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ePluribus: America is an on-line contemporary American culture magazine that incorporates the original concept of our nation's motto to provide cultural news coverage of America.

Deadly High-Five: MBS & Putin Speak Loudly With Gestures At G20 Summit

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Let’s call it what it is; the high five between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (MBS) evoke visions of Doctor Evil and Number 2 celebrating a win for their team. And if it didn’t send chills down your spine, you haven’t been keeping up with world affairs. Anyone who has can fill in the blanks to properly caption the symbolism behind it. Keep in mind, Putin is no stranger to brazen killings of journalists in his own country.

Another avenue to capture and understand the moment and how it’s portrayed is through the lens of the media. And, where folks get the vast majority of their information from can undoubtedly skew their perceptions, which is by design because your favorite media watering hole aims to influence you.

Comparing CNN, MSNBC, NYDN, Fox News, NYPost, WSJ and even Al Jazeera’s coverage of the dramatic greeting between the two men, it’s easy to make the contrasts and comparisons. CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and the NYPost took a more bombastic approach to describe the high-five that sent chills to spines across the globe. The wording used, “astounding, bazaar, deadly serious and Murder? What murder?” or referring to the two men as “blood brothers” is a clear position the above mentioned outlets have taken. This stance, which pays in dividends, serves their more moderate leaning audience. Comparing CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and NYPost—more liberal leaning media companies—coverage to the WSJ’s coverage of the high-five at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires there’s a clear distinction; CNN, MSNBC, NYDN and NYPost made their views of the dramatic handshake very clear by painting it in a negative light, while the WSJ took a more conservative brush to it for its audience—a more conservative leaning and economy focused audience—by describing the greeting as exchanging “pleasantries” and quickly moving on to other subject matters central to the G20 Summit.

Looking at Al Jazeera and considering the strained relationship between the two countries, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, one could easily surmise the Qatar media company would take a hostile position in describing and analyzing the irregular exchange between MBS and Putin, but it didn’t. Al Jazeera took a neutral position on the G20 Summit, including the high-five. The media company simply gave updates on the happenings at the Summit. From the issues being discussed to the meetings being held with all the different world leaders, Al Jazeera didn’t even describe the exchange with bombastic wordings like CNN, MSNBC, NYDN or NYPost and the like did. It provided a ticker with periodic updates of the Summit.

Fox News also took a different position. The conservative leaning media company and staunch supporter and defender of U.S. President Donald J. Trump didn’t lead with the high-five angle, nor did it mention it. Instead, Fox News chose to highlight Trump and his leadership at the Summit favorably instead. Fox News came out with this headline, “Trump Presses Putin on Syria, US Election Meddling in First Meeting.” Fox led with this soft on Trump approach storyline, while most other major news outlets spoke about the strange greeting following the barbaric killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi. There is no mention or video of the handshake between MBS and Putin on the Fox News website. This is clearly by design to cater to its audience, most of whom are conservative leaning and even cult-like Trump supporters.

Media companies cater to their specific audience by way of storytelling. If not, they lose them and all the money the story arc generates. This pattern of shaping information to pacify audience members is not new in the art of storytelling or news reporting. Media outlets are simply getting better at delivering news that fits a certain agenda rather than news that serves to empower people.  This news media strategy, whether it be liberal or conservative leaning, is frightening, especially in the era of Trump, heightened corporate greed and wrongdoings, including brazen murders of top officials and journalists tasked with uncovering truth and holding the powerful accountable.

 

Marking The 50th Anniversary Of Shirley Chisholm’s Historic Election To Congress

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was a force to be reckoned with. Fifty years later, the country is remembering her historic election as the first African American woman to serve in Congress. This, in a time when the country is seeing a historic rise in women being elected to political office.

During a 1983 speech Chisholm said, “I think it’s important that as we look around ourselves in the room today, there are so many complex complicated problems. And the time has come that somehow we must be able to utilize our creative energies on a positive manner and work together for the remediation of the human condition. It matters not whether you are white or black, whether you are male or female but that if you have special talents and aptitudes and abilities that these collective talents and abilities should be utilized by all of us in order to try and help make this world a better place in which to live.” Thanks to the brilliant, feisty, bold, unapologetic “unbought and unbossed” Chisholm, we’ve come a long way in the fight for a more just and equal world, but the fight is far from over.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) the organizer of the, “Unbought and Unbossed: A Forum Honoring the Life and Legacy of Shirley Chisholm,”  said, “Fifty years after Representative Chisholm became the first black woman in Congress, she continues to inspire women to push the boundaries.” She’s right. Sheroes have been shaping the world since the beginning of time and thanks to these efforts they’re getting the credit and recognition they deserve.

Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

The event was co-hosted by the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-21), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9). The women gathered at the event spoke about Chisholm’s legacy and influence on policy priorities in Congress and pledged to continue her fight for civil rights, gender equality, lifting families out of poverty, and improving our democracy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer remarks on Shirley Chisholm: 

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” ― Shirley Chisholm

 

15th Annual Mohawk Valley Latino Association Gala

It’s that time again! The 15th Annual Mohawk Valley Latino Association Gala is happening this Saturday.  This year’s theme is Hispanics: One Endless Voice to Enhance our Traditions 

WHO: Mohawk Valley Latino Association 

WHAT: 15th Annual Gala

WHEN:  Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 5:30-11:00PM

WHERE: Yahnundasis Golf Club, 8639 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford

WHY: To celebrate Hispanic Heritage and honor local community members

 

 

This year’s celebration will culminate the 2018 annual Hispanic Heritage month events for MVLA.  There will be live entertainment by award winning musical group Alex Torres & Orchestra. This event is truly special for the Association because it serves as a formal occasion for members of the Latino community to learn from each other, while welcoming other members of the community who are not Latino. The gala is always a great gathering and learning experience with networking opportunities for everyone. A special thanks goes to Dr. Martin Morell & Mrs. Zaida Morell, The Fitness Mill Carbone Athletics, and MIS Interpreting Services. Sponsors of this year’s event include Roser Communications Networks  (KISS FM 97.9, 99.1/101.1 BUG COUNTRY & WUTQ 100.7 FM), CNY Latino, YWCA Mohawk Valley, AmeriCU Credit Union, Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, MVP Health, Adirondack Bank, United Healthcare, Jose Perez, Esq., Bank of Utica, Price Chopper Supermarkets, and the Mohawk Valley Latino Association.

The Mohawk Valley Latino Association was established to improve the standards of living for Latino residents of the Mohawk Valley through various services that will educate and empower them to achieve their goals and to also raise awareness amongst the different cultures of the Mohawk Valley. The mission is to help shape the minds of our youth and demonstrate to them the great opportunities available within the Mohawk Valley and our nation. For more information, visit www.mvlautica.org or email us at  mvla@mvlautica.org, calls can be made to 315-864-8419. Ticket prices are $75.00 per person and are available at www.mvlautica.org or by calling 315-864-8419.

 

Google Doodle: Veterans Day 2018

#VeteransVoices

 

“Today in America we honor our veterans. We celebrate the boldness of your convictions, and for the future you made possible. We will never forget it was you who stepped forward when we needed you most. We are humbled by your service, and we are forever grateful for your courage. From Korea to Kandahar, Perryville to Pearl Harbor, D-Day to Desert Storm. To these sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. To these brave men and women. These heroes. We remember, and we say thank you.”

 

U.S. Resistance Returning Nazi Looted Art Resurrects Old Wounds

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

In a crowded media world the topic of Nazi looted art has taken comfort on the back burner of the national debate circuit. But things are changing and the push to return art plundered by the Nazis is gaining momentum and more of the world’s attention.

A ruling in July by U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC sided with Jewish heirs of the Welfenschatz art collection looted by Nazis in 1935. The ruling follows Germany’s attempts to dismiss the case claiming, among other things, immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, (FSIA). Nonetheless, the district court rejected Germany’s arguments and denied their motion to dismiss the case.

And, hard to believe, Donald J. Trump played a small role in the push to bring justice to remaining Holocaust survivors. In the gloom of his support for American Nazis who marched in the Charlottesville rally, the president signed the Just Act into law in May of this year; about nine months after calling anti-Semitic, white separatists chanting “Jews will not replace us,” very fine people.The Just Act is another statute requiring the State Department to report on the progress of European efforts to return artworks stolen nearly 70 years ago.

Still, this question lingers: is the U.S. doing enough to return its own Nazi-looted art kept in high brow institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art? No, says Raymond J. Dowd, who serves on the Board of Governors of the National Arts Club and the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association. Sighting a 2014 report by the World’s Jewish Restitution Organization, (WJRO) Dowd says, “The United States is not in the group of countries that are doing the right thing.” He says despite established laws laying out the process and groundwork of returning art forcibly taken from Jews, even deeming the taking a form of genocide, only a small fraction of stolen art has been returned to its rightful owners.

