My wife and I discuss how I am against government funding of art. It's not that I dislike art. I love it. I've even donated to a private dance group. I think it's the wonder of humanity that separates us from the animals. It is the expression of the human condition. Good art can make you cry, smile and feel alive. What I dislike is taxpayer money being handed to artists because it eventually comes with strings attached. All funding money to one degree or another comes with strings whether private or public. The scary part is when it is the from the folks who makes laws and have the power to jail. This is rather lame that the White House in August was so desperate to reframe the health care and cap 'n' trade debates that they enlisted artists that rely on them for funding. Keep in mind the message is not to show both sides of the debate through art but to show the 'good side'. Wonder where the NY Times was on this one? Probably talking about bikini waxes for men again.
What is scary is if a far more sinister leader would do with this. This is why the precedent is bad. Other countries have done this. Here's a list: Venezuela, the USSR, Cuba, Nazi Germany. What if a honest Joe type of politician from the Mountain States or South took the wheel and drummed up a war with a foreign enemy that had enough of a population in America to warrant internal surveillance (like a hyper drug war with Mexican cartels). What if he wanted to get the message out and to his liking? Couldn't he co-opt the NEA and say "Y'all get your funding from us, so you might as well toe the line". Some artists would back away on principle, but some might strike a deal if it meant funding (Elia Kazan did in the '50s). It sets a dangerous precedent.