Since the recent AP scandal, there has been a lot of talk about the importance of the press to be able to keep our government in check. Sure, the talk has been coming from the press themselves who don't like the fact that the Obama administration got a hold of the AP's phone records even if it was presumably for national security reasons. They are crying foul, saying that inhibits the freedom of the press to be the public's watchdog.
The problem is that the press have become big money making entities owned by or financed by advertising money from large corporations. Many of these corporations are far more powerful than our government and so we need an objective watchdog from them. But sadly, no dog (watch or not) will bite the hand that feeds them. Take for example the recent "March Against Monsanto." Over 200 million people in over 400 countries marched against the agricultural giant who has monopolized our food supply and convinced our government to exempt them from litigation should anyone be harmed from the genetically modified food products. Haven't heard about it? Most people haven't because the press ignored it almost completely with nary a news broadcast about it to be found. Then there's "Citizen Koch", a documentary about money in politics which was initially supposed to air as part of the PBS "Independent Lens" series. The film focuses on secret political spending by high-profile billionaires, like the Koch brothers, and how they are able to influence the political system through their concentrated wealth. However, the funding for "Citizen Koch" was removed in fear of offending billionaire David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television.
The censored or lack of coverage about important information is about as bad as all the disinformation you get in it's place from the ideologically driven press acting as a propaganda tool of the two political parties. So it's Press For Sale, be it to a large corporation or political party, you are getting information sanctioned by the highest bidder. Our only defense is to stay objective and always consider who's paying the source.
The bottom line is that the NRA is in business to protect gun and ammo manufacturing profits, not your rights. They exist to block any and all laws that might decrease sales, no matter what the cost. Otherwise, they would support laws that keep our children safe without affecting the average gun owner, like background checks and banning assault weapons. As a matter of fact they successfully lobbied congress to let the ban on assault weapons expire, the very kind that were used in Newtown. They also lobbied congress to make sure that federal medical research agencies are forbidden by law to finance studies that aim to reduce the harm from guns and made sure that federal agencies are forbidden to fund studies about the relative dangers & advantages of gun ownership.
They are consistently trying to shift the blame and conversation. For example, their friends at iowntheworld.com defaced my painting "Brought To You By The NRA" in photoshop to include a dead fetus and changed the blocks to spell NRAL, the pro-choice organization. It was just another obviously desperate and despicable attempt to change the subject.
Last year Americans accounted for nearly 90% of children killed by guns among the wealthiest nations. But the gun and ammo industry had record-breaking profits and that's what really matters to the NRA. The NRA has no interest in our children’s safety, but our government should. Congress should be protecting our children, not the gun lobby’s bottom line. Too many have already died.
Contact your representative and ask … How Many More?
Conservative Icon Defends My First Amendment Right and Together We Give a Lesson On Civil Discourse.
Last week was to say the least - surreal. My painting "The Truth" has once again created a media circus, drawing fire from the Religious Right demanding I remove it from display at Boston's Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery where it's currently part of the "Artists On The Stump - The Road To The White House 2012" exhibition. This kind of craziness is nothing new for me. The hysteria has happened before, when four years ago I announced I would debut the painting at New York City’s Union Square, Unfortunately, thousands of hate filled emails and threats of bussed in protestors convinced me to acquiesce to my family's wish that I cancel the exhibit for my own safety.
There was however, one thing that happed last week that I couldn't see coming in a million years. Through the firestorm of controversy over my painting the one person to come to my defense was the person I would least expect ... Glenn Beck, the Grand Jester of conservatism. We are, no doubt, the oddest of odd couples. My liberal leaning art generally outrages conservatives, and no one has drawn the ire of liberals more than Glenn Beck. Yet in his own grandiloquent way, the conservative rebel rouser devoted a show to defending this liberal artist's first amendment right. He also afforded me the opportunity on his show to air my thoughts and show my art. And then something even more surrealistic happened. After a little bit of a rough start, two people with diametrically opposed political perspectives, whose work might have helped fuel the country's divisive atmosphere, demonstrated that we can engage in respectful and civil discourse. It really shouldn't be considered significant, but in the current political environment it's an example that a lot of our elected and religious leaders, pundits and the American public in general would do well take notice of. It's one small step for civility, if not unity.
