Trump’s Refusal To Accept The Results Of The Election Is Not ‘Suspense’ – It’s Treason

The third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is now history and that’s precisely the place it will reside. Never before has a candidate outright refused to respect the will of the voters. However, Trump is not an ordinary candidate. From the outset of his campaign he’s taken every opportunity to express disrespect for American principles and for his opponents. And that was true during the Republican primary as well as the general election.

Donald Trump

There were many times during the debate that Trump embarrassed himself. He blatantly lied about his prior support for countries like Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, to acquire nuclear weapons. He defended Russia against charges that they hacked American citizens and institutions. And he denied insulting the women he’s accused of assaulting even though videotape exists to prove it. Trump even blamed Clinton for his failure to pay federal income taxes for nearly two decades.

But the most disturbing thing Trump said last night was that he was unwilling to accept the results of the election if he loses. His baseless assertion that the system is “rigged” against him is typical of his paranoid, narcissistic approach everything. His specific complaints were a cacophony of incoherence. Beginning with this:

“I’ll look at it at the time. What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing. The New York Times actually wrote an article about it, but they don’t even care. It is so dishonest, and they have poisoned the minds of the voters.”

Even if the media were biased against him, that would not equate to voter fraud or make the election invalid. And he praises the New York Times in the same sentence that he criticizes it. Then he insults voters for allowing their minds to be poisoned, but only if they don’t vote for him. For the record, studies show that Trump received far more favorable coverage in the press than any other candidate.

Trump continued his anti-democratic rant with more blathering that is impossible to translate into human:

“Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote. So let me just give you one other thing. I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people. I’ll tell you one other thing. She shouldn’t be allowed to run. It’s … She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run, and just in that respect I say it’s rigged.”

First of all, the millions of people he’s referring to appear to be names that appear on registration rolls that may not be updated for deaths or relocations. Of course, there is zero evidence that anyone in those circumstances ever voter improperly. But what “serious crime” Trump has in mind is never mentioned. And in any case, he is not the arbiter of who is permitted to run for office. The Constitution doesn’t prohibit even felons from running. He is simply demonstrating his affinity for tyrannical rule. Just as he did when he promised to investigate and incarcerate Clinton if he should become president.

Debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News reminded Trump that his refusal to accept the election results contradicted pretty much everyone in own sphere of influence. Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chair, insisted that the election results should be respected. So did his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, his running mate Mike Pence, and his daughter, Ivanka. Nevertheless, Trump himself veered off to say only that “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” He still seems to think this a reality TV game show.

For her part, Clinton was appropriately appalled. She interjected to say “let me respond to that because that’s horrifying.” Continuing she said:

“This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks, and it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”

Exactly. That is how an adult behaves in a democracy. It’s a question of valuing the principles and traditions that define a free people. And it isn’t an act of partisanship. When you have people like GOP strategist Steve Schmidt saying Trump’s remarks are “a disqualifying moment,” and Fox analyst Charles Krauthammer calling it “political suicide,” it’s safe to say that party affiliation is not involved.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

What Trump has done is to plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of his gullible followers. He is saying that American elections are untrustworthy and not to be respected. That’s a recipe for chaos and it encourages the most demented malcontents to take matters into their own warped hands. If Donald Trump had an ounce of patriotism he would immediately reverse course and pledge to honor the election. But knowing him that would be way too much to expect.

Is This Treason? What Donald Trump Just Said Undermines American Democracy

It may be an Olympic-grade understatement to say that Donald Trump has done some god-awful things in his quest for the presidency. From mocking the disabled to ripping off veterans to insane proposals with regard to Muslims and immigrants. But he may just have outdone himself.

In a press conference this morning, Trump was asked about reports that Russia was responsible for the hacking of DNC emails. He has previously dismissed the charges as Democratic efforts to distract from the content of the stolen emails, despite the fact that it is the FBI and other intelligence agencies who identified Russia as the likely culprit.

