Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 18, 2013 - February 11, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013


How the New
Kleptocracy Works

MORE ABOUT THE ART IN ITS ORIGINAL HOME, IF YOU CARE. So you want to steal $25 to $30 billion in assets from a private estate protected by a will designed expressly to prevent such a theft? This is your manual, available on Netflix. Horrifying.

The constitutional issue of eminent domain is never mentioned, but the Supreme Court's disgraceful decisions on this subject echo throughout the story. Why? Because the thieves had no need of such a resort, which is today available to them as it wasn't then. God help us all. They achieved their objective through the use of deception, subtle intimidation, deep pockets, unscrupulous collusion, perjury, a corrupt judiciary, and where necessary, raw government power. As usual, the media facilitated the process, with only a few limited exceptions (including the local Fox News station; NPR not so much).

It's of particular interest to me because it's a Philadelphia story. The asset in question is one of the greatest art collections in the world, amassed by a Philly boy born poor who became rich and used his fortune to acquire art nobody in Europe, let alone the United States, valued. When he first showed his collection to the public in 1923, the city's most august art critics reviled it as primitive, nasty, and worthless.  Barnes decided then that Philadelphia "society" didn't deserve access to what are now regarded as the greatest Renoirs, Cezannes, Van Goghs, Picassos, and Matisses in the world. Not even the Louvre in Paris can rival the treasures of the Barnes collection. He housed them in a private foundation he conceived of as an educational institution. He tried to bulletproof his will so that his paintings could never be sold, loaned, or moved from the building he built to display them.

Ironies abound. His enemies during his lifetime were Republican WASPs. He himself was a New Deal Democrat, committed to making art available to ordinary people rather than snobs. But the cabal that formed to appropriate his estate 40 years after his death was a lefty enterprise. The Democrat governor of Pennsylvania, the Democrat mayor of Philadelphia, and multiple private foundations whose donations seem perpetually to benefit left wing groups and causes.

More irony. One of the principal victims of the heist was a small black college Barnes had named in his will in hopes of keeping society powers like the Philadelphia Museum of Art out of the picture. As it turned out, the college traded its right to control tens of billions worth of art for a trifling $50 million. (Governor Rendell smiled winningly at the college trustees.) The cabal expanded and packed the board of Barnes trustees with Pew and Museum of Art factotums, and then proceeded to lie to the court which had to rule on the disposition of the collection. A $100 million lie. That's what Pennsylvania had already budgeted for moving the collection from its home in Lower Merion to the doorstep of, ta da, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They just didn't mention that money when they claimed it was financially impossible to keep the collection in Lower Merion. Meanwhile, Pew was using its incipient control of the Barnes collection to obtain status from the IRS as a public rather than private charity. A chief criterion of such a status change involves being able to raise public monies. Pew went on to claim the budgeted $100 million as money it had raised, even while it insisted to the court that Barnes was immaterial to its aspiration for a change of status. Of course as a private charity with $4 billion in assets, the idea that Pew could attract donations was laughable. Unless, you know, you had $100 million salted away in a state bank account you could claim as contributions from the public. (And, yes, the IRS granted their petition...)

You have to watch the documentary. I can't do justice here to the scale or to the intricacies of the crime. All I can do is offer two points made in the film. One, Henri Matisse said the Barnes Foundation was the only sane place to see art in America. Two, art experts proclaim on camera that this is the greatest theft of art since the Nazi looting of World War II.

Worst of all, former governor Ed Rendell, much admired in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, is one of the only members of the consortium that killed the Barnes Foundation willing to talk about it on camera. He's proud of himself. He happily repeats lies disproven by the record. He's shameless. For him it's like building a baseball park or a football stadium. Art is revenue. No more, no less.

And that's the most shameful thing about the whole dirty scheme.

This is how it works, from Wall Street to Solyndra to ObamaCare. It's called oligarchy. It has nothing to do with free enterprise. It has everything to do with powerful individuals and institutions public, private, and semi-private who are seeking personal gain and have no compunctions about how to further their own interests by fixing the game in any way they can, by any means possible, legal, ethical, or not.

