Events and E-Vents http://artandresponse.com/blog.php Ranting en-us The Hypocrisy Of Ebay http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=34

Two things happened on bay Saturday, Dec 21. The art auction of George Zimmerman, renowned killer of Trayvon Martin, came to it's natural close, rewarding the rookie artist with $100,000. On the very same day, ebay decided to remove artist Michael D'Antuono's painting that was inspired by the Zimmerman case and benefiting the organization founded in the name of Zimmerman''s victim.

Meant to to symbolize the travesty of racially profiling innocent children and the affect prejudice has on policy, D'Antuono's painting depicts a KKK hooded policeman pointing a gun at a little black boy in a white hoodie as he offers the officer some of his candy. In shutting down D'Antuono's auction, ebay cited their policy of foreboding  "Relics from the Ku Klux Klan or anything that bears the KKK symbol."  Looking on ebay's site I found 1,569 other items related to the KKK and mostly bearing their symbol.

Ebay's policy violation alert read "Hateful or Discriminatory." I hate to say it, but the only discrimination seems to be on ebay's part. They discriminated against an artist speaking out against racism who was willing to donate half of the proceeds to The Trayvon Martin Foundation. A charity that is dedicated to advocating for crime victims, increase public awareness of all forms of racial ethnic and gender profiling educate youth on conflict resolution techniques and to reduce the incidences where confrontations between strangers turn deadly.

News of this double standard is starting to go viral.I have read several posts vowing never to use ebay again. I hope ebay is big enough to reconsider their decisions and discuss with the artist how the painting might be re-listed.

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Mon, 23 Dec 2013 19:33:16 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=34
Ebay Yanks Art Auctioned To Benefit Trayvon Martin Foundation ... http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=33 ...Yet They Allow George Zimmerman To Profit From Murder

As if getting away with murder wasn't enough, Remorseless George  found a way to capitalize on his ill-gained celebrity by auctioning his "patriotic" painting on ebay. Even more astonishing, he found some well-heeled racist to pay $100,000 for it. The killer artist might not have paid for his crime, but he sure knows how to make crime pay.

On the same day that George Zimmerman closed his ebay auction of his painting for over $100,000, the online auctioneers removed my anti-racism painting inspired by the Zimmerman case, "A Tale Of Two Hoodies" for being "hateful or discriminatory."  While Zimmerman was allowed to capitalize on his  ill-gotten notoriety, I was denied the opportunity to raise funds to help the very foundation named in honor of Zimmerman's victim.

The painting in question was completed shortly after the Trayvon Martin murder. it was meant to symbolize the travesty of racially profiling innocent children and the affect prejudice has on policy. The bidding was gaining momentum quickly passing the $25,000 mark on day two of a scheduled seven day auction when bay decided to pull the plug.  I feel ebay failed to see the forest from the trees on this one. In my opinion, any policy that allows a murderer to profit from his crime, but deems art that speaks out against racial injustice and benefits it's victims 'hateful and discriminatory' needs to be reevaluated.

In light of recent developments, interested parties can send bids for the piece directly to me at Michael@ArtandResponse.com. Once the reserve is met, I will donate half of the proceeds to The Trayvon Martin Foundation.

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Sun, 22 Dec 2013 10:12:03 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=33
The Art Of Voter Suppression (The Real Voter Fraud) http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=31 Voter suppression laws are meant to "kick the Democrats in the butt.” revealed Don Yelton, precinct chair in the Buncombe County, North Carolina Republican Party last week on the Daily Show, “if it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.” 

Just trying to read between the lines, but it seems to me like if you are a minority, the Republican Party really rather you didn’t vote. Not so much because of the color of your skin. It’s more because statistically, you’re likely to vote for a Democrat. 

Under the guise of "voter fraud," a problem that was never proven to exist, Republican operatives have done everything they can to restrict those who might vote against them. Less than two hours after the conservative Supreme Court struck down the voting rights act of 1965, allowing certain southern states with a history of discrimination to once again create barriers for racial minority voters, Texas led the rush to take advantage of their new found freedom by limiting the acceptable forms of identification, ending opportunities for student voting and reducing hours for early voting. Many Republican-led states have followed suit.

It is sad that after many years of sacrifice and progress, we, as a country are in some ways regressing back to the dark days in our history of racial discrimination. As an artist dedicated to creating works that challenge people to think more deeply about sociopolitical issues, I was inspired to paint  "Voter Fraud." I hope this piece can in some small way inspire positive change. There must be vigilance in overcoming the hurdles that would restrict the basic rights so many have sacrificed so much to attain. Don’t get mad, get a photo ID and vote out those who would try to take away those rights.

 
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Fri, 01 Nov 2013 09:05:05 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=31
AMERICA'S LAST TRUE FOLK HERO http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=30  

In this day and age of self- aggrandizing pop stars, It is hard for today's generation to imagine that there ever existed a selfless singer of song who's only concern was the causes he sang about and not his celebrity.

Well there was, and still exists a man of such integrity. Our last living American folk hero, Pete Seeger. A champion of the disenfranchised since the 1940's, Pete has been railing against war, pollution, racism, greed, and social injustice for eight decades. He bravely risked a 10 year prison sentence for defying Senator Joe McCarthy's witch hunt  in the 50's and popularized the civil rights anthem and "We Shall Overcome" for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's historic march in the 60's. His anti-war song "Knee Deep in the Big Muddy" became a force in ending the Vietnam War. He founded the Clearwater organization which continues to clean up the Hudson River. Ninety four and still fighting the good fight, he recently performed at the farm aide concert, leading Willie Nelson, Dave Mathews, Neil Young in song against fracking. 

