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October 23, 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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October 23 , 2007

Slandering Governor Spitzer

Once again, an unholy alliance attempts to undermine good government in New York State

Back in August I read a very distressing bit of news. According to a recent survey, seventy five percent of Americans still trust the corporate media.

The results of this survey really woke me up. Somehow I’d come to think lately that the majority of people in my country had become more alert, more critical of their information sources. I guess I’d let baseless hope and optimism get the better of me. Once again.

It was around the time this survey came out that our local corporate media started blabbering in lockstep about “troopergate.” As far as I can tell, this word was invented by the managers of the Hearst Times Union of Colonie, and was quickly parroted by the useless TV and by the wingnuts on AM radio.

Boss Joe Bruno
Boss Joe Bruno

At first, I thought it was hilarious. Senator Joe Bruno, the most important Gop politico in the state, had been caught red-handed stealing State resources for his own enjoyment. He’d been using state helicopters at a cost of THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER HOUR and requisitioning NY State Troopers as chauffeurs and personal security guards. All this so that he could attend NY City Gop Party fundraisers in style.

(By the way, Gops are officially known as “Republicans,” the use of which term denigrates our formerly proud republic. I think that he word is derived from an acronym for “Get Our Pork.” Or something like that. That’s what they call themselves, so I use it here.)

We learned about Bruno’s criminal behavior because several new, low level appointees to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s administration made a Freedom of Information Request (usually called a FOIL) for documentation. Now, technically these fellows did not follow proper procedure in their FOIL request and cut some corners, but who cares. They unearthed evidence of real crime at a high level. Right?

NY State Trooper Helicopter
NY State Trooper Helicopter

Believe it or not, it seems that Bruno has used his position as boss of the Senate to make it perfectly legal for a politico like himself to requisition helicopters and state troopers for personal use.

Even more incredible, the Governor’s staffer’s FOIL request has been falsely portrayed by the corporate media as illegal. According to these clowns, access to public information has become a criminal scandal worthy of nonstop headlines. The irony here is that corporate media, which owes it’s existence to the First Amendment, is busily trying to suppress their own access to information.

Now, don’t think that I am uncritical of Governor Spitzer. Sometimes the man acts like a Gop himself, like when he promotes privatized so-called “charter” schools over legitimate public education. All I’m saying is, let’s save the criticism for something real. We don’t need childish Gops and irresponsible corporations dictating their own version of political correctness.

Eliot Spitzer, September
Eliot Spitzer In September, Addressing A Legitimate School

I read all the local newspapers religiously, but I never waste my time with the garbage on the TV and the radio. Life is too short. So I didn’t get the total impact of the Gop/corporate media propaganda blitz over “troopergate.” That is, until I talked to a friend who does waste her time with all that TV crap.

This woman is not dumb. She has lots of college degrees. In fact, she is a doctor. Yet, for all her formal learning, she is among the seventy five percent who believe whatever the corporate media wants them to see and hear.

“So,” she said to me, by way of making conversation, “I guess Eliot Spitzer’s in a lot of trouble.”

“Huh?” I hadn’t had time that day to surf the net for news, so I thought I’d missed something new.

“You know,” she said, “Troopergate. It sounds pretty bad for him.”

I paused. I sighed. I explained to her as compactly as I could that the real scandal involved Senate Majority leader Bruno, and the corporate media was desperately spinning Bruno’s crimes to lessen the impact on Bruno and make Governor Spitzer look bad. And furthermore, they were trying to divert attention away from the rest of Bruno’s criminal activities.

She listened politely and said, “So do you think the Governor will have to resign?”

If I were the sort of person who is prone to depression this conversation would have caused me to binge on prozac. I wouldn’t have come down for a month. But fortunately I don’t get depressed. Instead, I get surly and write snarly things on my blog. I like to share my frustration.

