy relationship.

8/06/2009 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angela Vettese "Birnbaum mi ha chiesto di dimettermi", Il Gazzettino 15 giugno 2009
Da Il Gazzettino, 15 giugno 2009, intervista ad Angela Vettese a firma di Sergio Frigo.
E' vero che la sua "collaborazione" alla mostra di Ca' Pesaro l'ha portata ad un passo dalle dimissioni dalla Giuria?
Vettese: "Effettivamente Daniel Birnbaum non mi ha nascosto il suo imbarazzo e mi ha pregato di dimettermi da presidente; non è stato praticabile perchè il mio ruolo era già stato ampiamente comunicato e perchè avremmo dato un'importanza fuori dall'ordine delle cose alla stessa iniziativa di Ca' Pesaro".

8/06/2009 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Tom, the organizations in question have stated that the funding is being used for staffing, etc., and not programs, per se.

Regardless, there remains the questions of whether any of these programs would be deemed as "obscene" in a court (and not just by the likes of Glenn Beck) and, most importantly of whether we the public should be alerted to the fact that Beck and his ilk are all to happy to let such funding pass unexamined so long as the Administration in power is aligned with them on other matters.

8/06/2009 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Ed, that's right - the distributed stimulus funds were specifically for job preservation in the arts. And I agree that some very base politics are responsible for this non-scandal. Still, if some group wants to challenge all this in court, they might succeed with an argument about what exactly constitutes "assistance for programs" etc.

8/06/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...

Silly me...Can I send you my comments in Portuguese or Spanish too?

I'm just wondering, what Sylvia Brown could tell about all this...



8/06/2009 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

let that one slip through, bad.

8/06/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...


Tres Chic

8/06/2009 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I oppose the use of tax dollars to support art, but I feel slimed when I see that the idea has been embraced by partisan douchebags. Maybe the word isn't so much "embraced" as "humped." Bush completely expended Republican claims to fiscal conservativism that would have lent credibility to an anti-NEA argument. Consequently this kind of rhetoric is only good for whipping up the base, and whipping up the base has now lost them two elections in a row and will lose them a third one if they don't get some decent ideas on the table. As a fiscal conservative myself, I would prefer government support of pornography (real porn, not just this artsy stuff going on in San Francisco) if we held it at current levels and scrapped all foreign military operations abroad. We'd get much bigger savings that way.

8/06/2009 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

But Edward, political opportunism attracts viewers. It's good for the economy! :-)

8/06/2009 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whereas a case can be made for arts funding--although I would exclude funding for artists, such as the NEA artist grant I received--I'm wondering what responsibility an arts organization has towards the funders. Should the public comment be silenced if the organization promoted art that was perceived as anti-global warming, or anti-homosexual? Okay we already know that such art would never be supported--which is an indictment against artistic freedom. Nevertheless, commenting about the use of tax dollars is a time honored expression of right to speech. And Media Matters benefits from that too.

8/07/2009 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Dread Scott said...

While I would agree that Glenn Beck et al are intellectually deficient, I think that there is a method to their madness and when the dogs are barking I think that it is quite serious. The Right Wing/Christian Fundamentalist attacks which included the Culture Wars of 80s/90s advanced their goal of society much more controlled by "traditional values" and dominated by biblical literalism. Abortion is much more difficult to get and Dr. Tiller was recently murdered. Prop 8 passed. Obama had biggot Rick Warren speak at his inauguration. The NEA still doesn't fund individual artists and is still under fire based on content. And way too many people who should be resisting these and numerous other outrages are too much on the defensive or still high off the Obama Kool-aid. This is a snapshot of a society with Right wing and Christian Fundamentalist lunacy on the move, not one where their bankrupt ideas are drifting off into the night. This should not be lightly dismissed, but should be closely paid attention to as perhaps the next battle in the Culture Wars. And I suspect that these SF organizations will need our support.

8/08/2009 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Obama appoints new NEA Chairperson:

You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd

8/09/2009 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

tarnations kalm james that's spelled "who gits ta liv n' who gits ta dy."

dont you be speaking the sofisticated langwig of those slick talkin' washinton libral elitiss.

but seriously what can be said of people who buy this crap without examples cited, at least in the 80s there were Mapplethorpe's shown on the news and in papers, which really is the opposite of the goal to censor them or proves the goal was to exploit them.

I have come to see what's going on with the wingnuts is that they are drowning and are scared and frantically thrashing about in the water and when the life guard swims over to rescue them, they would rather pull the lifeguard under with them then be rational and let the lifeguard pull them to safety.

One last snark.."Hey Sarah Palin, I thought up in Alaska the native elderly were expected to graciously hitch a ride on an Ice Flow when they became a burden to the tribe, put Country first and jump the next Flow.

8/09/2009 05:52:00 PM  

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