Trump Putin

His response to today’s inquiries, however, introduced a new and deeply disturbing tactic on Trump’s part. He offered, without prompting, his interest in further exploiting the email theft to his advantage. In a direct response to a question on whether he would condemn the hacking he said “No, it gives me no pause,” and that:

“If Russia or China or any other country has those emails I mean to be honest with you, I’d love to see em.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Donald Trump, the nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States, is affirmatively endorsing the notion of revealing private information that was stolen from Americans by a foreign and hostile government. That is an untenable and unpatriotic position that undermines the country’s interests as well as the principles of personal privacy and information security. But it gets even worse. Trump went on to say:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

In that statement Trump is literally soliciting Russia to commit cyber-crimes and espionage against fellow Americans. How is that not treasonous? He continued with a thinly disguised reference to Russia being “rewarded mightily” for their hacking. Is that an offer to compensate Russian hackers and spies for their efforts? Or is Trump simply implying that Russia would benefit from a Trump presidency and that he would make it worth their while were they to sabotage the campaign of Hillary Clinton? Either way he is taking up sides with an international foe against his own country. Now what is it that we call that?

In the press conference Trump flatly denied having any connection to Russian politics or business. That’s a lie. Has he already forgotten his Miss Universe Pageant he held in Moscow just three years ago? But his Russian ties go much deeper than that. As reported by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo:

“At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties.”

Marshall’s article goes into extensive detail of Trump’s connections to Russian oligarchs and politicians. He makes the case that Trump’s chumminess with Putin is not coincidental. Marshall’s documentation is thorough and somewhat frightening. And if anyone wonders why Putin would favor Trump, look no further than Trump’s recent denigration of NATO and his reluctance to honor the agreement. That would be a huge advantage for Putin whose expansionism would be made much easier if he didn’t have to worry about the U.S. defending its NATO allies.

Another Trump lie in the press conference was his assertion that “I never met Putin, I don’t know who he is. He said one nice thing about me.” It is true, of course, that Trump never met Putin (although he once claimed to know him very well because they both appeared on “60 Minutes” in separate interviews, thousands of miles apart). But what are we to make of his claim that he doesn’t know who Putin is? Folks, we are treading dangerously close to mental incapacity here.

Trump’s VP, Mike Pence, issued a statement that appeared to distance himself from Trump’s perfidy:

“If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.”

Pence might want to confirm that with his boss who is promising that the perpetrators would be rewarded mightily. And contrary to his suggestion that both parties will ensure that there are consequences, the Republican Party has yet to make any public statement repudiating Trump’s remarks or even the more general issue of the hacking of the DNC. Contrast that with the statements from the Democratic side including:

Hillary for America Senior Policy Advisor, Jake Sullivan: This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. […] This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta: “I find those kinds of statements to be totally outrageous because you’ve got now a presidential candidate who is in fact asking the Russians to engage in American politics. I just think that’s beyond the pale. […] I think that kind of statement only reflects the fact that he truly is not qualified to be president of the United States.”

It is incomprehensible that a candidate for the nation’s highest office is articulating activities that amount to aiding and abetting foreign enemies. Trump’s comments should be investigated by the FBI and his connections to Russian economic and political players should be thoroughly examined. As for Trump’s supporters, they need to reassess their allegiance to him, because if he can’t be trusted to act in the best interests of the nation, he surely should not get the vote of any patriotic American.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump Horribly Botched His VP Announcment – And Wants To Do The Same To America

Donald Trump’s pathetic rollout for his vice-president nominee, Mike Pence, could not have gone worse. It included uncontrollable leaks to the media, a canceled news conference that exhibited his weakness and indecision, an awkward announcement by tweet, and reports that he wanted to back out of the selection of Pence, but was told it was too late. Then there was a coup attempt in Turkey that totally shut #TrumpPence out of the news cycle. So how long before he says it was all a plot by Obama and/or Clinton to rig the system against him?