Dowd, who lectures on legal and ethical matters related to Nazi art looting, represented the heirs of Fritz Grumbaum, a renowned art collector who died at the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

“It’s still our public policy in the United States that this property should go back to the people from whom it was stolen. The Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, Congress reaffirmed that.” So why did the U.S. end up with so much Nazi looted art in our museums? Dowd says, “We have to take a hard look at American museums and our cultural traditions to understand why.” He says it started with J.P. Morgan who, for tax purposes, refused to move his large European art collection to put in U.S. museums. Being one of the wealthiest men in America, Congress obliged and enacted the Payne-Aldrich Tarrif Act of 1909. “And that Act added imports of original artworks from Europe that were more than 20 years old to the duty free list. So, that paved the way for the creation of some of our greatest museums.” Dowd says even Andrew Mellon legally challenged his tax bill by pointing to the vast art collection he donated to the National Gallery as reason to reduce his tax obligation.

“Mr. Mellon’s victory is enshrined in today’s tax code that says you get a fair market value deduction for a work of art regardless of what you paid for it. The significance over most of the 20th century is that if you’re wealthy you could avoid capital gains tax by donating to a museum and thus shelter all of your income from taxation.”

Dowd says it’s an ethical and social choice being made to help rich Americans shelter their incomes in museums. And although it led to America acquiring extraordinary art collections, it’s an unjust system. “When we think about tax fairness, people who give to museums are not giving to others in our community; they’re not paying for schools or housing or roads and most of the things that other people in the middle class are paying for.”

The tax loophole may be legal but it becomes problematic when stolen art, which doesn’t get properly scrutinized, is donated. “Particularly when we see that today in America there are more museums than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.” Despite early declarations of nations not taking part in stolen art transactions, Holocaust survivors and their heirs are still searching for their plundered art, many of which are hanging in American museums.

According to Art Law Gallery an estimated 300,000 Nazi looted artworks are still missing today.

 

The Mohawk Valley Is Coming Together To Honor The Queen Of Soul

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Rehearsal for the upcoming Aretha Franklin Tribute is in full swing as performers and show producers on an up-tempo beat, work to show their love and appreciation for the Queen of Soul. The show is being directed and produced by local community leader and director, Grady Faulkner. Adding sprinkles to this treat is Show Time, a popular local band, stepping up to the plate to help Faulkner put together a great show.

In addition to honoring one of the greatest singers the world has ever known, the show is also intended to support the College Community Connection, (C3) program at Mohawk Valley Community College, (MVCC). It’s a strategic partnership initiative aimed at helping struggling students reach their learning goals.

 

 

WHO: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul

WHAT: A tribute

WHY: Honoring the life and accomplishments of one of the greatest soulful singers the world has ever known.

WHEN: November 5, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: MVCC in Utica, NY

Tickets are $20 for the general public and $15 for MVCC students and staff. Proceeds will support the C3 program. Tickets can be purchased at: www.mvcc.edu or by calling (315) 792-5400.

 

NBC Today: Megyn Kelly And The Awakening Of America

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

“Another one bites the dust,” as the saying goes and NBC Today host Megyn Kelly just bit a mouthful of it. Her comments dismissing the racist undertones of wearing blackface was just too much for her new NBC family to take, leading to her show “Megyn Kelly Today” being cancelled. This isn’t Kelly’s first time dancing with racist based controversy though. Kelly’s attitude, hostile political and social views she hotly defended during her time at Fox News has always been transparent to those it was aimed at; minorities. It’s always been hard for Kelly to see this demographic from her white privilege perch. She proudly chastised those she disagreed with politically and socially—regularly—on Fox News Channel alongside fellow haters; Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Carlson Tucker. America, including NBC, know who Megyn Kelly is; a staunch conservative with audacious white supremacist leaning views.