It's because he sings for things like justice and the environment and not for record sales that he is so admired. Besides being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and winning a Grammy at 90, he has been bestowed with the National Medal of Arts and  a Kennedy Center Honor. He was chosen to sing at President Obama's historic first inauguration.Bruce Springsteen devoted an entire album of Pete's songs.  As an artist who's known for creating work that challenges people to think more deeply about many of the same issues Pete sings about, he is certainly an inspiration to me personally. That's why I recently took time off from my sociopolitical paintings to create the portrait of Pete titled "Beacon Of Hope" that hangs at the Towne Crier Cafe in Pete's (and my) hometown of Beacon, NY, where the locals cherish their own national treasure. 

There is currently a greatly deserved petition to nominate him for the Nobel Prize.

Somehow I don't think Kanye West will ever get nominated for a Nobel Prize, unless he nominates himself. What makes Pete so special is that he doesn't really care about all these honors, he only cares about the making the world a fairer place for generations and trying to preserve it for future ones. 

 

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Tue, 08 Oct 2013 13:26:13 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=30
Newtown Six Months Later – Shame On Us http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=29

 

It's been over 6 months since the Newtown massacre and we’ve done absolutely nothing to prevent the next one. Shame on the gun and ammo manufactures. Shame on the NRA, and shame on our elected leaders who take their money. It saddens me that we live in a society that accepts a government that protects the profits of a few over the lives of many innocent citizens. The fact that the NRA was able to buy enough senators to usurp the will of 90% of the American people when it came to expanded background checks means that we’ve lost our democracy as well as innocent lives.

I’m an artist not a blogger, so I made my point and vented my frustrations in my paintings. I hope they get shared enough to embarrass our elected leaders into finally doing the right thing. If we are vigilant enough, perhaps the next six months will be more fruitful than the last.

 

 
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Sun, 07 Jul 2013 09:40:32 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=29
Press For Sale http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=28 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.

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Mon, 03 Jun 2013 07:39:44 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=28
THE NRA: PUTTING THEIR PROFITS AHEAD OF YOUR CHILDREN http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=27  

 

 

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?

 

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 16:54:06 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=27
Glenn Beck - The Voice Of Reason? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=26

 

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.

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Thu, 06 Dec 2012 10:28:14 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=26
Has Grover Norquist Put The GOP In An "Uncompromising" Position? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=25

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.

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Sun, 25 Nov 2012 08:20:13 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=25
LET'S GIVE THANKS TO OUR FIRST "ILLEGAL" IMMIGRANTS http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=24  

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.

 

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Sat, 17 Nov 2012 11:55:55 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=24
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JOHN McCAIN? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=23  

An Open Letter To The Former Maverick

Dear John,

You have been a true American war hero, a maverick and a respected senator. That's a lifetime of achievements any mothers' son would be proud of. I always hoped you would someday run for President … until you did. You kinda lost me at Sarah Palin. But even then, the maverick briefly reappeared during a Presidential debate when you meritoriously corrected a woman who basically confused Obama with Osama.

Unfortunately, that was the last we ever saw of the old maverick. The reach across the aisle McCain was sadly, forever after replaced by crotchety partisan McCain. I always thought you learned your lesson after Bush defeated you in the 2000 primaries and were just acting like Rush Limbaugh's unreasonable twin to get elected in 2008. Well John, that election and the one after that one are over. President Obama beat you fair and square. He beat Mitt fair and square. It's been eight years. You have to let it go.

Like I said, I've always admired you, which is what makes me so sad seeing you devolve into such a petty partisan. Your recent attack on Ambassador Rice and calling for Watergate-type hearings regarding the Benghazi incident is over the top and beneath the man you once were. You're starting to make Michelle Bachman look sane by comparison. It's time to stop the grumpy old man act, pick up your remote and shut off FOX. It seems like your actually buying the snake oil their selling. I expect the uncivil arrogance of crazy conspiracy theories and party above country agendas from insipid right-wing mean girls like Palin and Bachman, but not from someone who once stood so tall above it all. Sadly, the maverick has been broken. It's time for the man who once reached across the aisle to create campaign finance reform to stop tarnishing your credibility and reputation with these partisan attacks or quietly go off to pasture. If you won’t do it for the country, do it for your own legacy.

Signed,

A former fan

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Thu, 15 Nov 2012 09:05:41 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=23
OBAMA CARE(S) http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=22

The President Could Win With Just These Two Words

Apparently the old ad man in me still works in my sleep because after watching the President's speech at the Democratic Convention last night, I woke up with my own campaign slogan for Barack that succinctly nails the fundamental difference between the two camps in just two words … "OBAMA CARES". The Republicans tried to turn the Affordable Health Care Act into something negative by derisively coining it "Obama Care." All the President’s people have to do is add one simple 'S' to turn it back into a positive and powerful umbrella campaign. I can see it as a bumper sticker or as a call and response in a speech. It would go something like this:

"The difference between the President and the Republicans when it comes to affordable healthcare for all is … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to the environment … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to protecting women's rights … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to your right to love whom you choose … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to protecting senior's entitlements … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to our veterans … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to improving students' education … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to protecting the middle class … OBAMA CARES!

When it comes to you … OBAMA CARES!"

Does my slogan imply that the Republicans don't care as much? Yes, but it's subtle. More subtle than their own party platform which reduces the rights and increases the burdens of the majority in no uncertain terms.

So, Obama campaign manager listen to me. It's time for a quick change. Start printing the posters and bumper stickers. I hope you are listening … because I care.

 

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Fri, 07 Sep 2012 10:17:26 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=22
Putting Out A Contract On Public Employees http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=21 The nation, along with many states and local municipalities are burdened with overwhelming debt. Like a company that's about to file for bankruptcy, they can't afford to honor their contractual obligations and make payroll. How did this happen? Who's responsible? I'm told it's the government workers. They 're bleeding us dry so let's bust the unions and do away with collective bargaining. Let's take away their pensions! After all, why should my hard earned tax money go to give them better benefits than my boss is giving me these days?

