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July 14, 2007


A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

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July 14, 2007

Michael McNulty And Dick Cheney

Our congressional representative from the 21st District has been reinventing himself, but still hasn’t arrived

This past May The Wife and I caught Ralph Nader at the Spectrum Theater on Delaware Avenue, in town to flog the new biographical movie about his life, An Unreasonable Man. Whatever you think about him, Nader’s an amazing guy.

Among other things, in both the movie and during his more than hour long talk, he argued quite convincingly that his presidential candidacy in 2000 is not the reason why Al Gore lost the election. After all, Gore did win. Our political system failed, and we all allowed it to happen.

Nader’s big point was that the we, the standing room only crowd present that night at the Spectrum, were the ones who could prevent such nonsense from happening again. “How many of you here tonight,” he asked us, “spend one hundred hours a year trying to get your congress person to do the right things?”

Ralph Nader, From "Who Killed The Electric Car?" 2006
Ralph Nader, From "Who Killed The Electric Car?" 2006

I did some quick calculations in my head. How much time do I devote to irritating Michael McNulty each year?

Let’s see, there’s the letters, emails, and such. I sure have been known to spend a bit of time having emphatic discussions with other people about the guy. Let’s not forget my duties as a Democratic Committee Man, attending events where Michael McNulty is present and making sure that he notices me. And then there’s the decision every two years whether or not I should carry his qualifying petitions.

And there’s my blog. Does that count? Well, my very second post on this site was all about McNulty’s extremely reluctant vote against the bogus impeachment of then president Bill Clinton back in 1998. The post included this passage:

...McNulty was stringing together catch phrases and talking points that he had lifted directly from the corporate media, the same verbiage that we had all been subjected to for months. If you closed your eyes, McNulty almost sounded like a certain cowardly, lying AM radio talk show host who has an addiction to oxycontin.

Over the next month I heard several reports about how McNulty would be giving a speech. Then, at some point in the middle, apropos of nothing, he would start talking about how much he hated Rush Limbaugh.

How about that, huh? I’ll bet somebody in his office reads my blog. So yeah, I spent damn near a hundred hours last year annoying my congressional representative.

I shot up my hand and received a surprised look from Ralph Nader. I think that maybe three people total in the movie theater raised their hands. “See” Mr. Nader said, “presumably the people who came here tonight are the ones who are aware of current events. But look how few hands went up! Imagine how things would be if everyone of you spent a hundred hours a year influencing your congress person.”

Well, it has occurred to me that this year is more than half over and I have racked up no where near one hundred hours making Michael McNulty grind his teeth.

Michael McNulty
Michael McNulty

Part of the reason I’ve left him alone is that last year the man was frantically shedding his rad righty virtual Republican image and voting record. But that was before his reelection.

Way back in the pre-internet days of the 1990s, it made perfect sense for him to take precise orders from the corporate media. After all, his constituents had no other sources of information. The corporate media had the power to make or break him.

I will repeat a story I’ve told at least twice before. It needs to be repeated. Especially now that State Senator Joe Bruno is repeating a version of it.

I believe that it is extremely likely that for many years the Hearst owned Times Union exercised powerful control over Michael McNulty, directly giving him instructions.

Specifically, in all probability a character named Timothy O. White threatened to destroy McNulty in print if he did not behave and vote on the floor of Congress like a politically correct Republican clone. Which McNulty did, for many years.

It’s called “horse trading.” Timothy O. White eventually admitted on a witness stand that he made a career out of threatening politicians. And it was also established in court that his employers at Hearst condoned the practice.

Joe Bruno On The Rails
Joe Bruno On The Rails

Does the “Albany” Times Union still threaten politicians? Consider this passage from a recent article from the Troy Record that a reader of this blog pointed out (thanks, Corey.) It seems that no less a personage than Senator Joe Bruno, the most powerful Gop in the State, accused them of horse trading:

Bruno said a Times Union ad representative called the press office Tuesday, said he was sympathetic to the senator's bad coverage and told Spokesman Mark Hansen that buying an ad would be an "effective way to let the public know about the good things the senator is doing and to get across his side of the story."

Ha ha ha I love it when they whine. The current version of Timothy O. White of course denied everything:

Times Union Publisher Mark Aldam, in a statement, acknowledged an ad representative did call Bruno's office but only "as an opportunity to respond to the recent online advertising campaign by the New York State Democratic Committee." He denied there was an offer to trade good coverage for advertising revenue and maintains the news department is a distinctly separate entity from the advertising department.