You might think it's hypocritical for two men whose work has helped raise blood pressures and spread the partisan condition to admonish people for suffering from it. Glenn took responsibility for his roles on the show suggesting in essence that he and I do what we do as a way to wake people up and get them involved in discussing the issues, and admitted that unfortunately it sometimes pushes the conversation to an ugly place.
Some say my painting is a destructive influence but if it was the impetus for the opportunity to show the world (or a least subscribers to Mr. Beck's program) that in the midst of all the hysteria, two politically opposing forces can come together to carry on a civil discourse, I say maybe something good came from my painting after all.
You can watch the complete interview on my Press page.
We've all been warned about the looming fiscal cliff. During the campaign, the Republicans would often point to a clock counting off to the moment of our economic apocalypse. That may be a bombastic way to hype a self-inflicted financial disaster. But it is true that if the Republicans and Democrats can't come to some sort of compromise by December 31, we will be in a economic pickle of no one's liking.
And there's that word - compromise. It's an important one. I even snuck it in the title of this blog. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated Democrats do it. Unfortunately, 95% of the Republicans in office have signed a pledge to a lobbyist named Grover not to compromise when it comes to raising taxes. That means not agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans if the top 2% don’t get to keep them. They'll tell you that it’s because without the lower tax rate, "job creators" won't be able to create jobs. It seems to me that the job creators created a lot more jobs without it under the Clinton administration than they have since. But the real reason is because if they renege on their pledge to the Great and Powerful Grover, he will not allocate any money to their next campaign. After all, they want to save jobs … their own. Unfortunately, that stubbornness has created the gridlock that has downgraded our economic status and stalled our recovery.
Since the election hasn't really gone their way, the GOP are beginning realize that the people aren't particularly fond of gridlock. As more people become aware of their subservient relationship with the lobbyist, some key Republicans are subtly starting to distance themselves from Grover. As an artist, I've tried to do my part to help that process along with my painting "Who The Hell Is Grover Norquist?" Do your part and pass it around. Let's convince the Republican leaders to lead instead of following a lobbyist like junkies to their dealer. It might put them in a more "compromising" position.
As seen on GlobalGrind http://globalgrind.com/news/lets-give-thanks-our-first-illegal-immigrants-michael-dantuono-blog
With Thanksgiving approaching, we all look forward to eating turkey as we celebrate the pilgrims’ first feast with the indigenous people of the land. As I dreamed of stuffing and cranberry sauce, it occurred to me that the pilgrims were actually this continents first group of immigrants. It may be somewhat hypocritical to admire the pilgrims yet resent current day immigrants when you consider that most of us wouldn’t be here today if the native Americans had asked to see our ancestors' documentation. I'm quite sure the irony doesn't begin to enter their minds of us patriotic “Americans” as we sit down to enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey. The ability to trace one's bloodline to a Mayflower passenger has always a major point of pride. Never mind that these people and their following generations eventually took their hosts lives and land, leaving the descendants of the few survivors nothing but a few casinos. We proudly celebrate our genocidal ancestors accomplishments. But hey, the stuffing and yams taste better when you don’t think about it too much. This hypocrisy was the inspiration for my painting (shown above) “Illegal Immigration”.
I’m not suggesting you put down that drumstick. There’s nothing we can do about the transgressions of the past, but maybe if didn’t sugarcoat our own heritage, we wouldn’t feel so self-righteous when considering immigration reform. Maybe it’s our own past that scares us. Maybe we’re afraid that the current immigrants will do to us what we did to the Indians. Could those undocumented workers watching our kids, and doing our lawns be planning to take back California and New Mexico?
So as you sit down to your turkey this year, take a moment to consider the current crop of immigrants, just looking for a better life like the pilgrims had. Be thankful that your ancestors were given that opportunity and be humbled by how they approached it.