It pretty much started before the Russian Revolution in 1917. But we’re going to pick up this particular story at the meaty part. Lenin and Trotsky understood the power of public perception. And I mean they REALLY understood it on several levels. They understood that the real power of any nation, state, country, whatever resides with the masses. They also understood that power cannot be held long if taken by force. You have to have the people GIVE you power because someone who gives you power is less likely to try and take it away from you than someone you took the power from.

So, how do you get someone to give you anything? You make him think he is going to get something of greater value to himself than that which he gives up. This is the basic tenet of Capitalism. But if you are trading a box of air for a valuable commodity like power, what happens when the other guy opens the box and sees nothing or very little? You convince him of two things – 1) The box isn’t empty, it’s really half full. 2) Some bad guy (usually “The Rich”) got the missing half and all he needs to do is give you more power so you can take back what is rightfully the “victim’s”. This describes every successful power play in history. You have four players: Those who want and get power; those who give power; some good, service, or program which to trade for the power; and a bad guy who purportedly muddies up the deal to enrich himself. It is very important that you couch the bad guy in terms of greed. You can’t say the bad guy took what is rightfully the “People’s” just out of meanness. Most people cannot identify with that. They CAN, however, identify with the most ill-defined word in the English language – Greed. You can’t eat power or drive it to work or put it over your head to keep the rain off. You can trade it for those things when someone offers you worldly riches for that which cost you nothing. This seems like a really good deal to the peasant or John Q. Public since a street sweeper or factory worker has long ago learned to acquiesce to other’s whims in order to have a job. So all he does is acquiesce to the government to gain some other benefit like housing, food, health care, Cash for Clunkers, etc.  In this, the peasant thinks HE is being greedy and getting ahead like “The Rich” do. He’ll show them!

Ever hear the saying “If you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth”? Well, you can’t stand on every street corner and tell you lies or even hire people to do it. But if you get an artist – one trained in the skills of getting people’s attention and then holding it long enough to get a simple idea in their head – to create art that pushes your agenda, then you have a very efficient machine for not only swaying sentiment  and getting power, but also for molding public opinion to further your agenda  and maintain power. See, artists are way more important than they seem. They don’t have any more power than you or I, but they are able to help steer power from the audience to the intended elites.

Obama hope lenin1

But, how do you get the artists to work for you? They have to be paid. The most efficient way to do this is to first get enough power from the masses that they give you money (taxes) to spend on whatever you want to (say, subsides), then you use those subsides as “funding” for the artist. Now, you can SAY that you are concerned about the cultural well being of the masses and want the artists to just do as they please to “expand the minds” of the populace in the arts. Then, you can go to the artists, once they get hooked on the funding, and strongly suggest that the funding is contingent on their support for your policies.

yeswedemand healthcare "The Way To Prosperity"

“The Way To Prosperity”

I know that the US has used propaganda posters before – particularly in WWII. “Rosie the Riveter”, “Loose Lips Sink Ships”, “Buy War Bonds”, etc. and all that stuff. Arguably, it could be said that was war time and the very survival of the nation was at stake. So, they get a pass. But the Soviets took propaganda art to a whole new level. It was constant and it was about everything. Government commissioned art was a pretty good business in the USSR back in the day. It was bright colors or sticking contrasts – the simpler the better. It had one message and it was “in your face” – again, the simpler the better. It either showed action or strong positive emotion, no nuance here – simple, better. And it emphasized the pride or strength of the powerless to get something or keep something – simple, better. The overriding theme was “simple images, simple messages, simple people”. In other words, kinda like those “Monter Truck Rally” commercials or used car commercials where they think the louder they yell at you, the dumber you are. You do know that when you hear a commercial on the radio or see one on TV, the louder and more times a phrase is repeated, the dumber the target audience, don’t you?

“MONSTER BLOW OUT SALE!! MONSTER BLOW OUT SALE!! MONSTER BLOW OUT SALE!! NO CREDIT APPLICATIONS REFUSED!! NO CREDIT APPLICATIONS REFUSED!!  AT BILLY’S USED CARS, IF YOU CAN BEATHE, YOU CAN DRIVE!!!

Does that sound like a Mercedes Benz commercial? Lexus? BMW? Ummm, no. Loud+repeat=stupid target market. Much in the same way mass produced bright color “art work” with simple messages of policy=dumb masses (say that real fast)

This formula was so successful that other “Socialist” (re: Communist) nations adopted the format.

Chinese farmer

Chinese farmer

North Korean soldier smashing the US Capitol

North Korean soldier smashing the US Capitol

So, what does this have to do with the here and now?  It seems there was a conference call. A conference call between government officials and recipients of government grants. No biggy, right? Wrong. Seems the government officials asked the grant recipients to use the government (read: taxpayer) money to further the President’s agenda, politics, and policy initiatives. Andrew Breitbart  has been working on a little project that implicates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) of trying to get artists to create “art” that promotes the political goals and initiatives of the Obama Administration.  See, this would violate the non-partisan charter of the NEA. Of course the NEA denied it, and so did the White House. It turns out, both of them were flat out lying.

According to the LA Times Blog “Culture Monster”, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote an open letter to the NEA warning them that political influence over the artists funded by the NEA violates the non-partisan charter of the organization. He was tipped off to a conference call that included Yosi Sergant, who is listed on the NEA’s website as communications director, White House official Buffy Wicks, film maker and political director for Def Jam’s Russell Simmons – Michael Skolnik,  A rep for Winner and Associates in Los Angeles – Bim Ayandele, among others. Some of the others are verrry interesting. (Check Big Government.com for a fuller list)

One guy invited to the call was Patrick Courrielche. He owns a Los Angeles marketing and entertainment company, inform Ventures. He apparently used to employ Yosi Sergent but has been somewhat critical of the arts community’s lack of dissent of the policies and decisions of the new administration. That must have escaped the radar of the political power players as he was invited to attend the call anyway. He was disturbed by some of what he heard. As he writes in a post on BigGovernment.com:

“Backed by the full weight of President Barack Obama’s call to service and the institutional weight of the NEA, the conference call was billed as an opportunity for those in the art community to inspire service in four key categories, and at the top of the list were “health care” and “energy and environment.” The service was to be attached to the President’s United We Serve campaign, a nationwide federal initiative to make service a way of life for all Americans.”

According to “NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES ACT OF 1965,
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS APPROPRIATIONS AS OF FISCAL YEAR 2006,
AND RELATED LEGISLATION
”  20 U.S.C. § 953 § 953.  National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities (d) – top of page four:

Prohibition against Federal supervision over policy determination, personnel,
or curriculum, or administration or operation of any school or other non-Federal
body.
In the administration of this Act no department, agency, officer, or employee of
the United States shall exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the policy
determination, personnel, or curriculum, or the administration or operation of any
school or other non-Federal agency, institution, organization, or association.”

And here’s a real whizz-banger from the same legislation (middle of page 25):

“No part of any appropriation contained in this Act shall be available for any activity or the
publication or distribution of literature that in any way tends to promote public support or
opposition to any legislative proposal on which Congressional action is not complete other
than to communicate to Members of Congress as described in 18 U.S.C. 1913.
[PL 109-54, Title IV, Sec. 402]”

Now, scroll up and re-read Mr. Courrielche’s quote from his post and then re-read that last part again. Tell me what smells fishy.

I’m looking for the transcript to the call. I’ve read parts of it but will post a link to the whole transcript when I find it.

Good links for info on this subject:

Patterico.com

Mypetjawa.mu.nu

Ace of  Spades

Big Hollywood

Big Government

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