Conservative Icon Defends My First Amendment Right and Together We Give a Lesson On Civil Discourse.
Last week was to say the least - surreal. My painting "The Truth" has once again created a media circus, drawing fire from the Religious Right demanding I remove it from display at Boston's Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery where it's currently part of the "Artists On The Stump - The Road To The White House 2012" exhibition. This kind of craziness is nothing new for me. The hysteria has happened before, when four years ago I announced I would debut the painting at New York City’s Union Square, Unfortunately, thousands of hate filled emails and threats of bussed in protestors convinced me to acquiesce to my family's wish that I cancel the exhibit for my own safety.
There was however, one thing that happed last week that I couldn't see coming in a million years. Through the firestorm of controversy over my painting the one person to come to my defense was the person I would least expect ... Glenn Beck, the Grand Jester of conservatism. We are, no doubt, the oddest of odd couples. My liberal leaning art generally outrages conservatives, and no one has drawn the ire of liberals more than Glenn Beck. Yet in his own grandiloquent way, the conservative rebel rouser devoted a show to defending this liberal artist's first amendment right. He also afforded me the opportunity on his show to air my thoughts and show my art. And then something even more surrealistic happened. After a little bit of a rough start, two people with diametrically opposed political perspectives, whose work might have helped fuel the country's divisive atmosphere, demonstrated that we can engage in respectful and civil discourse. It really shouldn't be considered significant, but in the current political environment it's an example that a lot of our elected and religious leaders, pundits and the American public in general would do well take notice of. It's one small step for civility, if not unity.
You might think it's hypocritical for two men whose work has helped raise blood pressures and spread the partisan condition to admonish people for suffering from it. Glenn took responsibility for his roles on the show suggesting in essence that he and I do what we do as a way to wake people up and get them involved in discussing the issues, and admitted that unfortunately it sometimes pushes the conversation to an ugly place.
Some say my painting is a destructive influence but if it was the impetus for the opportunity to show the world (or a least subscribers to Mr. Beck's program) that in the midst of all the hysteria, two politically opposing forces can come together to carry on a civil discourse, I say maybe something good came from my painting after all.
You can watch the complete interview on my Press page.
We've all been warned about the looming fiscal cliff. During the campaign, the Republicans would often point to a clock counting off to the moment of our economic apocalypse. That may be a bombastic way to hype a self-inflicted financial disaster. But it is true that if the Republicans and Democrats can't come to some sort of compromise by December 31, we will be in a economic pickle of no one's liking.
And there's that word - compromise. It's an important one. I even snuck it in the title of this blog. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated Democrats do it. Unfortunately, 95% of the Republicans in office have signed a pledge to a lobbyist named Grover not to compromise when it comes to raising taxes. That means not agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans if the top 2% don’t get to keep them. They'll tell you that it’s because without the lower tax rate, "job creators" won't be able to create jobs. It seems to me that the job creators created a lot more jobs without it under the Clinton administration than they have since. But the real reason is because if they renege on their pledge to the Great and Powerful Grover, he will not allocate any money to their next campaign. After all, they want to save jobs … their own. Unfortunately, that stubbornness has created the gridlock that has downgraded our economic status and stalled our recovery.
Since the election hasn't really gone their way, the GOP are beginning realize that the people aren't particularly fond of gridlock. As more people become aware of their subservient relationship with the lobbyist, some key Republicans are subtly starting to distance themselves from Grover. As an artist, I've tried to do my part to help that process along with my painting "Who The Hell Is Grover Norquist?" Do your part and pass it around. Let's convince the Republican leaders to lead instead of following a lobbyist like junkies to their dealer. It might put them in a more "compromising" position.
