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
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
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
Yeah. We know
how sad it all is. Why do you insist that we don't?
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
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
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
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
Helk. You should'a been there on kazoo. Oxbridge should'a been your
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
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
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
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