Kelly, on her all knowing perch, claimed Santa Clause and even Jesus Christ from the Middle East are white, and going even further by making the distinction that, “some people want Santa Clause to be black but he’s just not, OK kids,” she says looking straight into the camera as if sending comfort to all the frightened white children in America concerned a black Santa could come down their chimney on Christmas. Kelly publicly shamed Jane Fonda after an uncomfortable appearance on her show about plastic surgery by reaching so far back to her “Hanoi Jane” days to clap back at her for taking issue with her aggressive questions. It was, simply put; mean, petty and highly unprofessional. Kelly got to enjoy her privilege wholeheartedly in this gross display of bad behavior. NBC didn’t bad an eye. Can you imagine if Tamron Hall did that? And remember feisty Soledad O’Brien? She lost her CNN show real quick the minute she got comfortable in her power. The difference in how one is treated or “handled” is clear and has been since America’s birth. Kelly also validated hateful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by giving him a comfy seat on her perch despite the outcry from his victims, particularly the grieving parents of the Sandy Hook massacre. Her unapologetic mean spirited conduct is used to gain the upper hand in ratings despite the damaging effects her rhetoric has on the collective culture. This is what white privilege looks and feels like.

“But was it racist?” Kelly asked feigning ignorance about Real House Wives of New York’s Luann de Lesseps wearing blackface with her Dianna Ross costume during the segment that got her show canceled. Yes, it was racist Megyn. Exactly as Roland Martin pointed out to you here in this clip. Nevertheless, the birth of blackface is merely a node on America’s black body dehumanizing highway. I’m always led back to one of the most prolific orator of our times, James Baldwin, when it comes to race relations in America. You see Megyn, Baldwin left America for France with only $40 in his pocket because as he puts it, “…nothing worse could happen to me there that hadn’t already happened to me here.” He was talking about social terror. The social terror he endured from his own country by people just like you who don’t care to see the racism and inequality dividing and defining our country … because it benefits you. Wearing blackface is stoking the same social terrors Baldwin talked about. And that’s exactly what you’ve done for years.

Kelly benefits from the social institutions that still keep blacks and other minorities subservient to whites. History, including NBC’s selection of “Fox News Kelly” over their own internal employee, Hall,  supports this assertion. And Kelly has defended this privilege all while blaming black victims of police brutality like Philando Castile and Michael Brown of their own murders. NBC knew this when they chose her over Hall. It’s difficult to have it both ways peacock; hiring a person who clearly embraces hostile social views dipped in intolerance, and then feigning shock when the person performs accordingly. It’s like buying a pet snake and expecting it not to bite you because you feed it.

Powerful institutions like NBC have a fine line to walk when it comes to these hotly debated and sensitive national issues. When it comes to Megyn Kelly, the network brought fire and water to the larger debate on race relations; they added fire when they hired Kelly and are using water to try and save face today. One can only hope that the network heeds the words from one of its own employees, NABJ President, Sarah Glover in her statement addressing the matter, “Megyn Kelly’s flip comments on blackface were inexcusable. It is imperative that media organizations work to maintain the trust of audiences. The media industry has the power to inform, and an awesome responsibility to dispel ignorance and not encourage it.” How the media embraces this awesome responsibility as we progress into an uncertain future with a degenerate leader at the helm will be determined by their stakeholders. Let’s hope they care enough about advancing the idealism of America and our collective humanity Today.

Melania Trump: When Your Frock Serves The White Power Agenda

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Make no mistake, though not your typical FLOTUS, Melania Trump is making blaring and uncomfortable statements with her wardrobe. Through her frocks she’s letting us all know who she is, what she values and supports; white supremacy and intolerance. And this tea is being served on the world’s stage.

Her “I Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket wasn’t even subliminal. It was a blaring truth about her husband’s humanity, something she wholeheartedly aligns with just like birtherism; the conspiracy theory surrounding Barack Obama’s birth certificate. And, standing in staunch support of him when he called for the Central Park Five’s execution; minority men later cleared of raping a white woman in 1989. Her latest outfit “oops, I did it again” moment was another attempt to send a powerful message. This time, the memo went out to the world from the belly of humanity; Africa. “Melanie,” as her husband refers to her when his Twitter fingers get tired, dressed like the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Seriously. 

As a nation beholden to improving humanity we must put aside the easy mockery of this ridiculous outdated frock disguised as style and dig deeper into the dangerous dog whistle it’s blowing. Keep in mind, the first lady’s solo visit comes on the heels of an international campaign to perpetuate the myth of “white genocide” in South Africa. According to Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) the misleading outcry from South Africa’s alt-right is reaching its intended purpose; fanning the flames of racism. And Donald Trump is making matters even worse when he takes to social media, irresponsibly feeding the myth by instructing his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to look into “the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” SPLC’s Justin Ward writes, “Collaborations between the racist “alt-right” and their South African counterparts have ramped up.” Whether the aloof and out of touch first lady’s visit confirms this or not, her attire and attempt to impersonate a racist colonizer only feeds this narrative. And it’s a bold move from the Trump crime family.