Mark Aldam
Mark Aldam

Yes, certainly, you bet. Mark Aldam, like Timothy O. White did, sports the improbable job title of “publisher.” A more accurate title for both of them would be Commissar for the Corporation, the manager in charge of making sure that the corporate political agenda is kept ideologically pure in all printed and spoken content at all times. Not to mention shaking down politicians:

Hansen countered by saying, "I found the publisher's account of my conversation as inaccurate as the paper's reporting." He said the advertising representative, Gary Labelle, never told him anything about the online ads by the state Democrats and "made his pitch to sell ads in the context of his paper's negative coverage of the senator...

"The response of Publisher Mark Aldam is another example of twisted facts and distortions so common to the Times Union," Hansen said in a statement...

Meanwhile, Bruno Communication Director John McArdle, in a letter to [Albany County District Attorney David] Soares, requested the DA investigate Labelle for attempting to extort money from Bruno and the Senate.

These days, thanks to the internet, there are diverse ways not only for the content consumer to receive information, but now anybody can fact check in a matter of minutes. Corporate media outlets like the Hearst Times Union still twist the news and lie like pee-stained rugs, but these days they have to concoct their falsehoods with more circumspection. Competition often has that healthy effect on the marketplace.

And in the last year and a half we have a new and different Michael McNulty, one who somewhat more closely represents the convictions of his constituents instead of fearfully pandering to the corporate agenda. One can only conclude that he accurately believes that the Hearst boys and girls no longer have the power to break his political career.

As a sign of his independence from fear of the corporate media, about a year and a half ago McNulty did a complete about face on his original enthusiastic support for The White House’s War Against Iraq. He joined the then fledgling Out Of Iraq Caucus. He was also up for reelection. As a result, he won handily over token opposition.

At the time his reversal on The War was thought to be something big, but with the power of hindsight we know that he made a smart political move. He knew damn well that if he continued to support the Halliburton War of Profit he would have to fight desperately to keep his job. It’s got to be hard to campaign for office if you are afraid of angry people getting in your face every time you step outside your office.

Well, now that the election is over and tucked away, McNulty no longer has any incentive to fight to end the War. He refuses to join the growing movement to remove from position of authority the vile and demented Emperor of the United States, Sneering Dick Cheney. When asked why not, all he does is equivocate and obfuscate, as we can see in this recent letter to The Wife.


Dennis Kucinich, 2006
Dennis Kucinich, 2006

Last March 25, on a cold snowy day, presidential candidate and fellow congress person Dennis Kucinich came to Albany and delivered a long, rip-roaring speech at First Church in Albany on North Pearl Street. Despite a near blackout by the local corporate media, the big hall in the church was packed to overflowing, with audience standing in the hallway straining to hear the man.

I’m happy to say that The Wife recorded his speech. The sound in this mp3 link is a bit low at the beginning, but becomes clearer as Mr. Kucinich tears into his subject matter, and then boldly takes hard questions from the audience. I couldn’t help but be impressed. if you have an hour, take a listen:

Dennis Kucinich at First Church, N. Pearl St, Albany, March 25, 2007

Michael McNulty did not attend, not even offering a token appearance or statement of regret at missing the event. How odd that he would not show even minimal courtesy for a colleague and presidential contender. Clearly his absence was meant to be a calculated insult directed at Mr. Kucinich.

McNulty’s insult was also apparently done in deference to leading presidential contender, Hillary Clinton. No one was surprised when McNulty loudly endorsed Clinton on the Capitol steps about a month back, along with almost every Democratic office holder within a hundred miles of Albany. (I turned down two sets of tickets to attend this event. I hate crowds.)

So it should come as no surprise that McNulty does not support House Resolution 333, “Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.” So far, the bill has ten sponsors, most recently Hank Johnson of Georgia, on June 30. Michael McNulty has not joined them.

Hillary In Pink
Hillary In Pink

You see, House Resolution 333 was introduced by none other than Dennis Kucinich. If McNulty were to support this bill by being a cosponser, he would deliver a grave and dangerous insult to the presidential candidate of his choice, Hillary Clinton. And Hillary, as most of us are aware, has been rather reluctant to rock the boat with things like troop withdrawel and impeachment. Clearly, she would be very unhappy with McNulty.

To sum up. McNulty will not do the right thing and call for the impeachment of the most outrageously corrupt and downright evil ruler this nation has ever experienced. He does not refuse to do this because of fear of the corporate media, he is no longer terrorized by the Hearst corporation.

He is not particularly afraid of Cheney or the international corporations that supply the War. McNulty broke with them when he joined the Out Of Iraq Caucus.

The Face Of Evil
The Face Of Evil

From all evidence, McNulty will not endorse impeachment of Cheney partly because he personally does not like Dennis Kucinich, and partly because he is in absolute awe and terror of Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, the bodies pile up in Iraq. America crawls closer to corporate dictatorship. Cheney sneers with delight.



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