This morning Trump finally got around to making it official that Mike Pence would be his running mate. He ambled out onto the stage and took his place behind the podium. Then he spoke for nearly half an hour about – himself (surprise). When he eventually got around to Pence he confessed that “the primary reason” he chose Pence was because “he looks very good,” later switching to “party unity.” Neither of which are good reasons to put someone a heartbeat away from the presidency. He then assured his audience that “Mike Pence was my first choice.” Unfortunately, as noted above, Pence may not have been his last choice, but he was stuck with him.

The press was not particularly kind to Trump either. The general consensus was that he flopped in an epic fashion. His unfettered ego consumed the entire affair. Here are some examples of the reactions:

And all of this failure was focused on introducing a man who Trump would have eviscerated in any other circumstance. After all, Pence called Trump’s Muslim ban “offensive and unconstitutional.” He supported both NAFTA and TPP. He favored intervention in Libya to depose Gaddafi and praised Hillary Clinton for her efforts. He signed legislation to expand Medicaid in Indiana as part of ObamaCare. To Trump, all of these things were supposed to be evidence of the evils of the Obama administration and Clinton’s bad judgment. So either Clinton’s judgment wasn’t bad after all, or Trump just tapped someone whose judgment he despises as his running mate.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump is doing us all a favor by demonstrating so clearly why he should never be president. The selection of a VP is often referred to as the first important decision an aspiring president will make. If he can’t handle this competently, God help us if he had control over the nuclear codes (or the economy or the environment or foreign affairs or the Constitution). Donald is an existential threat to America and the world.

The Company You Keep: 13 Extreme Right-Wing Nuts Who Love Trump’s New VP Mike Pence

When Donald Trump canceled his news conference to announce Mike Pence as his VP pick he effectively handed the terrorists a victory by demonstrating with his cowardice that, under his “leadership,” they can have a profound impact on our democratic processes. Although it may have been more ego than cowardice as he didn’t want to compete with the tragedy in Nice for attention from the press.


However, now that his selection of a running mate is official it is revealing to observe the throngs of conservatives who regard Pence as a brilliant choice and the salvation for a candidate that many on the far-right never trusted. The rush to praise Pence was immediate, celebratory, and nearly unanimous. Here are just a few of the accolades that have been pouring in since the choice was confirmed:

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House: “Mike Pence comes from the heart of the conservative movement — and the heart of America. I can think of no better choice for our vice-presidential candidate.”

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union: “This is a great day for conservatism and great news for conservatives.”

David Macintosh of the Club for Growth: “Mike Pence would be an outstanding Vice-President.”

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Chairman Jenny Beth Martin: “Governor Mike Pence provides the opportunity to give GOP voters still undecided about Donald Trump a reason to unite and to vote for a more principled ticket.”

Brent Bozell, of the ultra-rightist Media Research Center: “Naming of Governor Mike Pence as his running mate is a homerun for Donald Trump.”

Penny Nance, president and CEO, Concerned Women for America: “This is an excellent choice by Donald Trump … will be a unifying factor and conservatives will be very supportive.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List: “An affirmation of the pro-life commitments he has made and will rally the pro-life grassroots.”

Mark Meckler co-founder of Tea Party Patriots: “An excellent selection”

Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and Senior Fellow of the Family Research Council: Trump “gets an A-plus for his first presidential decision.”

Michael Reagan, son of President Reagan: “Pence is a good choice for VP.”

Laura Ingraham, Fox News contributor and right-wing radio talk show host: “Trump/Pence does have a nice ring to it!”

Mark R. Levin, Right-wing radio talk show host: “Pence is an excellent choice”

Dana Loesch, host at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze and Special Advisor on Women’s Policy for the NRA: “IMO Pence as a VP pick is the best choice among the listed.”

If anyone thought that Mike Pence was a mainstream Republican who would be a moderating influence on the mercurial, hotheaded Trump, this parade of wingnut rapture should put an end to that delusion. Pence is an ultra-rightist who has a long record of supporting the most extreme conservative positions. He is a favorite of evangelicals and other social conservatives who oppose LGBT equality and a woman’s right to choose. He is among the science deniers who believe that climate change is a hoax. And he is a proponent of the hoax that cutting taxes for the wealthy will benefit the poor and middle-class.