“He broke every rule, every traditional concept with extraordinary success. In a civilization based upon reason and knowledge, he introduced absurdity and unreality, and cultivated insanity among the masses as a dedicated scientist would a bacteria growth,” wrote Chandler Brossard in The Insane World of Adolf Hitler.

History is repeated itself right in front of our eyes. But we’re too mesmerized and hypnotized, leading hyper-connected fast paced lives to work together to save the world from Trump and his ilk. Trump should scare the hell out of us like Freddy Kruger in a corn field but we’re too numb or afraid to fight back hard like former Attorney General Eric Holder recently suggested, “When they go low, we kick ‘em”.  If We The People don’t stand up and fight to take back our country, our indifference and disconnection to our sacred belief of being keepers of one another and mother earth, allows “Melanie” to use her frocks as alt-right dog whistles. Similar to the boldface and unapologetic lying, tax cheating from Trump and his staff, and the “OK” finger sign some in his circle are using, including Zina Bash during Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing, to openly express white power unity. The end game is to take us back to a time when America was great for whites only.

Now, they’ve taken this messaging to the global market place. It came beautifully wrapped too. Melania Trump dressed like a colonial era figure, posing like the rich entitled white woman she is, while being courted by Africans on safari. Images are powerful. They convey emotions and capture moments in time that highlight our humanity and the world we live in. The first lady’s Nazi like outfit did just that.

That’s where you can go with the colonizer getup.

These are frightening times … and it’s not even Halloween yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brett Kavanaugh: America’s Privileged Good Ol’ Boy Demands His Due; A Supreme Court Seat!

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

One did it as their civic duty, the other as their defense against a terrible sex crime. And GOP Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee want us to pretend we didn’t see the blaring truth during the hearing; that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a rotten person. One who led a life currently catching up to him at the peak of what should be the greatest honor of his professional life. If karma could be picked out of a crowd, it would look like the sniffling, bombastic image of a lying man we all saw following the testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of attempted rape when they were both teenagers 36 years ago.

Ford’s testimony was not just credible, it was impactful. And that impact is still rippling across America, encouraging many to speak their own truth about sexual assault. The angry senators not courageous enough to treat Ford equally and respectfully, in step with the social movements of our times, are doing more damage to our country and culture in their sunset years that may take another civil war to settle. It’ll be a fight they won’t be around for, and with their wealth, ensure their sons and daughters won’t have to fight either. The spectacle surrounding the Kavanaugh hearing is yet another reminder that the most out of touch Americans, remain the most powerful, making culture shaking political moves that largely impact a demographic on shaky grounds; the average American forced to live (and give) on a minimum wage not one of these power wielding old white men could, or have ever been forced to survive on.

We the people have gone from movement to movement to bring about change; positive change.  And this moment being led by women and supportive men is no different. Unfortunately, some who claim to be leaders for their people are instead the barriers of our inevitable social justice evolution taking root. In other words, a gang of old white rich men are forcing their will upon us like Kavanaugh allegedly did to Ford.

“I remember their laughter … I was underneath one of them while the two laughed,” Dr. Ford testified, adding, “Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life.” And yet, despite her powerful testimony, GOP Senators saw fit to throw a fit to shield their good ol’ boy, “Bart.” And Donald Trump, aka “Cult 45” boarding Air Force One yesterday with what looks like toilet paper on his shoes kept his special kind of crazy exactly as is; going from being sympathetic to Ford, and quickly turning to feed his cult members a basket of undignified mockery of an alleged sex assault victim at one of his strange rally’s. I can only hope the toilet paper on his shoes is God’s way of telling the world; don’t worry, I got this.

But are we really in good hands?  The Senate held a procedural vote on Judge Kavanaugh today. The angry, dismissive old man gang is moving ahead despite the lies Kavanaugh told under oath. They’re defending his temperament, his disrespect and blatant partisanship by rewarding him for his good ol’ boy loyalty with a Supreme Court seat. It’s clear they need his vote to protect their larger agenda and grip on power. Today they voted 51 to 49 to move the procedural vote to a final one. If confirmed, angry “Bart” could be cloaked and seated by next week.

 

Trump’s Smite On The Arts In America

Editors Note: This piece was also featured in DCReport.