While the anger is understandable, it is somewhat misdirected. I can assure you that the governments' seemingly insurmountable fiscal deficits have been caused more by politicians corrupted by the corporate elite, than the common folk who educate your children, put out your fires and keep you safe. A teacher's average salary is many times less than the average bonus for a Wall Street trader. Don’t believe me? If you can get past the gates of the richest neighborhood you can find, check out the teacher to Wall Street fat cat ratio. And let's not forget, a teacher greatly shapes your child's development, whereas a broker dumps dubious derivatives and toxic assets on unsuspecting clients. "Yeah, well" you say, "I don't pay the broker, but my taxes go to that teacher's salary."  I was hoping you'd say that.  I have one word for you – bailouts.  That’s right, much of the eight hundred billion dollars worth of your tax money went to bonuses for the very people who got us into this financial mess we are trying to deal with. Instead the government should have put them in prison or confiscated their assets. Their assets would cover a lot of debt, but instead our government chose to cover their asse(t)s. So if you want to get angry, direct it at those people. If you work for a large corporation and your retirement package has been greatly reduced or taken away completely, be angry at them. They are in breach of contract. When you agreed to sign up with them all those years ago, it was with the understanding that after a certain amount of years of you paying into your retirement fund, you would be paid certain benefits. If they can't give you back the last 30 years of your life, they should be legally and morally bound to honor their original agreement. It should make you even madder to know that the bigwig who made the decision to cut your benefits was given a big bonus for saving the company money by screwing you and your co-workers.

Now you want to go and do the same thing to the government workers who serve you everyday. Don’t do onto others as was done onto you. Two wrongs don't make a right. Instead, let's start reducing the deficits by first making those at the top who have profited by manipulating the system pay back into it what they have taken from us.

On second thought, don't get mad … get even.

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Tue, 03 Jul 2012 14:40:00 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=21
IS STEPHEN COLBERT UNBALANCED? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=20 That is the question a number of people are asking since he has not as yet given equal time to the progressive leaning artist Michael D'Antuono after devoting over five minutes of air time to conservative artist Jon McNaughton on The Colbert Report. Okay, full disclosure, the progressive leaning artist is me and the people asking are mainly family members.

The artist's (me) campaign demanding equal time was kicked off with an entertaining YouTube video goo.gl/fLiLV  featuring an eclectic mix of characters calling on Colbert to be fair.

You can better serve Democracy (and take the "starving" out of starving artist) by posting the video on Colbert's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thecolbertreport or Tweet him ‪@ColbertReport to demand Colbert give D'Antuono (again, me) equal time. Do it for the children (my children).

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Fri, 15 Jun 2012 13:55:09 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=20
LET"S CUT TO THE (JPMORGAN) CHASE http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=19 EVENT

JPMorgan Chase acknowledges $2 billion trading loss

JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, said Thursday that it lost $2 billion in the past six weeks in a trading portfolio designed to hedge against risks the company takes with its own money. The exotic financial investments got the world in trouble in 2008. The question a lot of people are asking now, did JPMorgan Chase learn nothing?

VENT

I know the answer to that one. JP Morgan Chase learned a lot from the 2008 debacle. They learned that unlike the rest of us, if they gamble on irresponsible investments, the rest of us (taxpayers) will give them trillions of interest free dollars. They learnt that they can pull off the biggest heist in history and not go to jail. They may even be given a top position guarding our financial henhouse. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, currently sits on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Ironically, that's the very organization that is supposed to oversee his bank’s financial practices, the organization that is supposed to issue all sorts of regulations that control what his bank can do. nothing has It's also the very organization he has been lobbying to relax the rules about the bets he wants to make. What do you do with a guy like Dimon? In 2008 when high rollers like him nearly collapsed the economy, we were told we had to "keep the talent." Yet we insist on cutbacks and performance based pay for teachers. Apparently, those greedy characters who educate our children and brown bag it everyday are the real drag on our economy. It seems to me that two billion dollars could hire quite a few teachers. Dimon called the trades his bank made "flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored", but hey that's the kind of talent we just can't afford to lose.

This episode should be a red flag that four years after the 2008 meltdown the problem has not been fixed. As a matter of fact the problem has become worse. Remember "Too Big To Fail"? Well, the surviving mega banks are much bigger. Instead of breaking them up into smaller institutions, we have accomplished the opposite. The five largest banks, which controlled $6.1 trillion in assets before the collapse, by the end of 2011 had assets worth $8.5 trillion — equal to more than half of U.S. economic output.

The Justice Department is going to launch an investigation on the JPMorgan Chase fiasco. I doubt that Dimon and his colleagues are shaking in their boots considering it's the same government that failed to enact much of the Dodd-Frank bill over the last three and a half years.

I'm just an artist not a economist, but it seems simple enough to me that if the banks were to big to fail before, we might want to try breaking them up into smaller banks. And maybe while we're at it we could reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. But at the top of the Big Banks' asset sheets are our politicians, so we won't be doing that. That means the recent JPMorgan thing is just a miniscule pre-bearer of what is to come.

So we know what the Wall Street fat cats learned from the 2008 meltdown. The rest of should learn to pay close attention to which politicians are doing what and let them know if they don't start working to protect our bottom line, there's going to be a very hostile take-over.

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Wed, 16 May 2012 19:32:00 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=19
Are Conservatives More Racist? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=18

What One Piece Of Art Revealed

My new painting inspired by the Trayvon Martin tragedy called "A Tale Of Two Hoodies", has created somewhat of a stir. A popular subject of blogs, it has been noted more than 17,000 times over the weekend. Most enlightening were the many disturbing responses on my site revealing a nation that sadly hasn't come as far as I had thought.