There is, though, at least one notable skeptic of the Pence selection: Donald Trump. CNN’s Dana Bash is reporting today that Trump spent last night beseeching his aides for ways to get out of naming Pence. Apparently they couldn’t come up with a plausible escape route.

Perhaps Trump’s reticence stemmed from some of the serious disagreements on core policies that are certain to be brought up as the Trump/Pence campaign leaves the launching pad. For instance:


It’s too late now, Donnie. You are stuck with each other. At least you have some consolation knowing that you have the approval of the Neanderthal wing of the Republican Party. The Trump/Pence ticket will likely have all the success of the group that shares its “TP” acronym: Tea Party. Good luck with that.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Free Market Bigotry: Or How A Pizza Parlor Profits From Prejudice

The controversy over Indiana’s so-called “Religious Freedom” law, that effectively gives permission for businesses to discriminate against LGBT persons, continues to divide the state and the nation in much the same way as civil rights battles in the 1950’s and 60’s did. And despite attempts on the part of Gov. Mike Pence to deny that the bill allows legal discrimination, the truth keeps leaking out.

Over at Fox News the anchors and their guests are arguing non-stop that Christians must have the ability to turn away any customer who they decide conflicts with their faith (although they haven’t ever mentioned any objections to divorcees or fornicators or murderers). Even Fox host Tucker Carlson admitted that the law doesn’t “make any sense” if amended to prohibit discrimination. If the bill does not legalize discrimination, then how can an amendment prohibiting it mean that “the law has been completely gutted,” as Carlson said this morning on Fox & Friends?

What began as a side note to this story, however, has ballooned into a remarkably prominent and emblematic theme. Memories Pizza, a small restaurant in Walkerton, Indiana, told a local news reporter that they would refuse to provide service to a gay wedding. That expression of open bigotry resulted in an outcry of criticism from people who value civil rights. As a result, the proprietors of the pizzeria claimed that they had to close their doors for a couple of days.

That minor hardship inspired Dana Loeesh and others at Glenn Beck’s Internet site, TheBlaze, to come to the aid of the pizza vendors by posting a plea for help on the personal charity site, Astonishingly, donors pour in $842,387 in less than two days. In other words, the folks at Memories Pizza have turned a weekend off work into a windfall that exceeds what they would have made in more than a decade.

It is absurd to think that these confessed bigots deserve that kind of reward for their open expression of hate. And to put this further into context, the GoFundMe site links to other postings in the same region. The first five following Memories Pizza were all worthy causes for people suffering real hardships. But they have not received anywhere near the amount of support that the pizza vendors got for being hateful cretins. For example (see also graphic below)…

Scheidler Family House Fire Fund
At 1 am Sunday morning on March 29th, our friend, Nicole, had a house fire that caused extremely heavy damage. She is a mother of 5 young children, including a 2 month old baby, all while going to nursing school. Thankfully, they all made it out unharmed but the damage is significant. Their financial need for this is unknown as of right now but anything that we could do to help would be incredible.

Miguel’s Last Wish
Miguel is 26 years old and has two lovely kids. Out of nowhere, he complained of stomach pains and decided to go to the doctor. It was then when Miguel was diagnosed with terminal gastric cancer and was given 6 months to live. Doctors told Miguel that there was nothing to do but just wait for his time to come. Miguel is on his 6th month of having cancer and even though his condition has become very critical, he is still fighting for his life.

Justin Ehlers-Danlos Vascular Fund
My son Justin Burks is currently in critical condition on life support at the hospital due to a rare connective tissue disorder that he has. The name of this disorder is Ehlers-Danlos and he has the vascular one which is the worse one of them all. This disorder is attacking his organs; his intestines, colon, spleen, liver and lungs have all ruptured. He has made it out of three surgeries which is a blessing. If he lives through this we will need help with his medical cost and if he doesn’t we will use the funds towards his funeral.

