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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Blogger at the home of a Forgotten Man

By John Ruberry

Donald J. Trump’s presidential honeymoon with the media lasted sixteen minutes, which was, not coincidentally, the length of his inauguration address.

Since then, the media, with a few exceptions, has been relentlessly attacking the president, and by media, I’ll use the definition Rush Limbaugh gave this morning to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, which is ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today.

I’ll add one more–a big one, CNN, sometimes called the Clinton News Network.

The media is striking back with an assault on the presidency not seen since the height of the Watergate scandal.

And Donald Trump is fighting them–and the media can’t ascertain why much of the public, their public, is siding with the president.

Because conservatives don’t like cheaters.

Among the damning revelations from the John Podesta emails hacked by WikiLeaks was clear evidence of collusion by some of these allegedly neutral outlets during the 2016 presidential campaign, most notoriously when CNN analyst Donna Brazile twice supplied a planned question to the Hillary Clinton campaign prior to a CNN-hosted debate with Bernie Sanders.

Viewers of those two CNN debates were cheated by CNN, which employed Brazile, as they rightly expected the Clinton-Sanders matchups to be, let’s use a popular term from the time when several Chicago White Sox players conspired to throw the 1919 World Series, “on the square.” Sure, Brazile, was fired, but only after she was caught the second time feeding a debate question to the Clinton machine. That says a lot. Oh, where did Brazile learn of these questions? Did they come from a low-level CNN staffer?

Liberals, with the possible exception of the most ardent members of the growing socialist wing of the Democratic Party, dismissed Brazile’s cheating as just the way the game is played, which is not how White Sox fans greeted news of the 1919 fix broke a year later.

Before there was fake news there was a fake World Series.

Here is my conservative-or-liberal litmus test: If you were angry–or still are angry–about media collusion with the Democratic Party during the 2016 campaign, they you are a conservative. If you are not, they you’re a liberal. It’s that easy.

Which explains why the media, again using the definition I gave earlier, is astounded that Trump not only attacks them millions of Americans are cheering him on.

After dutifully reporting on media collusion immediately after it was revealed, the media promptly ignored the scandal–their scandal–which is not the case with Russian interference, and yes, alleged hacking of the election by Russia of the presidential election, whatever that entails. It probably entails nothing. WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, repeatedly insists that Russia was not the source of the hacked Podesta emails.

Okay, you skeptics out there, you are probably thinking to yourselves that I am citing only two examples of CNN collusion, and that done by an analyst, not a reporter.

Still still for a moment. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper, both of them anchors, the latter is the network’s Washington correspondent, were caught colluding by WikiLeaks. Other colluders captured in the WikiLeaks net were the New York Times and CNBC’s John Harwood, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, Glenn Thrush, then of Politico and now of the New York Times, and Brent Budowsky of The Hill.

When Trump said on the stump “the system is rigged,” the colluders proved him right.

The Forgotten Man and the Forgotten Woman, that is, the people who play by the rules and try to make an honest living under increasingly daunting odds, elected Trump, despite the rigging.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

And the cheating media still can’t figure out why most Americans despise them.

You Democratic cynics are probably still thinking, “Everyone does it.” No they don’t. Very few media outlets are conservative ones, so the opportunity simply isn’t there for Republicans to collude. The only instance of GOP collusion in a presidential campaign I can recall is George Will’s vague self-described “inappropriate” role in the 1980 Debategate micro-scandal.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

IMG_0306By John Ruberry

“What in hell do the experts know?” is something that Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley often said to his friends according to legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko. The experts often lampooned the last machine boss, but despite his flaws–which included prickly relations with the city’s rapidly expanding black population–he knew how to run a big city. Too bad his son–who also served as mayor–did not. When Old Man Daley died in 1976, Chicago enjoyed the highest credit rating from the nation’s top financial firms–which were based in New York. In the mid-1970s, NYC barely escaped bankruptcy.

Contemporary experts have been dismissing the presidential campaign of Donald Trump since he declared his run in June. After he remarked that John McCain is not a war hero–the experts in the media predicted The Donald would crawl off the political stage and die. He was supposed to do the same thing after he criticized the questioning from Fox News’ Megyn Kelly at the first GOP candidate debate earlier this month, adding that she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

This morning on CBS’ Face the Nation a panel of liberal columnists–experts to be sure–predicted the eventual demise of Trump’s campaign.

And it’s not just the libs who are skeptical of Trump–author and columnist George Will has been a harsh critic of the political novice and even National Review is condemning Trump. Red State’s Erick Erickson dis-invited Trump from his group’s gathering in Atlanta after the verbal attack on Kelly. These experts don’t see the tycoon as a viable Republican standard bearer.

But Trump’s poll numbers continue to rise. While he didn’t fill it up, the businessman held a rally in a Alabama football stadium two nights ago. Name another GOP presidential candidate who has the chutzpah to rent out an outdoor stadium for a rally.

In 2008 and 2012 the experts on the right said that conservatives needed to line up behind moderate candidates to win the White House. They were wroing

My thoughts return to Boss Daley: “What in hell do the experts know?”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Saturday night, my husband and I sat around a patio table having drinks and talking politics with friends. It’s not often that I’m dumbfounded into speechlessness, but there I was. One of the men in our group expressed his enthusiastic support of Donald Trump:

HE: Well, what do you think about Donald Trump?

ME: Ugh – he’s a buffoon and a false conservative!  I don’t think he’s serious about being president, he’s only in for the moment just to agitate.

HE: I like what he says! He’s got my vote!

ME: How can you tell what he says or means? He’s changed position on so many issues!

ANOTHER: He’s for gun control – that’s a deal breaker for me.

HE: Oh, I don’t care about gun control, I’m not all into guns.