The piece was meant to illuminate the travesty of racially profiling innocent children and call into question any role of racism in the interpretation of policy. Like all my art, the painting was meant to create a civil public discourse.  The opportunity to share views could and should enlighten and open minds.

Reminiscent of the reaction to my painting of President Obama titled "The Truth" in 2009, the reaction revealed a very fractured nation with great disdain for other points of view. The piece depicts a KKK hooded police officer drawing his weapon on a small black child in a hoodie who is merely offering the policeman some generic candy. The people who were so enraged, never were able to quite understand that the painting while inspired by the Trayvon case, was not meant as a literal depiction of the incident , but representative of a broader problem. If the painting pondered the degree of racism in the country today, the reaction to it certainly answered the question. I was personally taken aback by the unashamedly racist comments made by so many.

Based on the response I have received, (and this may not scientifically prove anything) the hatred and racism seems linked to party affiliation. My findings beg the question: Are conservatives more racist than progressives? And if so, why? Perhaps it is because they feel they are being forced by socialist entitlements to share their money with minorities who are on the dole. Maybe they think that minorities don't work as hard and want something for nothing … from them. That kind of thinking might make sense to some educated, fiscal conservative sitting in his cushy office who doesn't want to part with his "hard earned millions." But the socially conservative, beer drinking redneck enjoys the same entitlements. That guy is just ignorant enough to let the fiscal conservative use his racial prejudice against his own best interests. Incredulously, many of these hostile people feel like they are the victims.

I didn't go in with any pre conceived notions. I draw my conclusions from the responses that I have received, you can read them and decide for yourself at http://www.artandresponse.com/paintings/a-tale-of-two-hoodies.html.

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Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:06:10 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=18
Could Cosby Be Wrong? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=17 Bill Cosby feels the Trayvon Martin case is about gun ownership, not race. As you can tell from my painting "A Tale Of Two Hoodies", I think it may be a little of both.

The gun laws in many states are admittedly a little wacky, no doubt. Texas allows concealed weapons on campuses. While I'm sure professors in that state are giving better grades, it's only a matter of time before we get some very disturbing headlines. Using Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" as a defense in the Trayvon Martin shooting should put both Zimmerman and the law itself away for life.

Okay, so I concede the whole "gun laws need reform thing." Score one for the Cos. But I wouldn't bet a box of Jello pudding that racism wasn't a factor both with the perpetrator and the local authorities in the Trayvon Martin case. Just based on his comments while chasing Trayvon, one can deduce that the hispanic guy with the jewish name is a bit of a racist. Let's call a spade a spade.

A more disturbing problem than one racist with a gun is the way the authorities treated the case until about a month of growing national protest. They John Doe'd Trayvon without contacting his parents even though they had all of his contact info in his wallet. Meanwhile, Zimmerman's folks were called on the spot. The original investigator's natural instinct to jail Zimmerman was nixed by a higher up, leaving our vigilante free to roam the streetswith the murder weapon hand. This did happen in Florida after all, and you can't get any deeper south than that.

Dr. Cosby is right on guns, but perhaps a little too forgiving on the race issue. He may be overcompensating due to his support of Tawana Brawley in her case years ago, or just want's to keep every body calm. Personally, I believe if people don't get just a little angry at injustice, they won't be motivated enough to change it.

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Mon, 16 Apr 2012 16:28:34 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=17
No Day at the Park - For Protesters http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=16  

I was at Zuccotti and Union Square parks today in New York City in search of Occupy Wall Street protests. What I found (and didn't find) was discouraging.

First I went to Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the OWS revolution, to show my support. I'm very supportive when the temperature is seventy degrees or above. I journeyed far and came well armed with my Wall Street Wally pig mask and about 2,000 cards promoting "The Art Of Corpocracy" video http://artandresponse.com/corpocracy promoting action against the government's servitude to the 1%.

When I arrived at the hollowed destination, I found the block that was previously lined with protesters touting clever signs, now were lined with people holding signs selling bargain blackberry contracts. Turns out that Bloomberg only allows people in that park with signs that offer a 10% discount. Score it:Capitalism-1, Democracy-0

Taken aback, but undeterred, I traveled upward to Union Square Park where OWS had planned a protest in solidarity with the Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin. You would think the fact that that case concerned a (counterfit) cop killing a black kid (who was guilty of wearing a hoodie) without being held responsible would somehow temper Bloomberg's Anti-First Amendment Rights Brigade to tread lightly. Not so much. Before I arrived the police had stormed the protest, trying to close off the park with metal barricades. They arrested six people with what some might consider unnecessary force considering one woman was knocked unconscious and taken away in an ambulance. By the time I arrived there were a smaller group of protesters (50 or so) peacefully displaying signs and singing songs. Then came a brigade of blue surging in for no apparent reason to trample on the signs and look intimidating.

I find it discouraging that corporations have more rights than (actual) people and they won't let us protest it..

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Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:26:32 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=16
The Fight Against Corpocracy http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=15 With Corporate personhood, bailouts, tax breaks for the rich and entitlement cuts for the rest, one thing is clear, class warfare has been waged. The corporate elite have taken command of our government and turned our leaders. America is still the land of opportunity ... for the very rich.

While we were sleeping, the rich and powerful have been manipulating the system to chip away at the working man by persuading our elected leaders to bust unions, change the tax code, loosen regulations and everything else that's good for their bottom line. Corporations now have more rights than individuals. Even George Orwell wouldn't have imagined it going this far. I don't know about you, but all this makes me a little grumpy. So what can we do about it?

As it so happens, I'm an artist who adheres to this Picasso quote. "Art is not meant to decorate walls. It is an offensive weapon in the defense against the enemy." So I'm fighting back with a video I posted on youtube called "The Art Of Corpocracyhttp://artandresponse.com/corpocracy that utilizes my art to illuminate the government's servitude to the corporate elite. I'm asking all like-minded citizens (anyone making under a million a year or just believes in playing fair) to post it on facebook page, email it to their friends. "Why should I bother?" you ask. I'll tell you why.