Denny Needs A Liver Transplant
Denny has been diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a form of bile duct cancer. On June 28, I noticed that Denny was very jaundice. He had no other symptoms; he was just extremely yellow. After trips to the ER and local doctors, we found ourselves at a liver specialist at IU Hospital, Indianapolis. He ordered a CT scan which found a blockage in the bile duct, between the liver and the gall bladder.

Chad’s Eye Cancer Bill Fund
The doctors said I have a Choroidal Melanoma (a cancerous tumor) in my right eye. A 16x16x7.1 mm mass that is attached to my optic nerve. Dr. Demirci informed me that there was a treatment for this cancer. A radiation plaque would be placed on the tumor for five days, giving out a small dose of radiation that should kill the tumor… but it would also damage my optic nerve.

It’s sad to see that people with serious problems are struggling to keep their lives in order while bigots are getting rich off of their prejudice. It makes you wonder if the “memories” in their business name are of segregated lunch counters in Alabama. On the other hand, the stories on these other postings are inspiring due to their heartfelt gratitude for whatever generosity they receive. Feel free to show them some love.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Memories Pizza

Does Honesty Still Mean Anything To Fox News?

Fox News executives and defenders have been adamant that whatever bias exists at Fox, it is clearly delineated as opinion and is separate from what they regard as their hard news reporting. Never mind that even Fox admits that the majority or their schedule is opinionated and observers notice that much of that opinion seeps into their straight “news.” Further evidence of this seepage was apparent this morning on the Fox News web site. The image posted here was today’s featured story.

What this demonstrates is that it is getting harder to recognize the difference between Fox News and the Fox Nation (or for that matter, the Republican Party and the tea bagging, birther, secessionist, militias). The editorial pages of Fox are becoming indistinguishable from what they assert is news content. And while this has been obvious for some time on the air, it is expanding precipitously online.

The story referenced here is one that Fox is busily misrepresenting. They are portraying self-executing rules in Congress as illegal, unconstitutional, “Slaughterhouse” rules. But knowledgeable analysts are aware that these rules have been used many times by both parties. Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, had this to say on the subject:

“I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans and their acolytes at the Wall Street Journal, and on blogs, talk radio, and cable news. It reached a ridiculous level of misinformation and disinformation over the use of reconciliation, and now threatens to top that level over the projected use of a self-executing rule by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of ‘deem and pass.'”

The key falsehood that Fox and their Republican patrons are peddling is that there will not be a vote on health care. The truth is that there have already been votes in both houses of Congress and the bill passed by significant majorities (in the Senate by a super-majority). And there is still a vote to be held to invoke amendments to the bill that includes the self-executing language. So any member of Congress voting “aye” on this is transparently voting in favor of the health care bill. It is not clandestine in any respect, and it is not an absence of a vote.

Nevertheless, Fox, Republicans, and conservative pundits, are castigating this routine procedure as nothing short of treasonous. Rep. Mike Pence (the #3 Republican in the House), called the rule unconstitutional, but when it was pointed out to him that he had previously voted for such a rule at least three times, he said “Yeah, sure.” So either he misspoke and the rule is constitutional, or he previously voted for a rule that he knew was not constitutional.

Conservative talk show host, Mark Levin, has threatened to take the matter to court to reverse any measure passed via this procedure. Would that mean that every bill passed in this way by Republicans would also be repealed?

Fox News legal analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, made a nearly incoherent argument that the rule is unconstitutional but that the Supreme Court wouldn’t interfere with congressional discretion. This is a (former) judge who actually believes that the Supreme Court would let stand a law despite considering it to be a violation of the Constitution. That’s just plain nonsense. The court can issue rulings that are debatable, or even wrong, but they do not issue rulings that are contrary to what they believe.

Fox News, on the other hand, has no problem reporting things that they don’t believe. It is entirely implausible that the editors and reporters at Fox don’t know about the use of self-executing rules. Yet they misreport on them anyway. And now they even characterize them as being unconstitutional when they know that that isn’t the truth. And those false characterizations are posted on their news pages and are not differentiated as opinion. Which is why you have to wonder if honesty means anything to Fox News.