Living here in the State Capital, I often forget that outside of Albany almost no one gives a damn about State politics. Thus, the vast majority of people in New York State only hear bits and pieces of occasional information about their government. And all too often, that little bit is spoon fed to them by the corporate media propagandists.

State Capitol:  No One Gives A Damn
State Capitol: No One Gives A Damn

The whole “troopergate” routine started back in July when a Times Union apparatchik called up Boss Bruno and tried to shake him down for money in exchange for favorable “reporting.” The Boss was having none of it, and even filed a complaint with Albany County District Attorney David Soares. And of course, The Boss threw a self-righteous hissy fit.

At the time I thought that was the end of it. But apparently Bruno ended up horsetrading with the higher ups in the Hearst Corporation... but this time, on his own terms.

I will never cease to be astounded by the power of the corporate media to instantly warp people’s minds. Never mind that the heart of “troopergate” is Bruno’s criminal corruption. The only thing that most people have heard, like my friend the doctor, was SPITZER BAD SPITZER BAD SPITZER BAD SPITZER BAD SPITZER BAD. All carefully choreographed.

And almost no one who absorbed this message, including my doctor friend, could tell me why the Governor was supposed to be bad. That wasn’t part of the message.

But eventually the manufactured story got stale. Too many people were starting to wake up and see Bruno’s crime through the spin. It was time for another made up “scandal.”

Tedisco Throws A Tantrum
Tedisco Throws A Tantrum

Enter James Tedisco. He’s the Assembly Minority Leader, representing an area around Schenectady and Amsterdam, a district gerrymandered to ensure that only a Gop gets elected. Like Boss Bruno, he is said to be real personable, a fellow who shows up at all the right events and knows how to make you his friend.

He’s also ambitious. No one can say for sure, but it looks like Tedisco is trying to position himself to take over Bruno’s position as Top Gop in the State when the Boss retires or gets indicted. Or perhaps he’s dreaming of something bigger, like becoming Senate Majority Leader or Governor. In any case, he’s been lining up his ducks and making them quack.

Now, the new big phony scandal routine is ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS GETTING DRIVER’S LICENSES.

It seems that Mr. Spitzer wants unregistered aliens to come forward and apply for licenses, which is a clever way to get them to register their residency in our State. As far as I can see, most people don’t care one way or the other. I say let ‘em drive legally, fer chrissakes. Or should they drive illegally, which surely they are doing now?

What happened is that Tedisco got the State Gop to put pressure on those particular county clerks who owe their jobs to the Gop Party. (Apparently the clerks have something to do with issuing licenses. News to me.) They were told to protest against the order from the Governor. And a handful of obedient Gop clerks did what they were told to do by The Party.

The corporate media has made this little mobilization of party hacks look like a general uprising of county clerks. Which it most certainly is not. For example, has anybody heard that Albany County Clerk Tom Clingan, a Democrat, is opposed to the Governor’s order?

And let’s not forget that at the heart of this bull crap is that the Gops are promoting hatred of immigrants as a political tool. So far as I know, the local religious coalition ARISE is the only organization that has come to the defense of illegal immigrants in response to this nonsense. But compared to the vast and mighty cabal of Gops and corporate propagandists, they are hardly a blip on the scene.

That’s what happens when you trust the corporate media. Your mind gets caught in a fantasy whirlwind of fear and threats. You start to feel like all their blather and propaganda is the real world, real because there is nothing substantial with which to compare the illusions.

How long will it be before the majority of people are tired of being manipulated like this? It looks to me like it’s going to be a long time before we can say that seventy five percent of us have learned to distrust the corporate media, and twenty five percent remain obedient. Until that happens, good government will remain unattainable in New York State.

Bruno Acting Childish At The Firefighter's Memorial, NYC
Bruno Acting Childish At The Firefighter's Memorial, NYC

UPDATE: Melanie Trimble, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) writes a letter about the driver's license "scandal" to the October 22nd Daily Gazette.

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