As seen on GlobalGrind http://globalgrind.com/news/lets-give-thanks-our-first-illegal-immigrants-michael-dantuono-blog
With Thanksgiving approaching, we all look forward to eating turkey as we celebrate the pilgrims’ first feast with the indigenous people of the land. As I dreamed of stuffing and cranberry sauce, it occurred to me that the pilgrims were actually this continents first group of immigrants. It may be somewhat hypocritical to admire the pilgrims yet resent current day immigrants when you consider that most of us wouldn’t be here today if the native Americans had asked to see our ancestors' documentation. I'm quite sure the irony doesn't begin to enter their minds of us patriotic “Americans” as we sit down to enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey. The ability to trace one's bloodline to a Mayflower passenger has always a major point of pride. Never mind that these people and their following generations eventually took their hosts lives and land, leaving the descendants of the few survivors nothing but a few casinos. We proudly celebrate our genocidal ancestors accomplishments. But hey, the stuffing and yams taste better when you don’t think about it too much. This hypocrisy was the inspiration for my painting (shown above) “Illegal Immigration”.
I’m not suggesting you put down that drumstick. There’s nothing we can do about the transgressions of the past, but maybe if didn’t sugarcoat our own heritage, we wouldn’t feel so self-righteous when considering immigration reform. Maybe it’s our own past that scares us. Maybe we’re afraid that the current immigrants will do to us what we did to the Indians. Could those undocumented workers watching our kids, and doing our lawns be planning to take back California and New Mexico?
So as you sit down to your turkey this year, take a moment to consider the current crop of immigrants, just looking for a better life like the pilgrims had. Be thankful that your ancestors were given that opportunity and be humbled by how they approached it.
An Open Letter To The Former Maverick
You have been a true American war hero, a maverick and a respected senator. That's a lifetime of achievements any mothers' son would be proud of. I always hoped you would someday run for President … until you did. You kinda lost me at Sarah Palin. But even then, the maverick briefly reappeared during a Presidential debate when you meritoriously corrected a woman who basically confused Obama with Osama.
Unfortunately, that was the last we ever saw of the old maverick. The reach across the aisle McCain was sadly, forever after replaced by crotchety partisan McCain. I always thought you learned your lesson after Bush defeated you in the 2000 primaries and were just acting like Rush Limbaugh's unreasonable twin to get elected in 2008. Well John, that election and the one after that one are over. President Obama beat you fair and square. He beat Mitt fair and square. It's been eight years. You have to let it go.
Like I said, I've always admired you, which is what makes me so sad seeing you devolve into such a petty partisan. Your recent attack on Ambassador Rice and calling for Watergate-type hearings regarding the Benghazi incident is over the top and beneath the man you once were. You're starting to make Michelle Bachman look sane by comparison. It's time to stop the grumpy old man act, pick up your remote and shut off FOX. It seems like your actually buying the snake oil their selling. I expect the uncivil arrogance of crazy conspiracy theories and party above country agendas from insipid right-wing mean girls like Palin and Bachman, but not from someone who once stood so tall above it all. Sadly, the maverick has been broken. It's time for the man who once reached across the aisle to create campaign finance reform to stop tarnishing your credibility and reputation with these partisan attacks or quietly go off to pasture. If you won’t do it for the country, do it for your own legacy.
A former fan
The President Could Win With Just These Two Words
Apparently the old ad man in me still works in my sleep because after watching the President's speech at the Democratic Convention last night, I woke up with my own campaign slogan for Barack that succinctly nails the fundamental difference between the two camps in just two words … "OBAMA CARES". The Republicans tried to turn the Affordable Health Care Act into something negative by derisively coining it "Obama Care." All the President’s people have to do is add one simple 'S' to turn it back into a positive and powerful umbrella campaign. I can see it as a bumper sticker or as a call and response in a speech. It would go something like this:
"The difference between the President and the Republicans when it comes to affordable healthcare for all is … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to the environment … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to protecting women's rights … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to your right to love whom you choose … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to protecting senior's entitlements … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to our veterans … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to improving students' education … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to protecting the middle class … OBAMA CARES!
When it comes to you … OBAMA CARES!"
Does my slogan imply that the Republicans don't care as much? Yes, but it's subtle. More subtle than their own party platform which reduces the rights and increases the burdens of the majority in no uncertain terms.
So, Obama campaign manager listen to me. It's time for a quick change. Start printing the posters and bumper stickers. I hope you are listening … because I care.