NewsBusters Columns

Rocco Landesman is the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and boy, does he know how to spin the official line on offensive art. In a recent interview in Cincinnati, he was asked vaguely about controversy. “The best art taps into deep feelings, sometimes to comfort and sometimes to confront. Art can be very uncomfortable,” Landesman said. “What can lead to strong reactions -- for some of us, it draws us into the arts over our lifetimes and careers. For others, it creates strong negative feelings.”

Landesman wasn't being asked specifically about negative feelings over the Loveland Gallery in Loveland, Colorado, a taxpayer-funded art space which recently featured a controversial painting with Jesus Christ receiving oral sex from a man. He's certainly not used to critical questions about just how this blasphemy-by-numbers seems like a tiresome rerun: Jesus in urine, Jesus in chocolate, Jesus in (homo)sexual ecstasy.



In the wake of commentator Juan Williams' feckless firing by National Public Radio, supporters on the Internet sounded a cheeky rallying cry: "Free Juan!" But Williams has now been liberated from the government-funded media's politically correct shackles. It's taxpayers who need to be untethered from NPR and other state-sponsored public broadcasting.

Public radio and public television are funded with your money to the tune of some $400 million in direct federal handouts and tax deductions for contributions made by individual viewers, not to mention untold state grants and subsidies. Supporters argue that this amounts to a tiny portion of state-sponsored media's overall budget, and an even tinier portion of the overall federal budget.

If it's so negligible, why do NPR's government-subsidized "journalists" cling so bitterly to the subsidies? Leverage. The government imprimatur gives NPR and PBS a competitive edge, favoritism with lawmakers and the phony appearance of being above the fray.

 



The Democrats are about to be beaten by something that they do not in their heart of hearts think exists, a huge national majority. At this late hour, with the storm clouds gathering and the livestock getting restless, they see only sunshine. Yes, there is "foreign money" out there. Yes, the media have bungled broadcasting the purity of the Democratic message. And naturally, angry voices can be heard. Yet surely there is no majority gathering to unseat the party of decency and good deeds. Well, there is, and it is nothing like how the Democrats describe it.

That majority is amiable and sensible and believes in limited government. It is convinced that we face a catastrophic budget crisis and that measures must be taken against the spending and on behalf of growth. Furthermore, many of these friendly Americans would be delighted to give our president a ride home if they found him on a street corner, though they would be a lot happier if he did not live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. They doubt he would ask them in for a drink. After all, to him they do not exist.

Many of these people are tea partyers. Now, they certainly do exist. Yet they are nothing like what the Democrats believe them to be. They are not angry and warlike. They are concerned about what the Democrats have done these past months, but they will retire them the old-fashioned way, through the ballot box.



In 2011, the two major legislative initiatives of the tea party Congress (pray the voters deliver such a congress) will be to get a grip on the deficit, and to begin to reverse the intrusion of the federal government in American lives and business.

It remains to be seen whether Congress will have the guts — and even the tea party public will give their support-for the entitlement cutting that deficit control and long-term fiscal soundness will require.

Procedurally, however, the method is pretty straightforward. Congress passes a 10-year budget resolution, then passes appropriations and other bills to carry out those objectives. And, of course, the president has to sign them into law. That may result in the greatest Washington political battle since slavery, but at least the legislative method is obvious and straightforward.



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally appeared in a debate on October 14 in Las Vegas with his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle. The appearance might come as a surprise to consumers of the national media. While Angle has been pounded relentlessly by national media outlets as being both dangerously radical and ridiculous, Reid has been left alone, and untouched.

But what about Harry? He’s the Majority Leader after all. Is he, like so many of his colleagues, simply afraid to talk about his legislative “accomplishments”? Nobody’s wondered why he hasn’t been making the rounds of interviews on national television. While reporters rush to report the latest “wacky” quote from Angle, the networks haven’t lifted a finger to cover Reid’s cascade of rhetorical stumbles and outrages, especially since Angle won the GOP primary.