Republicans Look To Bush Losers For Advice On Winning

Republicans are already struggling to maintain some measure of relevance since the American people have banished them to the minority in both the House and the Senate, and evicted them from the White House. It is certainly understandable that, in their desperation, they would cast about plaintively, with arms outstretched, to grasp onto whomever might offer them aide in these dire days (weeks? years?). But in a move that can only compound their troubles, they are calling upon fellow castaways to lead them off of the island of the politically damned.

Politico is reporting that former Bush media staffers have been drafted to show House Republicans the way back into the hearts of American voters. The team consists of Bush press office alums, Dana Perino, Tony Fratto, and past RNC chief and Bush counselor, Ed Gillespie. Presumably they were deemed up to the task by virtue of how masterfully they molded Bush into the beloved figure he is today.

The Politico column reveals that House Republicans, on the advice of Conference Chair Mike Pence, are beefing up their media staffs. The stated goal of this strategy is to place more emphasis on press relations than on legislation. GOP flack Matt Lloyd is in full agreement with Pence, and hails this new initiative by saying that:

“The press secretary workshop is one more tool in our belt that we are using to ensure press secretaries continue to get their members the most coverage possible, which in turn drives the Republican message across the country.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. From the perspective of someone who is anxious to see the Republican minority shrink even further, nothing could more effectively produce that end than to “drive the Republican message across the country.” If the House PR machine wants to help “get their members the most coverage possible,” I would heartily encourage them. And they should start with getting more coverage for Michele Bachmann. Minority Leader John Boehner could use a little more exposure of his dynamic personality and spray-on tan, as well. And since we’re resurrecting Republicans of yore, throw in Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay.

You have to hand it to the GOP – they sure know how to cling to the anchors that have hastened their descent to the depths of political triviality.

Are Artists Real People?

Believe it or not, there are actually living relics of the Dark Ages who have the audacity to publicly wonder as to whether artists are real people. One of them is Georgia’s Republican Congressman Jack Kingston who, addressing what he felt were wasteful provisions of the stimulus bill, said the following:

“We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that’s going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous.”

Someone needs to tell Rep. Kingston that some of the real people who are out of work are artists, and that artists are more than the celebrities whose fame creates thousands of jobs. They are people who write textbooks as well as novels. They design ads for local businesses to help them to prosper. They create products in every industrial field, which puts other people to work manufacturing them. What’s more, some of those who are out of work are real people who have labored in jobs that support the arts like electricians, caterers, carpenters, truck drivers, seamstresses, ushers, janitors, printers, and accountants.

Arts = JobsKingston should surf over to the web site of, where he would learn that 5.7 million people are employed in the arts; that the arts occupy a $166 billion chunk of our economy; that the arts generate almost $30 billion in taxes.

Kingston might then be able to figure out that $50 million is a pretty cheap way of putting millions of real people to work and boosting local economies across the country. Then he could tell his pal Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) to stop asking stupid questions like this one:

“…what does $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts have to do with creating jobs in Indiana?”

The stimulus bill, as passed by the House, contained the NEA grant. In the Senate, however, it was removed by an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that lumped arts funding in with a bunch of other projects. The amendment passed 73-24 with the votes of some supposedly art-friendly members such as Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Bob Casey, and Russ Feingold. It stipulated that…

None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.

At this point I think it would be appropriate to note that Coburn’s daughter, Sarah, is a budding opera singer. She will be opening in November at the Los Angeles Opera playing in Handel’s “Tamerlano” opposite Placido Domingo. The LA Opera has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NEA over the years, but today, like so many arts enterprises, they are in dire straits. Domingo, the Opera’s general director, deferred his salary to reduce costs. Last month they announced that they would have to…

“…lay off 17 employees, stage fewer performances and reduce its operating budget by a quarter to cope with falling donations and reduced endowment income.”