The 1% spend their vast resources to promote their agenda and it's worked pretty good so far. After all, they have get half the country to vote against their own best interests. Don't think so? I'm sure you can find a redneck living in a trailer somewhere in Mississippi who voted for a Republican who supports a 15% capital gains tax and a reduction in Medicaid benefits. But Gomer figures the important thing is those homos won't be able to marry. They manipulate minds with FOX, Rush and now with another artist's video blaming President Obama for all the debt (over 3.5 million hits so far).

I'm fighting real hard here and can use a little back up. Help a brother in arms and maybe we can win a battle or two.

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Thu, 15 Mar 2012 13:48:11 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=15
FREE SPEECH *KINDA http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=14  

 EVENT

House Passes Bill That Will Make Protesting Illegal at Secret Service Covered Events

The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.

The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. Under the act, the government is given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country where there is any person protected by the Secret Service.

VENT

The first amendment has been taking a beating in the last couple of years and sure isn't what it used to be. In 2010, the Supreme Court extended it to corporations, giving their CEOs  free reign to spend unlimited amounts to fund campaigns, and effectively drown out the voice of their employees, who might not agree and can’t afford that kind of free speech

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Wed, 29 Feb 2012 17:08:47 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=14
GRAND OLD PARTY taking a GRAND from average middle class families http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=13 EVENT
House GOP to reject stopgap payroll tax cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the Senate adjourned for the holidays, House Republicans are moving to shelve a bipartisan two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that cleared the Senate over the weekend and are demanding instead that their fellow lawmakers return to the Capitol for negotiations.
 
After a spate of bipartisanship last week, the combatants are back in full-throated warfare over President Barack Obama's payroll tax initiative and other expiring measures, including jobless benefits for almost 1.8 million people who will lose them next month if Congress doesn't act.
 
The Senate's short-term, lowest-common-denominator approach would renew a 2 percentage point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, plus jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, and would prevent a huge cut in Medicare payments to doctors.
 
"With millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet, it would be unconscionable for Speaker (John) Boehner to block a bipartisan agreement that would protect middle-class families from the thousand-dollar tax increase looming on January 1st," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who negotiated the two-month extension with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The 2 percentage point tax cut provides about a $1,000 annual tax cut for a typical earner making about $50,000 a year.

VENT

True to their solemn vow to abide by the demands of Grover Norquist (a lobbyist holding no elected office, and the most powerful man in government), the Republicans have threatened filibuster every bill the Democrats have put forth to help reduce the deficit that includes letting the Bush era tax cuts expire for just millionaires. So against raising taxes of any kind are they, that they are willing to shut down the government if any one dare whisper such a suggestion as closing corporate tax loopholes. This is because their first priority (besides making Obama a one term president) is to not raise taxes.
 
So why then have the House Republicans decided to play Scrooge this holiday season and not even let the bill passed by the Democratically controlled Senate which would extend the payroll tax cuts for another two months even come up for a vote? Could it be that they know that if the bill isn't passed, the economic recovery will have stalled, making their first priority (the afore mentioned one term Obama presidency) more likely? But isn't it hypocritical for a party that vows to not raise taxes? If this bill isn't passed, middle class families making $50,000 would have to pay an additional tax of $1,000 a year. Maybe their sentiment just needs an asterisk. They are the party that stands firm against tax increases (*for the wealthy.)  See? Now it all makes sense. After all, somebody has to sacrifice. You can bet your bottom dollar (and that may be all your left with) that if there were a bill that would prevent the raising of capitol gains tax, estate tax or any tax that would put an imperceivable dent in the coffers of their rich benefactors, they would vote it through faster than a corporate jet.
 
I've heard both John Boehner and Eric Cantor (he's the guy who in high school reminded the teacher she forgot to assign homework and whom jocks used to shove in his locker) cry (in Boehner's case, literally) "CLASS WARFARE" when the possibility of a .05% increase in taxes on millionaires would come up. It seems to me in "the war on class", they don't have any. If the Grand Old Party doesn't let this extension pass, your New Year is going to be about a grand less happy.
 
#corpocracy  #Cantor  #Boehner

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Thu, 22 Dec 2011 08:54:48 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=13
Now Newt ... Really? http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=12 EVENT
Gingrich Is Gaining Favor, New Poll Shows

DES MOINES — Newt Gingrich enters the final four weeks of campaigning before the Iowa caucuses with as the Republican frontrunner, beating Mitt Romney by a 15% margin, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.Gingrich is rated more favorably than any of the other six remaining candidates in the race among voters who say they are likely to attend the Republican caucuses in Iowa. He would be supported enthusiastically as his party’s presidential nominee by more voters than any of his rivals.

VENT

Searching for the Great White Hope to beat Obama in 2012, Republican voters have gone through a whole Disney-like list of cartoon characters. They went crazy for Sarah Palin (Hottie), Donald Trump (Trumpy), Michele Bachman (Crazy), Rick Perry (Dopey) and Herman Cain (Sexy). After suffering multiple disillusionments about those untested candidates, Republican voters who have been desperately looking for an alternative to Romney are now turning to someone who's jaded past they are already familiar (and apparently comfortable) with. They are willing to overlook the fact that Newt is ethically challenged and suffers from acute hypocrisy.

My brother sent me this speech of Newt's on YouTube, certain that after viewing it I would finally see the light and be converted to the wonderfulness that is Newt. I agree that Newt's the smartest character running for the Republican nomination (which would hardly qualify him for Mensa.) He's also the only one skilled enough to give Obama a challenging debate. I'll even admit that Newt makes a good point about the wrongness of Fannie May and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, he lacks credibility on the issue considering received $1.6 million from them.