The Barnes story is not unique. It's just a microcosm. It can be deciphered and understood. And if you care about art, it's even worse. Wait till you hear who the court decided had no standing in the legal proceedings. It should ring a very personal bell.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

An Instapunk Valentine:

Yeah. We know how sad it all is. Why do you insist that we don't?

THE UNFAIRNESS OF THINGS. We may not be influential here, but we are a Petrie dish. Catastrophe has befallen us, and reactions are significant. We've mostly seen every flavor of denial.

1. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

2. It is better to be right than fight a losing battle with idiots who probably deserve what they get.

3. It is better to be righteous than dirty our hands with the evil ones.

4. It is better to run away.

5. It's no big deal. The cyber generation will eventually figure it all out and set things right.

What a crock. All of it.  I'm not the only one who doesn't have a president. The nation doesn't have a president. He has no interest whatever in doing his job. He's just a celebrity, and the mass media are his handlers and assistants.  Something here to help you understand how dire and ridiculous this state of affairs is.

No matter how bellicose and macho the rhetoric, giving up is giving up. Wanting to do something is not the same as doing something. I told you how to fight back against the mass media. There was a flurry of interest. That's all it was.

The shit will be hitting the fan very soon. Feeling superior to the mess isn't going to work much longer. Have friends who've lost jobs, homes, and hope? Soon enough it will be you. Count on it. Posted this before:

You didn't get it. I understand. Really, I do. But it's time you woke up and smelled the coffee.We've had tough times before. Our forebears didn't give up. What gives us the right?

Where we are. Learn how to dance on a blade or subside into silence.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Kids Party

Sorry, Helk. You should'a been there on kazoo.
Oxbridge should'a been your home.

FOR THE KIDS, INCLUDING KOMMENTERS. Joe's bent out of shape. Good sign. Helk is all over the place. He's at home there.

Where Joe went wrong. He decided he knew what I was going to say before I said it, then objected because he knows he's smarter than what I was going to say. He didn't talk about a way forward of his own devise. He talked about why I was wrong before he even heard what I had to say. Psychic?

Maybe he is. Hell. You all get to decide that. He thinks I'm talking about rebranding even though I said I wasn't. Is this rebranding?

The principal part of the Kids Party platform is adjusting the timeframe. People have chosen Obama for a second term. Ergo, they have accepted a stagnant economy, a devolving world order, and a level of debt which guarantees massive taxation and fewer net government services for the foreseeable future. Hardly anyone disputes this, even in the MSM. The next 10 years are crap.

Is it mere rebranding to suggest that politicians accept this state of affairs? It's here and unavoidable. What can anyone say to the voters now that will make any difference?

The Kids are the way back to voter conscience. They're not just cute little Fisher-Price consumers who have to be protected from gunfire at the blackboard. They're our heirs, descendants, the fathers and mothers of our legacy. They may be small and demanding today, but in the near future they will be supplicants, the first generation of American citizens who do not have God-given rights but a few dispensations granted by the state to the right people, meaning the ones who have the narrowest claims of victimhood and societal recompense. Is that how you want your kids' lives defined? As stand-ins for dead precursors whose histories they couldn't recite if you held a gun to their heads? Really?

I'm talking about a huge shift from "Leave our kids alone" to "What kind of nation will best enable our children to live as prosperously as we did, with the hope of fulfilling life experiences, and both a dignity and a longevity that will honor those of us who bore them?" What world will they be living in 10 to 15 years from now? Even if we accept a permanent Obama recession as penance for America's racist and sexist past, do we want our offspring to keep paying in perpetuity for the fact that their parents didn't love everyone not like them enough?

Rebranding? Hardly. I'm talking the end of ideology and the beginning of cultural common sense.