We won’t count Reid’s remarks last year comparing opponents of health reform to supporters of slavery, or his describing those opponents as “evilmongers,” which he delighted in repeating and telling reporters he’d coined a new word.

There’s a list of fresh gaffes, and it just keeps growing.



The White House's wish almost came true last week. It was hoping most of us and even the mainstream media would miss the release of the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary report on the 2010 federal fiscal year. And most did.

The Wall Street Journal, however, exposed why the White House was being so secretive about its results: The CBO concluded that federal government spending has skyrocketed 21.4 percent in just the past two years since President Barack Obama took office!

The White House's actions remind me of President Ronald Reagan's words: "We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors. It would be unfair because the sailors are spending their own money."

It's no new revelation that Washington has lost its way from our Founders' vision and fiscal frugality. But in the past two years, it has become a financial runaway train. And it is only we the people who can save it from completely derailing our country and all of us on board.



You know Lee Greenwood: He's the country-music star who hit patriotic pay dirt with his 1980s hit song "God Bless the U.S.A."

Joe Miller, the Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska, looks much like Greenwood, to the point that he could easily be mistaken for the singer if he ever strolled through Nashville. And, listening to Miller speak, you hear echoes of Greenwood's famous tune. The tea party may not be looking for a single spokesman or leader, but in Joe Miller it has its personification: an outsider, a constitutionalist and someone who's thoroughly fed up with the political system's disrespect for the common man.

If I brought Greenwood up to Miller, he wouldn't wax nostalgic about the '80s, or assess the fine pleasures of a Hannity Freedom Concert. Miller would probably want to know why I spent three sentences talking about anything other than policy solutions. There's no shooting the breeze with Joe Miller. When he recently dropped by National Review's Capitol Hill office, the Alaskan was, in the words of my colleague Bob Costa, "cool as ice."
Miller's coolness is refreshing in such hot political times. A former U.S. Army officer who earned a Bronze Star in the first Gulf War, Miller gives the impression of great seriousness. He's a man on a mission.



The White House attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn't about "disclosure." It's about disarmament. While posing as campaign finance champions, the ultimate goal of the Democratic offensive is to intimidate conservative donors, chill political free speech and drain Republican coffers.

Chamber of Commerce official Bruce Josten tried to educate the public. "(W)e know what the purpose here is," he told ABC News. "It's to harass and intimidate." Josten cited protests and threats against chamber members as retribution for ads the organization ran opposing the federal health care takeover.

But this isn't the first time liberal bullyboys have targeted right-leaning contributors. Far from it.

In August 2008, a former Washington director of MoveOn.org — the smear merchant group that branded Gen. David Petraeus a traitor for overseeing the successful troop surge in Iraq — announced a brazen witch hunt against Republican donors. Left-wing political operative Tom Matzzie told The New York Times he would send "warning" letters to 10,000 top GOP givers "hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions." Matzzie bragged of "going for the jugular" and said the warning letter would be just the first step, "alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives."



Why does it seem at times that our government and “public health” advocates think parents are a social problem? Parents at Hardy Middle School in the affluent Glover Park neighborhood in Washington, DC were shocked to discover that a sex-and-drug-use survey had been distributed to 12-year-olds in their physical education classes without any warnings or consent forms sent to parents.

The first words the children read were these: “This questionnaire asks you about sex and drugs (like cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, and marijuana).” Of course, they promised, “Your answers will not be told to anyone in your school or family.”

The mindset of these popsicle psychiatrists was evident right off the bat. The very first question was “What is your gender?” Two possibilities, you think? Try four boxes: Male and female, plus – “transgender (M to F)” and “transgender (F to M).” This was handed out to 12-year-olds.



It is interesting and disappointing that so many politicians treat "faith" — at least the Christian faith — as a poison pill they cannot touch, much less swallow. Republicans often run from it because of PC intimidation, and Democrats because it's in their DNA to do so.