It's not the only time he's been a wee bit hypocritical. Let's not forget that he sanctimoniously led the charge of impeachment against Clinton for having sex with an intern, even though he himself was having an affair with a House of Representatives staffer. Not too surprising considering that he had previously had divorced his wife who was suffering from cancer for a chick he was fooling around with. So much for family values.

In the same speech he admonishes those who were against a cross being put up in the Mojave Desert for being fanatical fascists, meanwhile he was whole heartedly against a Mosque being built in Manhattan.

He's a hell of a guy, that Newt, if you forget those little bouts of hypocrisy and the fact that before he retired from Congress in shame, he was charged with 84 ethics violations, including violating federal tax law and lying to the House Ethics Panel. After all he's done, the man should be in the Big House, not the White House.

#Corpocracy #OWS #Newt

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Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:21:29 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=12
Rising above the spray http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=11 EVENT
California Campus Police Pepper-Spray Students

The University of California at Davis has placed two police officers on administrative leave after video of them pepper-spraying non-violent protesters at point-blank range sparked outrage at school officials. Friday's incident has led to calls for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who announced the action in a written statement Sunday. Katehi said she shares the "outrage" of students and was "deeply saddened" by the use of the chemical irritant by campus police.

"I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident," she said. "However, I pledge to take the actions needed to ensure that this does not happen again."

VENT

Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but as far as I'm concerned, using pepper spray like weed killer on peaceful protesters should be considered use of excessive force. Officer John Pike, who can be seen on YouTube casually spraying the non-violent Davis students with vast amounts of pain inducing chemicals is not the only one who should be held accountable for his heinous actions. Considering that he and his fellow officers have been equipped with Kosco amounts of spray when the were sent implies that they were probably given permission to use it by their "superiors". I heard a police spokeswoman saying that the protesters were sprayed for their own safety. As Sarah Palin says, "Thanks, but no thanks."

While the horrifying video image of the cop spraying the Davis kids rivals the tape of the Rodney King beating or the protests of 1989 in Tiananmen Square, itis by no means the only example of police brutality against OWS protesters captured on film. Here are a just few more examples.

We are supposed to be the land of the free not, Communist China. I can understand authorities not wanting people camping out, using public parks as their rent free living space, but in this country we are supposed to have a right to assemble in peaceful protester without being tortured by the officers who are supposed to protect us. The authorities use all kinds of excuses to keep the protesters out of the parks like unsanitary conditions. Isn’t it nicer and more American to install a few porta-potties than beat the shit out of peaceful citizens? Oh, and next time, hold the pepper.

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Wed, 30 Nov 2011 15:07:27 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=11
Raising Cain http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=10 EVENT

The sexual harassmentcontroversy surrounding presidential hopeful Herman Cain does not appear to be hurting him much. According to CNN, Cain's chief of staff reported that Friends of Cain, the Cain campaign organization, received $400,000 in donations on Monday, calling it a "clear vote of confidence" for the Republican candidate.

To add emphasis, a poll from Quinnipiac revealed Cain has increased his lead over former front-runner Mitt Romneyin the nomination race.

VENT

The double standards of the Republican Leaders (and followers) are dumfoundingly beyond logic. The same people who demanded that Weiner step down from his congressional post are supporting Horny Herman's bid for President of the United States.

Let's take an objective view of the two. Weiner twitted some inappropriate but impressive pictures of himself in his tighty- whities to a woman from his cell phone. For that, he was forced by Republicans and Democrats alike to retire from congress in shame. When your behavior doesn't come up to congressional moral standards, it's like Charlie Sheen telling you your lifestyle is out of control. The bar for acceptable sexual misconduct has been set and I can accept that. Now comes along Herman Cain, a man running for the highest office in the land, who just happens to have forgotten about having settled a couple of sexual harassment suits. So far, there are four accusers to date. To be clear, the definition of sexual harassment is: intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.[1] Sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying.

Personally, I consider that an even more serious offense that sexting. Instead of demanding he drop out of the race, Republicans  rewarded him with more money and higher poll numbers. Thank you for your support. That well known champion of African Americans , Rush Limbaugh, even accused the "liberal" media of racism for suggesting Cain drop out.

In this great country of ours a man is considered innocent until proven guilty, or if he's rich enough to settle out of court (unless he's a Democrat.)

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Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:36:14 -0600 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=10
The Wild Wild Wisconson Governer http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=9 EVENT
18 Arrested in Wisconsin Assembly for Using Cameras; Guns Still Allowed

Eighteen people were arrested Tuesday for using cameras in the Wisconsin Assembly gallery. Concerned citizens had gone to the capitol to protest a series of arrests in recent weeks of individuals who carried signs or took photos or video in defiance of an Assembly ban. The event coincided with the implementation of Wisconsin's new concealed carry law, which allows residents to carry a concealed firearm -- including inside the Assembly gallery.
 
On the agenda in Tuesday's session was a bill to institute the Castle Doctrine, a "shoot first, ask questions later" bill that gives a person immunity from civil and criminal liability if they shoot another in self defense in their home, work, or vehicle.

VENT

Ok, this one is so ridiculous, even Charlton Heston would have to think twice before defending it. You can shoot anyone in Wisconsin without consequence ... just not with a camera. Texas move over, there's a new kid in town taking over your title as the craziest frickin’ state in the nation. Why does Governor Walker think cameras are more dangerous than guns. Could it be because they can record what's going on in the State Assembly? Which begs the question, 'What's going on in the State Assembly that's more crazy than allowing people to kill each other?'
 
Maybe Governor Walker is just an old fashioned type of guy. He wants to return to simpler times. I thought Walker's issuance of the union-busting law to strip state employees the right to collective bargaining was regressive. But now it's the wild, wild west in Wisconsin. Which of course explains why there would be no cameras.
 
