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May 8
, 2008


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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May 8 , 2008

Swiftboating Barack Obama

The smearing of H. Carl McCall may show how the
corporate media plans to undermine the probable
Democratic candidate for president

Back in 2002 we had a chance to bring the State of New York back to life by electing a new governor. After eight years of that spineless Republican wimp George Pataki, we were afflicted with legislative deadlock, outrageous corporate welfare, rampant patronage appointments, and runaway privatization with its resulting higher taxes and out-of-control spending. Anyone who lived in upstate New York could observe the steady economic decline all around.

The Democratic candidate for governor, then State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, appeared to be an excellent choice to undo the damage done by Pataki and his party. He was strong willed, competent and very experienced with financial management. And four years earlier, when he was running for comptroller, Mr. McCall racked up a higher vote total than did Pataki.

Unfortunately, Mr. McCall went into the Governors race with what turned out to be a fatal handicap. You see, he is black.

H. Carl McCall
H. Carl McCall

It was astonishing to watch Mr. McCall’s campaign collapse after his nomination. Since Republicans are the party of white supremacy, it was no surprise that those people rallied around their spineless white boy Pataki. But the real surprise was how many Democrats, who are a majority in this state, refused to vote for a black man.

The high profile defections within the Democratic Party are a matter of record. For a local example, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings vigorously supported Andrew Cuomo for Governor. But after Cuomo lost the nomination to Mr. McCall, Jennings undermined his own party and endorsed Pataki.

Jennings initially supported Cuomo because the two of them had a long standing working relationship. But from what I’ve heard, his refusal to endorse Mr. McCall after Cuomo’s defeat left the black community in Albany with the distinct impression that Jennings is an old boy racist. Whatever the short term advantages he accrued by endorsing Pataki, Jennings has been scrambling to repair the damage it caused to his reputation right up to this present day.

Jerry Jennings by himself did not and does not have the power to sabotage a State election, his power has been waning even inside the City of Albany. I think that Jennings, by any account a smart politician, sensed the widespread quiet white backlash against a black Governor. His political error was that he climbed onto the wrong bandwagon, one that did not include the people that he has to deal with on a daily basis.

The Mayor was not the only public persona to sense the white backlash against Mr. McCall. After all, if there had been wide public support for Mr. McCall then even the corporate media would have been reduced to grumbling and spitting. The media owners and managers hate losing control of the public, particularly at election time.

The white reluctance to vote a black person into executive office was quite real. Naturally, the Republicans snickered and sneered about “mud people” or “Canadians” or whatever racist euphemism was current among those people at the time. But Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one in this State, so that should not have mattered.

Diesel Sweeties by R. Stevens.  Get The Punchline?
Diesel Sweeties by R. Stevens. Get The Punchline?

Unlike Republicans, white Democrats are not supposed to hate black people. They are expected to believe that a black person can do anything a white person can do. That would include putting a black person in charge of running the State. Or the country.

That put the white Democrats into a quandary. The problem was that H. Carl McCall was a squeaky clean guy with an excellent record of accomplishment, clearly the better candidate. They had no reason to not vote for him.

Ah, the corporate media came to the rescue of the queasy white Democrats. The information manipulators didn’t have much to work with, the crap they came up with was embarrassingly lame. But it was enough for the quiet racism to translate into lost votes.

The handle they used was letterheads. It seems that Mr. McCall had written a bunch letters of recommendation for some folks back home using State of New York stationary.

Never mind that this is a widespread practice among State elected officials, and quite legal. Let’s not compare this to such nonsense as incumbent Governor Pataki’s use of State aircraft and taxpayer money to go on extended vacations all over the world. The scandal slot was empty and this baloney would work well enough.

The local corporate media worked, as usual, in lockstep. The Hearst Times Union, the TV “news,” the AM radio talk show announcers all blathered noise about the “letterhead scandal” at every opportunity. The coordinated propaganda was so intense that I heard some people wonder if Mr. McCall was heading for prison.

Cartoon of H. Carl McCall

Of particular note locally was Alan Chartok, the lord high owner of FM radio station WAMC, and CEO of the Northeast Public Radio Network. Chartok threw himself head over tongue into the task of reminding his listeners about the stupid letterheads.

In the weeks before the election I recall checking in with WAMC throughout the day to play a little game. I would listen to see how much time would pass before Chartok or one of his minions would mention the letterheads. The longest time I caught was not quite fifteen minutes. They even interrupted programmed segments to mention the letterheads.

