The key points in the NEA phone call

I thought I’d assemble for you in one place the key points in the NEA phone call, showing that the White House itself directed the call’s organizers to use the National Endowment for the Arts (a publicly funded government organization) as a means to fund like-minded artists to create political propaganda for the benefit of the President’s partisan political positions.  You can find the whole transcript here, with the relevant parts highlighted.  All emphasized and interlineated text is mine.


[7:7-15]  SKOLNIK [the call’s host]:  This is Mike Skolnik.  I am based in New York.  I am a film maker for the past ten years but currently serve as the political director for Russell Simmons.  [From Wikipedia:  “Russell Wendell Simmons (born October 4, 1957 in Queens, New York), is an American entrepreneur, the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, founder of another label, Russell Simmons Music Group, and creator of the clothing fashion line Phat Farm.”  I leave you to figure out why he needs as political director.]

I have been asked by folks in the White House and folks in the NEA about a month ago in a conversation that was had.  We had the idea that I would help bring together the independent artists community around the country. [Either Skolnik is a self-serving liar trying to puff up his credentials or he’s actually stating a fact:  the White House initiated this call.  Given the it is an official NEA call, there’s reason to believe the statement is true.]


[8:2-9:18] SKOLNIK:  I want to start off by saying a few things, and then we will have some people in Washington from the NEA and United We Serve speak to us, and we’ll have a chance for questions and comments and discussions afterwards.  I think this it’s [sic] clear, and I heard somebody from Shepard Fairey’s team [Shepard Fairey, of course, created the famous “HOPE” poster, the most successful political poster in modern times] introduce themselves, and I think Shepard and the Hope poster obviously is a great example [a great example of using art for political purposes?], but it’s clear as an independent art community as artists and thinkers and tastemakers and marketers and visionaries on this call, the role that we played during the campaign for the president and also during his first 200 some odd days of his presidency and the president has a clear arts agenda and has been very supportive of using art and supporting art in creative ways to talk about some of the issues that we face here in our country and also to engage people.  [That was one of the most disorganized, run-on sentences I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, but the message is clear:  we artists helped the president get elected, and he’s now using our skills to push his agenda on the country.]

And I think all of us who are on this phone call were selected for a reason [one wonders who did the selecting?], and you are the ones that lead by example in your communities.  You are the thought leaders.  [And here I thought they were just artists.]  You are the ones that, if you create a piece of art or promote a piece of art or create a campaign for a company, and tell our country and our young people sort of what to do and what to be in to; and what’s cool and what’s not cool. [Translation:  You have the power to mold young minds so that they embrace the President’s agenda.]

And so I’m hoping that through this group and the goal of all this and the goal of this phone call, is through this group that we can create a stronger community amongst ourselves to get involved in things that we passionate about as we did during the campaign but continue to get involved in those things, to support some of the president’s initiatives, but also to do things that we are passionate about and to push the president and push his administration.  [Is this a good time to remind all of you again that the NEA, as a publicly funded organization, is supposed to be non-partisan?  Is it also a good time to remind you that, at the call’s beginning, Skolnik was clear that the impetus for this call came from within the White House?]

And the first thing that I thought we could all come together on and begin this colletive of arts around the country was United We Serve or is United We Serve [sic]  [United We Serve is the White House supervised, nationalized version of community organizing], and United We Serve is the president’s call to the country to get engaged in meaningful community service. . . .


[10:9-19]  NELL ABERNATHY [“outreach director” for United We Serve]:  We actually were lucky enough to get someone who I’m going to introduce first which is Buffy Wicks with the Office of Public Engagement. who I’m sure many of you know from the campaign.  [Wicks also has strong ACORN and SEIU connections, which might be another story, but isn’t, because the SEIU, ACORN and the Obama administration are rapidly proving themselves to be one and the same.  Also, what’s this “campaign” talk?  Isn’t this supposed to be about ART?]  She was a huge champion of getting the arts community involved on the campaign and also has been one of the people who spearheaded this initiative from the beginning.


[10:23-12:21]  WICKS:  I’m ‘m honored to be on the call, and I just, you  know, it’s been a long road I know for a lot of us, and we’re really just beginning.  I, first of all, want to thank everyone for being on the call and really just a deep, deep appreciation for all the work that you all put into the campaign for the two plus years that we all worked together.  [In other words, this is not an ordinary NEA call.  This is a recovening of seasoned campaign operatives on the NEA’s — read:  the taxpayers’ — dime.]  I was the field director in California so I hear my L.A. peeps out there, so it’s exciting to hear those voices.

And, you know, we won and that’s exciting, and now we have to take all that energy and make it really meaningful.  I’m in the White House now [another sign that the White House is the unseen hand directing this use of public funds for partisan purposes] and what I’ve learned over these first — we just had our 200 mark on Saturday, which sounds crazy, is that it’s — that change does not come easy and, you know, when then Candidate Obama would say that it’s like, yeah, I know change doesn’t come easy [I can’t figure out here who is more banal and inarticulate:  Wicks or Obama], but then now that I’m actually in the White House and working towards furthering this agenda, this very aggressive agenda, I’m really realizing that, and I’m also appreciative of the way in which we did win and the strategy that the campaign shows, which is really to engage people at a local level and to engage them in the process, because we need them and we need you, and we’re going to need your help, and we’re going to come at you with some specific asks here. [Translation:  we have specific White House dictated propaganda directives for you, the publicly funded artist community of America.]

But we know that you guys are ready for it and eager to participate, so one we want to thank you, and two, I hope you guys are ready.  So I’m at the Office of Public Engagement here at the White House.  Our office does a lot of outreach to communities all across the country either by constituency groups or by issue. We have about 20 folks and we work under Valerie Jarrett, she’s one of our fantastic leaders and Tina Chen.  [To refresh your recollection, Valerie Jarrett is Obama’s consigliere and, one suspects, the woman who really makes up this petticoat government.]  And so we’re really here at your disposal and we want to be helpful to you.  And as part of my role here is working on service, and so when we were thinking about how do we take a lot of this energy that’s out there, how do we translate folks who have just been engaged in electoral politics and engage them in really the process of governing, of being part of this administration in a little bit of a different way because politics is one thing and governing is something totally separate, we really saw service as the platform by which we can do that.   [Let me say here again:  what makes this little speech so very wrong is that the vehicle being used for it is an ostensibly non-partisan, publicly funded organization meant to help art reach the masses.  When I was growing up, that meant opera, ballet and old canvases.  Now it means using Progressive trend-setters to get public money to create government propaganda.]


[13:3-9] WICKS [and the heads-up here is that she’s spelling out the fact that United We Serve is not about strengthening America, but is about pushing a Leftist agenda]:  We wanted folks to connect  with local nonprofit organizations in their  community.  We wanted them to connect with local city council members or local elected officials.  We wanted them to connect with federal agencies, with labor unions, progressive groups, face groups, women’s groups, you name it.

[More to follow as I have the time.]

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  • vanderleun

    Great work and very valuable, but it also points out why this story won’t have one 20th the impact as the Acorn series. Takes too long to explain and underline.

    We not only need better examples we need ones with impact.

  • Ymarsakar

    Come on, all the wing nuts know that the Republicans are better at corruption than Democrats.