I gave you the first hint, which no one got. The Kids Party Issue isn't abortion. It's low birth rate. Ask, how do we get more kids? The declining numbers of children in the face of ObamaCare are a catastrophe. Recent college or high school grads who are forced to pay full boat medical insurance they don't need to take care of the older lame and halt. Do the Boomers really want that on their conscience? If we're going to do that, how many generations do we expect to suffer? Okay. We've shown we'll kill our own kids for what we expect today. But what if we extend the timeframe and realize that we're permanently disabling all young people and their prospects for prosperity? How MIGHT we increase the birth rate, so that the next generation isn't still saddled with crippling debt they've never earned -- in the name of health insurance and various reparations to victims past. btw, healthy birthrates by the indigenous population are the best defense against fancied cultural erosion by immigrant populations. Europe is succumbing to immigrant crises because Europeans aren't having any more children. Japan has a similar problem. How could we possibly do better?

Get the drift? Start talking 10 to 20 years out.

Energy. Do you want your descendants to pay for your ignorant, profligate gas guzzling? Do you want your winsome five year old dependent 20 years down the road on wind farms never built, electric cars that don't work or are too expensive to own, or blackouts caused by no new coal plants or nuclear plants? Or would you rather have your grandchildren sucking their thumbs in living rooms heated by abundantly available natural gas? Do you find anything preferable about refusing to develop domestic energy sources and remaining dependent on the barbarian Middle East, which, if your granddaughter happens into it, will likely punish her by rape or filicide in the name of Allah?

Foreign Policy. Do you feel sufficient guilt for the multifarious American interventions that kept Europe from self-extinction and the east from killing everyone in the name of reason?  Are you truly happier with a rudderless world that runs itself or doesn't based on the fact that all cultures are equally valid? Are you grooving on the honor killings, suicide bombings, and decapitations which are somehow no more creepy than Christian evangelism and Mormon underwear? Or, when you think about your unborn grandson, are you more at ease with the idea of the U.S. military as their shield and protector?

Families. Meaning fatherhood and motherhood. Are you really content with a public school system that does everything to lock you out of the education of your own children? Sure, maybe it's convenient right now, this moment, when you're busy earning the bucks that pay for their sneakers and cell phones. But what about years from now? When they need the hard lessons about what work is, and how focused you have to be on a job, a profession, a calling to get ahead? Thinking all the way down that road, don't you want to reclaim some control from mere teacher unions about how your family might be raised? Do you think you might have some opinion about whether fathers and mothers should be married and living together? Or are you more upset on general principles about the tiny percentage of gay marriages being used to distract the rest of us from a sky high illegitimacy rate? Or is it that just more rebranding?

Class. You're native born Americans. Are you at peace with the idea that there's a new political class in Washington, DC, that does nothing but piss on you? They're the quality, and you're the idiots who either object or, more laughably, go along? Who matters in their math? Not anyone but the handful of officeholders, lobbyists, and cronies who have pretended most successfully they care about the common man.

Let's review. Nothing said about abortion, limited government, unions, or the sanctity of the constitution.

I mentioned five commandments because if we're talking about the future, that's what we really need taught in the schools. Let the people reaffirm Christianity if that's what they desire. To save the nation, all we need is parents of any or no faith beginning to act like parents once again. And laying down the law, family style, about how the future might best be built. Which has to do with verities of morality that have obtained since Moses.

Give it some thought, O you wise young'uns. Oh. I forgot. A brilliant, serious, post-modern composer has done his own version of "I'm a Creep." I saw a performance of it last night on "Live at the Curtis Institute" on Philadelphia PBS. Am affable composer named George Crumb compared himself to Debussy and Bartok. Who'd have loved him, I'm sure. Then we watched a performance. Different camera angle from the one below. We saw a genius-level female pianist bent over the piano to "make sounds" strike a bunch of bass chords while appearing to be playing with herself. Cool. You know. Inadvertent. The new classical music. Otherwise, or perhaps because of, a stellar incarnation of the original masterpiece.

As my wife mockingly told me after watching Helk's geek video, "The Kids are Alright." Can't fool them, by gar.

Believe that? Or are you ready to take up the sword and buckler on their behalf?

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