Now wait just a cotton pickin' minute there Gov. If there's not anything in the constitution given' folks the right to bear cameras, you can be darn tootin' it's only because there weren't invented yet when they done wrote it.

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Thu, 03 Nov 2011 19:39:29 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=9
May the Force be with us http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=8 EVENT

OAKLAND, Calif. — A clash between Oakland police and Occupy Wall Street protesters left an Iraq War veteran hospitalized Wednesday after a projectile struck him in a conflict that came as tensions grew over demonstration encampments across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull Tuesday in a march with other protesters toward City Hall. The demonstrators had been making an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of a disbanded protesters' camp when they were met by officers in riot gear. Deeply disturbing video

VENT

The aforementioned event could be considered an accident, an isolated incident. Unfortunately, while it's the most obviously egregious, it's just part of a bigger pattern of the "authorities" doing everything in their power to stop peaceful citizens from protesting against corporate control of our government. Seems freedom of speech is only fine for some people like corporations. We the people are not being represented by the government and the "authorities" don't want us to complain. Hence, we the people are also not being served nor protected by the police. It seems we need protection from them. A common chant I've heard from the protesters to the police was "Who are you protecting?" A good question indeed. Another chant was "Cops are  the 99%." That may be true but they are the part of the 99% with the guns and they want to keep their jobs in this economy. That's also true of of the politicians passing laws that help the 1% and rob the rest of us from a fair opportunity of achieving the American dream. Only we get to vote those politicians (and the mayors responsible for their police) into those jobs. All we have to do is threaten to kick the mayors out of office and their police forces will stop being so … forceful. The cops themselves aren't such a bad lot. After all, when I participated in the OWS events in NY, I found the police officers to be reasonable and somewhat empathetic overall. They were just people following orders and doing their jobs. Of course the same could also be said of Nazi SS officers.

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Thu, 27 Oct 2011 13:43:44 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=8
From a Pig's Eye (View) http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=7 EVENT (according to Buck Sexton of The Blaze)

Zuccotti Park Occupiers marched to Washington Square around 2:00PM. It was a leftist protest version of a tailgate party, with all the various factions joining together before the big Times Square event. It felt like they were preparing for radicalism’s Super Bowl.

Socialists/Communists/Anarchist:The storm troopers of the Occupy movement, the statists and anti-statists have linked arm-in-arm (literally) to bring down the system as we know it. Whenever I talk to these guys, they are quick to rail against capitalism. More than any other group, they openly call for the collapse of the financial system, the end of America as we know it, and the implementation of a Marxist mobocracy.

VENT

I'll admit that I've felt increasingly despondent and hopeless over the last several years as I realized that my children were going to be the first generation in my family that were going to have it tougher than the generation before it. And it was even more disheartening to know that it is all because of the unrelenting greed of the few, the powerful and the corrupt. Our country and economy have been gaining momentum in a downward spiral due to the mutation of our democracy into a corpocracy and there was nothing we could do about it … until now.

I was there at the big march from Zuccotti Park to Chase bank to Washington Square passing out free posters and taking pictures (as Wall Street Wally) with supporters of the movement. I was in the thick of it when we took Times Square. My recollections of the Oct 15th event are a little different than Bucky boy’s. By the end of the day my hoofs were killing me but I was in hog heaven because I felt like we, the people (sound familiar?) successfully spoke up for ourselves. The other 1% and those they pay to represent their interests (like Mr. Sexton) will try to discredit the OWS movement in an effort to keep the status quo. After Saturday, I'm feeling like they won't be able to do it. Their propaganda media machines aren't going to be loud enough to drown out the voice of the people, not 99% of us anyway. They can try to divide us with wedge issues and such, but we aren't going to fall for their old tricks anymore. We've had a taste of victory on Saturday in the fight to get a fair and equal opportunity to earn a slice of the American pie and that's only wet our appetite and made us more resolute. One recurring chant/invitation from the protesters to the crowds watching was “ Don’t watch us, join us.” I suggest you take us up on it, you’ll feel better doing something about it.

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Tue, 18 Oct 2011 20:15:07 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=7
Life Imitating Art http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=6

EVENT

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sure knows how to make a press conference interesting. When formally announcing his endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential bid, Christie drew a long metaphor on the difference between Obama and Romney's approach to the American dream — using pie.

"I know that Mitt Romney believes that the American pie can be grown bigger — that it can be an infinite size — because of the infinite nature of American ingenuity, and effort, and character." he said. "That's what this election is gonna be about."

VENT

We've all heard about art imitating life but this is an uncanny case of life imitating art. A friend of mine sent me this article of Chris Christie (photo upper right) talking about American pie because he was familiar with my painting titled 'American Pie' (photo upper left). Even though the painting is particularly timely considering the current wave of "Occupation Wall Street" mania, it was indeed completed over a year ago. When the painting was conceived, neither I, nor most people had ever heard of Governor Christie, the man many desperate conservatives have since considered the great white (hope) of the GOP presidential primaries. I swear. I've got the copyright certificate to prove it.

Let's for now try to ignore the obvious likeness between our reluctant non-presidential candidate and the protagonist of my painting and instead concentrate on the substance of Christie's metaphor. By the look of him you would assume Christie would be an expert on pie and the ability to "grow to an infinite size". The Governor said that he and his new best friend Mit believe the American way of life was built on entrepreneurship and allowing the unleashing American spirit and inventiveness. While that was greatly true once upon a time, somewhere along the way some of those entrepreneurs became so rich powerful that they stared buying the favors of politicians  who would then rig the system and literally rewrite the laws in their favor. This has taken the freedom to compete out of the free market and put the spirit of competition on a short leash. Companies are taken over by corporations who are taken over by larger conglomerates until they are too big to fail. That makes for no competition for them and no choices for consumers and employees). And the government lets it happen. I don't know about you, but that lack of opportunity kinda hurts me right in my American spirit.