This is the part where I started to gape.  Right now, Trump says he is against gun control but he’s also on record for supporting assault weapon bans and longer wait periods.  Overall, his position is inconsistent. My friend went on to explain that having a gun is so unnecessary because if someone was trying to attack me, the odds (“you’ve got to look at the percentages!” he exclaimed) of my being able to get to my gun to defend myself are very small.  “You almost never see reports of someone stopping their attacker with a gun,” he explained. I’m not sure where he gets his information, but it’s not the same place I do.

At this point I started to realize that argument was futile.

Others in the group suggested more staunchly conservative candidates perhaps might merit his attention, like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, or even Marco Rubio.  The man shrugged, tossed back his drink, and said, “Oh I don’t know much about Ted Cruz and I don’t really care to – Trump already has my vote.”  He repeated this several more times before I turned the conversation to the topic of cats, realizing that politics was a topic on which we would never agree.

This morning I woke up with the sad realization that my conservative vote might cancel out my daughter’s liberal one, but whose vote will cancel out the man in our group last night? And the man’s wife will only vote for whomever he tells her to, so … we may be doomed.

I’m scared that we have come to the point in our society where the general voter cares more about the Kardashians and Donny Loves Jenny than the future of our country. Trump is a buffoon, an entertainer, and a businessman. He says whatever he thinks you want to hear just so he can close the deal. He has no inner-core, no deep, soul searing beliefs in conservative theory.

Victor Davis Hanson:

The mystery among the political and media class is how quickly these disgruntled conservatives will be cleansed and get Trump out of their systems, and whether it will happen before he does other Republican candidates real damage. For now, it will take a bit more of the unfiltered Trump’s preposterousness and anti-PC bluster before his teed-off fans are finally pacified. Scorning or ridiculing Trump’s hypocrisies, narcissism, or outlandishness won’t silence him, much less win over his supporters. That will happen only when voters find a more savvy, more informed, more polite — but equally blunt and unafraid — version of Trump, perhaps a candidate like either Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Scott Walker, all of whom are more likely to channel unapologetic conservative anger rather than crudely amplify it.

Mr. Hanson is right on target but I don’t think the fellow in our group last night is necessarily a “disgruntled conservative” but is instead just looking for someone entertaining, like the people on his reality shows.

George Will’s column last week suggests that the Republican party should deal with Trump the same way that William F. Buckley dealt with the John Birch Society in 1962 – excommunicate him:

Indeed, a party has a duty to exclude interlopers, including cynical opportunists deranged by egotism. This is why closed primaries, although not obligatory, are defensible: Let party members make the choices that define the party and dispense its most precious possession, a presidential nomination. So, the Republican National Committee should immediately stipulate that subsequent Republican debates will be open to any and all — but only — candidates who pledge to support the party’s nominee.

Should that happen, you can be sure Trump will pick up his toys and go home. Would he bother to run as a third party then, and ensure Hillary’s coronation?  Of course he would.

There’s enough time for Trump to implode before things get too serious, but the concern is what damage will be done before then. How many more reality-voters and shallow thinkers will Trump win over before he’s done, and who will they turn to when he’s gone?

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Stills thursday 001As you might guess if you have watched any of the national coverage of this or any CPAC most of the attention goes to the big speeches from people like Paul Ryan.

This is only natural as these big speakers are folks who could be the standard bearers for the party in two years. How such a man move the crowd, how many of his supporters show up and how his speech compares to others generates a plethora of stories for the media in attendance.

)

So that means that both the audience and the press tends to hand on every word from say a Paul Ryan. Stills thursday 003 It also means that a fellow like Senator Tim Scott who while not in a position to lead the ticket in 2016 could both potentially be a VP candidate or could establish themselves with a big speech as someone to watch.

However while the big guns tend to get the majority of the press attention a lot of the a lot of action takes place in various panel both in the big ballroom and in side areas. These panel discussions cover many very interesting topics. I recorded part of one such panel featuring George Will of Fox & Senator Tom Coburn on overreach by the White House

)

The best part is that if you want to get a good shot of this kind of event, there isn’t a lot of competition from the rest of the press for shots like this

Stills thursday 006

this
Stills thursday 009

or this

Stills thursday 008

That can be very handy if you have an interest in a particular panel as we will see later on….

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Joe Biden wisely stated that the tea party is not a racist organization:

“I don’t believe, the president doesn’t believe that the Tea Party is — is a racist organization. I don’t believe that,” Biden said. “Very conservative. Very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization.”

But then he BS on the Washington business:

A black Congressman walking up the stairs of the Capitol,” he said, referring to alleged racist epithets said to an African-American Congressmen by alleged Tea Party members during the apogee of the debate over health care reform.

Doesn’t provide any evidence, just repeats it, no 100k for Joe. On the Round Table on ABC Clarence Page plays that card and George Will shot him down big bringing up the 100k. Page changes the subject, no 100k for him either.

But when Palin’s response was brought up, what was actually said wasn’t touched on, only the “why doesn’t she just say she condemns any racism in the tea party.” In other words accepting the Tea Party is “racist”.

Good thing we have that good republican Nicole Wallace on that Panel to back up Palin eh?

Maybe it would be a good idea to have someone who has actually attended a tea party rally and supports it during such a discussion. Has Dana Loesch and Breitbart fallen off the face of the earth?

Glenn describes Biden as throwing the NAACP under the bus. I wouldn’t go that far, but it does further beclown them despite the best efforts of the majority of the ABC panel to make them relevant.

No Memeorandum thread yet, I’ll keep an eye on it.

Update: Looks like Biden could have used the dough:

The Federal Election Commission has penalized Vice President Joe Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign $219,000 for accepting over-the-limit contributions and a discounted flight on a jet owned by a New York hedge fund. His campaign also was charged with sloppy record-keeping.

100k could help there.