For now, Tamerlano is still on the Opera’s calendar. But by November it may be a different story. I’m sure the Senator’s daughter/diva will be fine. I’m not so sure that the same can be said of the workers laid off by this facility, or hundreds of others – to say nothing of the related workers and small businesses that depend on these venues and other artistic enterprises. They number in the millions and, contrary to the insensitive blathering of Pence, Coburn, and Kingston, they are real people.

Update: Arts Recovery Funds Restored in Economic Stimulus Bill [Woo hoo]

A Stimulus Bill For The Arts

As the economy continues to wobble, and Americans face the bleakness of a looming depression, Washington is cobbling together a stimulus package designed to restore the economy and create jobs. The overwhelming majority of the $850 billion proposal is allocated to infrastructure spending and the rescue and reform of financial institutions and the manufacturing base.

Setting aside the merits of the bill as a whole, which reasonable people can debate, the political response to it is shaping up as just another partisan dogfight. Republicans are flailing away at anything they think they can disparage as wasteful, whether or not it actually is.

One example of this, that is close to my heart, is a $50 million grant to the National Endowment for the Arts. That amounts to about 0.006 of one percent of the total bill. That hasn’t stopped Republicans like Mike Pence from trying to use it to torpedo the whole package. But this minuscule appropriation actually has a valid purpose and can produce value that far exceeds its cost. While it’s easy for Dark Agists in Washington to target the arts for political gain, the truth is that art in our communities and schools is essential to both our economic and mental health.

In our efforts to get America working again, it should be remembered that artists are being hurt by the present economic slump along with everyone else. Perhaps more so, in that they are often the first to be cast off by belt-tightening employers and consumers. As such, they are no less deserving of a place in the recovery.

In the last depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration which, amongst other things, created work for 40,000 American artists. Those jobs resulted in projects that lifted the economic prospects of their communities by making them more livable and promoting trade and tourism. And they also contributed to a cultural Renaissance by documenting society’s pain, struggles, and victories. In addition there was an emphasis on arts education, which produced a generation of more well-rounded and literate citizens with an appreciation for the arts and the solace and inspiration they invoke.

Support for the arts is a critical part of our nation’s recovery and its character. It is what defines and preserves our history and our spirit. It propels us forward in good times and consoles us when hardships weigh us down. It is our essence, our connection to one another, to our ancestors, and to our heirs.

John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies is spearheading a campaign to advance government support for the arts. He is calling for more funding as well as a cabinet-level Secretary of Arts and Culture. The online petition for this movement already has over 4,600 signatures. You can add yours here: One Percent for the Arts

News Blights: January 8, 2009

Item 1: The host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews, has decided not to join the race for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. In doing so he has resisted a groundswell of support from hard-of-hearing misogynists throughout the state. Some reports suggested that Matthews was only floating the campaign as a means of enhancing his contract negotiations with MSNBC. If so, it worked for MSNBC, because Matthews will be re-signing for less than half of his previous salary.

Item 2: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, has been chosen by President-elect Barack Obama as the next Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and an effective communicator. He is also a shill for pharmaceutical corporations and a critic of universal healthcare. He famously debated Michael Moore on the Larry King Show about the accuracy of the movie Sicko. Now he will be Obama’s spokesperson on matters related to expanding healthcare to the 47 million Americans who are not presently covered.

Item 3: Congressman Mike Pence and Senator Jim DeMint have introduced bills in their respective bodies to prevent the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. The Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2009 has been expressly drafted to prevent something that no one has proposed. In fact, Obama has stated his opposition to re-imposition of the Doctrine. That hasn’t stopped right-wing fear mongers from firing off panicky op-eds and fund raising appeals.

Item 4: Sarah Palin, bless her heart, is still providing more chuckles per pound than any of her contemporaries. She sat down for an interview with a rabidly conservative activist who runs a web site dedicated to insulting Obama supporters. The discussion included a fair bit of whining about her treatment by the press, including her assertion that she wanted to ditch Katie Couric after the first round of talks, but McCain’s strongmen forced her back into the lioness’ den.