Christie also said that Obama wants to tell Americans who are not doing well that the pie is only so big and that if you want more you have to take it from others. Isn't that what those with have been doing to those without since time began (or at least since Reagan). Like the old Ray Charles song "Them that's got, shall get. Them that don't shall lose." There must be a finite amount of pie because the republicans want to cut Grandma's medicare and social security so they can give tax breaks to their rich donors. In New York at the end of this year, they will be cutting jobs and services so they can give 5 billion dollars in tax breaks to billionaires. Isn't that taking some pie from someone and giving it to someone else? Someone who has obviously had more than their fair share of pie? Yeah, I'm looking at you Governor Crisco.

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Tue, 11 Oct 2011 21:10:13 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=6
Above The Law - Beneath Contempt. http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=5 EVENT

June 29, 2011- Former Halliburton employee and gang rape victim, Jamie Leigh Jones is seeking justice for herself and all other women who have been raped and can't sue due to binding mandatory clauses in their employment contracts while working overseas for government contractors. Jones is one of a group of women who claim they were harassed or assaulted while working for KBR and former parent company Halliburton in Iraq.

VENT

The more details you hear about this story the more enraged you get. It seems Ms. Jones was savagely gang raped by her co-workers who had no fear of facing legal consequences. Instead of compassion, her Halliburton/KBR employers imprisoned her in a container denying her access to the outside world.  An Army doctor's examination that verified that Jones was a victim of gang rape has mysteriously disappeared. It doesn't matter much anyway since Halliburton/KBR claims its immune from being sued in criminal court. Apparently they're right. Laws put in place primarily under the Bush administration basically give contractors working in Iraq immunity from prosecution. When the criminal courts failed to act, Jones' lawyers filed a civil suit, only to be met with Halliburton's response that all her claims were to be decided in arbitration because she'd signed away her rights to bring the company to court when she signed her employment contract. The arbitration process is basically a stacked deck whereby the corporation almost always wins. Corporations regularly use mandatory arbitration clauses to bypass the judicial system.

Unknowingly, Jamie signed away her right to a jury trial at the age of 20 and without the advice of counsel. You might be thinking that she did it to herself, that she should have read all the fine print when she applied for that job. Don't judge her too harshly, the chances are that you and everyone you know have done the same thing, and often. Don't think so? Then I guess you knew that when you signed up for that checking account, you gave permission for the back to freely give out your social security number to whomever they wish. Yeah, that's right, the same company that will sell you identity theft protection. Most people don't consider that when we click on the "Accept" button or sign those ever growing "forms" filled with ever shrinking type we sign away our legal and sometimes human rights. It's our responsibility to understand what we're signing, you say. I guess it's the responsibility of everyone  to  finish law school too, or bring a lawyer with us every time we go shopping. We sign these "agreements" without understanding them because we really have little to no choice if we need the product or service they are extorting us for. This is America, and we are free to purchase from their competition but they too will insist that we agree to whatever conditions they demand. In just about any industry today, the few remaining companies are more like cohorts than competitors. Can anyone say collusion?  If you assumed our government would protect us from such obvious injustice, then you are more naive than young Jamie Leigh was.

As always, it comes down to the fact that our elected leaders work for the people who put them in office. And without limits to corporate campaign donations, our respected leaders will always work for and side with the Halliburtons of this world. That leaves the rest of us as vulnerable as poor Jamie Leigh Jones.
 

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Sat, 02 Jul 2011 13:49:09 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=5
Big Business' Favorite Group - The Supremes http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=4 Event

On June 22, 2011 The Supreme Court gave the pharmaceutical industry a pair of victories, shielding the makers of generic drugs from most lawsuits by injured patients and declaring that drug makers have a free-speech right to buy private prescription records to boost their sales pitches to doctors.

Vent

Lucky for us, Federal law requires the makers of brand name drugs to label their products with FDA-approved warning information and to update the warnings when reports of new problems arise.Now the Supreme Court decides that makers of generic brands don’t have to. That doesn’t sound so bad until you consider that 75% of the prescriptions written in this country are for generic versions of brand-name drugs. So warnings about the possible dangers of their products are something the drug companies don’t have to share yet at the same time the same court decides that the same drug companies can pass around your personal information to whomever they wish for marketing purposes. We’ll I guess they figure that the time you save not reading drug warnings can better be used reading unsolicited ads. O.K., score one for Big Business. I’m sure the Supreme Court also rules in favor of the little guy sometimes. Right? Let’s take a look at some recent decisions.

Just two days earlier they blocked a massive sex discrimination lawsuit against Walmart on behalf of female employees in a decision that makes it harder to mount large-scale bias claims against the nation's biggest companies. Alright, 0 for 2, so it was a bad week for the little guys and (especially) gals. Let’s be fair, two cases in a week doesn’t necessarily make a pattern. Maybe the Supremes are just in a big business kind of mood. Let’s go back a little earlier in the year.

I see that on February 22, 2011 the Supreme Court ruled to Federal protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits by parents who claim that vaccines harmed their children. Well, we all know parents can sometimes get a little oversensitive when their children die from an FDA approved vaccine. And after all, it’s not the pharmaceutical companies fault that those kids didn’t react well to their product.

The Supreme Court justices are there for life (talk about job security). They are appointed by our elected Presidents and confirmed by our elected Congress. These conservative Supremes are the people who in 2009 ruled that Large corporations can spend unlimited amounts for political campaigns. Diana Ross' Supremes could have made a better ruling. So in a nutshell, Big Business spends billions to elect officials who appoint judges who rule in favor of … guess who … that’s right …Big Business.

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Thu, 30 Jun 2011 11:30:49 -0500 http://artandresponse.com/blog.php?d=4