John “Lee” Ruberry of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven.

By John Ruberry

Last week President Trump released his proposed fiscal 2018 budget. Not included in it was funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The left, which dominates the arts, responded predictably, acting as if art itself was being attacked.

Sit down and breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Now relax. If the NEA and the NEH disappear–there will still be art. Even after eight years of economic dormancy under Barack Obama, the United States is still a fabulously wealthy nation with plenty of disposable income, some of which will of course be spent on the arts.

Do you feel better now? Good. I knew you would.

Art is everywhere. In fact it’s right in front of you now–my post at Da Tech Guy and all of the others here are artistic endeavors, albeit not funded by the federal government.

Yes, the NEA and the NEH, as far as I know, no longer funds exhibitions of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs showing genitalia of pre-pubescent girls or a display of Piss Christ, but this Great Society mutation of royal patronage of the arts–didn’t we fight a revolution against a king?–makes little cultural or economic sense, as George Will explains.

David Marcus, artistic director of a Brooklyn-based theater project and senior contributor to The Federalist, says the NEA produces “perverse market incentives” that explain why many arts institutions “are failing badly at reaching new audiences, and losing ground.”

“Many theater companies, even the country’s most ‘successful,’ get barely 50 percent of their revenue from ticket sales. Much of the rest comes from tax-deductible donations and direct government grants. This means that the real way to succeed as an arts organization is not to create a product that attracts new audiences, but to create a product that pleases those who dole out the free cash. The industry received more free money than it did a decade ago, and has fewer attendees.”

The arts community is incestuous, especially within its foundations and boardrooms. You scratch my Cubist back and I’ll massage your western yodeling feet. You’ve heard of crony capitalism. There is also crony arts.

As usual, I don’t have to look beyond my own grossly mismanaged state of Illinois–when we had budgets they made about as much sense as a Jackson Pollock painting–to find an example of cronyism in practice. The Illinois Arts Council Agency, which as you can tell by its name, is a state agency and it is a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts cash. It was founded in 1965, which not coincidentally, was when the NEA began. The chair of the Illinois Arts Council Agency is Shirley Madigan, the wife of state House Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party Boss Michael Madigan. Their daughter is Lisa Madigan, Illinois’ attorney general.

The Illinois Arts Council Agency boasts that nearly 100 percent of the state’s legislative districts receives some IACA funding. It’s all about spreading the wealth around. As for those legislative districts, the geographic contortion created by Michael Madigan’s gerrymandering just might be worthy enough to be put on display at the Art Institute of Chicago adjacent to those Pollock-esque state budgets, but that’s another matter.

The NEA and the NEH also operates under the same spread-the-favors-around–I mean wealth, mindset–which is why defenders of these groups cite federal funding for events such as the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada and the Hip Hop Initiative in North Carolina as justification for these agencies.

Blogger on a self-funded trip to the Vicksburg battlefield

The NEH provided funding for Ken Burns’ acclaimed 1990 Civil War documentary that was broadcast on PBS, which is another success boasted by supporters of the NEH. Oh, Trump’s budget wants to eliminate for that network as well as NPR. Have you seen Burns’ Civil War? It’s fabulous. But what of the money for sales of Ken Burns’ Civil War book, or the Civil War DVDs and CDs? Or Civil War digital downloads? How much does the federal government get from those sales?

How much does Ken Burns collect?

Sure, NEA and NEH funding is a very small piece of federal spending–$148 million is the expenditure for this year. But proper budgeting means saying “No” a lot. America is wealthy–but not infinitely so.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.

Richard Feynman

Building on DaTechGuy’s Theory of Media Outrage and following the rules of experimentation as defined by Feynman let’s examine how a story like this one

Veteran Democratic operative Donna Brazile finally admitted that she used her former position as a CNN commentator to relay questions ahead of debates to Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary.

For months, Brazile has avoided confirming that hacked emails from the campaign showed her forwarding the questions, which were asked at separate debates. But in a new essay for Time magazine looking back on the hackings, she said it was true.

..fits my theory which states

The level of Outrage or interest of the media and their allies of on the left concerning any insult or prevarication concerning person or thing will routinely be equal to the inverse of the degree of the political distance between said media / leftists and and the target of said insult or prevarication at the time it is made.

This story is tailor made for our experiment because it is actually two separate stories separated by five months

  1. Donna Brazile admits that she relayed questions to the Hillary Campaign meaning her previous denials were a lie (today’s story)
  2. Donna Brazile denies that she relayed questions to the Hillary Campaign meaning the accusations against her were a lie (October’s story)

Since the distance between Donna Brazile and the MSM/left is non existent (as she was intern DNC head, a campaign manager for a Democrat campaign and a commentator defending the left for year) and the target of her prevarications were the people on the right who made the claims, let’s apply our standard.  If my theory is correct then the story of her admitting guilt, meaning she was a liar) should have produced little or no MSM coverage.

So I did a google search of “Donna Brazile admits giving Hillary” and here is a screen shot of the results

You will note that none of the results shows a mainstream media source. No ABC,NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, PBS, NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN etc etc etc… Even if you click on the view all the only results shows are from the sources in this image.  Thus when the target of the story was a Democrat close to the MSM/Left the media coverage/outrage was non existent in keeping with my theory.

Thus the evidence fails to disprove the theory, so it can stand, but what about the initial story?  Her initial denials of passing on the questions to the Hillary Campaign?  We need to measure how that was covered too.

So I did a 2nd search substituting the word “denies” for “admits” here are the results

As to be expected the articles concerning her admission already showed by the first search are there as they are most recent but nothing turns up from the MSM as before but you note as we get to October the sources linked are all MSM US News and World Report, Politico, CNNMoney and Business insider.  Moreover you will note that Politico and Business Insider both MSM sources are not just listed, but are “highly cited” meaning that other lesser sources used them as the bases for their own articles.

So let’s apply this experimental data to our theory which states:

The level of Outrage or interest of the media and their allies of on the left concerning any insult or prevarication concerning person or thing will routinely be equal to the inverse of the degree of the political distance between said media / leftists and the target of said insult or prevarication at the time it is made.

In the earlier story the pieces were framed in such a way exactly the opposite.  In these stories the assumption was made that the GOP/right were prevaricating and that Donna Brazile was the target of said prevarication.

The Distance between Donna Brazile and the MSM/leftists is tiny or non-existent so if our theory is correct the MSM outrage and/or interest should have been great.  And so it was.

Thus per Feynman’s rule, the theory continues to stand. I’m sure all my readers are duly shocked.


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