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Taking a deeper look at two more of Donald Trump’s nominees for the National Arts Council, having examined the other two in this recent article.

Barbara Coleen Long is the wife of Rep. Billy Long (R-Missouri) who lists his top policy issue as “Conservative values.”  A 20-year search of the Nexis news database turns up not a single mention before her before her July 12 nomination to this prestigious federal advisory board.

The nominee is unknown in the national arts world or even in her own small community of Springfield, other than as someone who attends local performances. Indeed, prior to July 12, the day Trump nominated her, we could not find a single news report mentioning her. Leslie Forrester, executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council, said that although she isn’t familiar with Long she supports her nomination. “Congressman Long and his family have been involved in the arts. They’ve been involved in our local community theater, local cinema and others. They’ve been patrons of the arts for a very long time and we certainly count them as allies in terms of advocacy work as well,” Forrester said.

“I have not had the opportunity yet to meet Mrs. Long but I think that having her representation coming from a mid-western state and coming from a smaller community and understanding what is happening in the arts and in rural Missouri as well as our metro area will be beneficial because there are lots of great arts things happening  outside of metro areas and continuing that kind of representation at the national level will ensure that the National Endowment for the Arts is able to fully engage with the arts at all levels,” Forrester said.

If the Longs were truly allies in Springfield’s art community, Forrester would have been familiar with her, but she’s not. The city population is 167,000 and the metro area only 550,000 people, small enough that people engaged in any broad field of activity tend to be known by the leaders in specific fields, like the arts. Rep. Long makes his conservative views crystal clear on his congressional website — he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. So unless the Longs live in a house divided, it’s logical to surmise his wife holds similar conservative view points.

That made me wonder about what she would think of “Piss Christ,” a 1987 creation of photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a small glass tank of the artist’s urine. It won a Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s Award in the Visual Arts. The competition, in Winston-Salem, N.C.,  was sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Considering Long’s family stance on morality, the question then must be; will she support art deemed controversial? Or is her nomination a signal of the type of country Trump wants to create, one that shares his philistine views on arts and culture?

The fourth nominee is Michelle Itzcak, a board certified, registered art therapist and a licensed mental health counselor in Indiana. What she will contribute to the national arts scene is anyone’s guess. How did Itczak get nominated, being relatively unknown in her own town’s art scene? Even Jeremy Efroymson, a major name in the Indianapolis art scene, declined to comment. “Thanks but I’m not interested in commenting,” he said. People named to federal boards usually have track records that get them into the news. So we did a Nexis news database search for all English language news going back 20 years to find news reports prior to the July 12 appointment by Trump. Here is the entire file on Itczak from the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, first from a story in 2010:

Michelle Itczak has resigned from her position as South Vermillion’s girls soccer coach to work at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Itczak will begin an art therapy program at Riley. And there is this from a story six years ago on a group dynamics: In the conflict resolution workshop, the participants discussed how to avoid mismanaging conflicts to avoid more damage. “If handled positively, I believe conflict is an opportunity to grow,” said session leader Michelle Itczak, an adjunct professor in SMWC’s Master of Art in Art Therapy Program. “Overcoming those challenges can build trust and strengthen relationships.” And from the Indianapolis Star that same year: “Art is a positive outlet for anyone, but particularly incarcerated individuals because it is a nonviolent way for them to express themselves,” said Michelle Itczak, a board-certified registered art therapist, licensed mental health counselor and president of the Indiana Art Therapy Association.

The only other published report we could find was from the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette in 2012: Every week, Katherine travels to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis so medicine can be put into her blood. And that’s where she met Michelle Itczak. Itczak is an art therapist who helps children. She urged Katherine to start drawing and painting on the days she had her treatments. Whatever Trump’s, or more likely his staff’s, reasoning for selecting these four nominees to sit on the National Council for the Arts is anyone’s guess but we don’t have to dig too deep when it comes to understanding His Shallowness and the arts. There’s no mystery to Trump. He’s all about worshipping him and money.

When Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, passed away this week, many took note of her  stirring performances and her  2015 Kennedy Center Honors, which brought President Obama to tears. Not Donald Trump. He reduced her decades of contributions to the arts as one of the greatest singers the world has ever known to this: “she worked for me.”

Trump; the only president to deliberately skip the Kennedy Center honors that are arguably America’s most important evening for the arts, doesn’t care about the arts. His selections seem to fit this pattern.