And it worked. The middle aged upper middle class pseudo-liberals who comprise a large part of Chartok’s audience trust and adore him completely. He rewarded their faith by providing them with a justification for their secret fear of a black man in high public office.

Yes, I listened to these so-called liberals repeat Chartok’s line about how the “scandal“ damaged Mr. McCall’s “electability.” “This is a terrible error of judgment on his part,” I heard one woman say. “This raises questions about his ability to handle the job,” was another dumb comment repeated off the radio. “I don’t think I can vote for him after this,” they all said.

Mr. McCall lost to Pataki by a two to one margin. If you figure that Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, and most Re-pub radicals obediently vote for their designated candidate, then it turns out that fully half of the registered Democrats in this State did not vote for H. Carl McCall.

If Barack Obama is chosen as the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States, will we see a repeat of what happened to H. Carl McCall in New York State in 2002 on a national scale?

Hearst Does It's Part
Hearst Does It's Part

The corporate media has been doing its part.  The swiftboating of Mr. Obama has already begun.  And I’m already hearing noises from various people who are apparently happy to incorporate the propaganda into their media damaged minds.

I’m referring, of course, to the staccato blather about Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity Unity Church of Christ in Chicago. I admit that I’m not following the nonsensical details, I don’t have to. I’m mostly interested in the reactions of people who are allowing themselves to absorb the swiftboating.

Now, let me stop a moment and clear up one thing. I do not enthusiastically endorse Mr. Obama as the best possible person for the job of president, nor do I think that he can automatically repair the tremendous damage that the Republican traitors have deliberately inflicted upon our once proud nation. I don’t think that any one person is capable of rebuilding our country, that job is up to you and me.

Barack Obama Campaigning
Barack Obama Campaigning

I do support Mr. Obama as the best of the three presidential candidates that the corporate media has allowed us to consider. Admittedly that’s not saying much. Ms. Clinton has been acting an awful lot like Jerry Jennings lately, digging herself a deep latrine pit and climbing inside. And as for Insane John McCain...

My god, why would anyone vote for someone who’s prone to out of control tantrums? Who would want him near the nuclear launch button? There are few things uglier than an elderly person who never grew out of being a spoiled rich kid.

As if that wasn’t enough, McCain has already made it clear that he wants to continue the War Against Iraq, and expand it into Iran. If you think Cheney and Bush are doing a good job, and you hate America, then McCain is your boy.

As for this nonsense about Mr. Obama’s former pastor, is it really about attitudes and beliefs? No, of course not. If it was, then we would hear all about McCain’s bizarre and scary religious leaders, the ones who define exactly what he is, and what he and his kind want to do to this country..

Take this guy Rod Parsley, who McCain has called a “spiritual guide.” This head of a “megachurch” in Ohio maintains that it is our country’s destiny to fight and destroy Islam. He calls Allah “a demon spirit.” And oh yeah, he thinks all the problems with our country are caused by homosexuals.

McCain With Rod Parsley
McCain With Rod Parsley

Or John Hagee, head of another “megachurch” in Texas. He doesn’t like Catholics very much. He calls the Catholic church “the whore of Babylon” and “a false cult system.” He also blames all our problems on gay folk.

No, the whole media thing about Mr. Obama’s former pastor had nothing to do with "values." It was simply the first round of swiftboating, the negative branding of the likely Democratic candidate.

This first round is meant to remind all the white people that Mr. Obama is black. The message is that he is black black black black and nothing else. No thoughts, feelings, political positions, experience or competency. He’s just plain black.

I can’t say exactly what will come next out of the corporate media’s butthole. I’m sure the slander will be long and relentless. And it will be calculated to isolate voters according to race.

But I know one thing about the upcoming swiftboating of Mr. Obama. The corporate media will be scratching around to provide an excuse for secret racists so that they don’t have to vote for a black person. And when they find that excuse, they will ram it into all of our heads until all other thoughts about the campaign are completely forgotten.

This media bombardment defeated H. Carl McCall in New York State in 2002. And I see no reason why it will not work again five years later across the nation. And if it doesn't work, I've already been hearing people say, "They'll never let Obama get to the White House. They'll shoot him first."

Yes, "they" may very well decide to do so.

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Posted by: Roger Green
Posted on: 05/09/2008
Been trying to formulate my own response to the swiftboating of Barack. I voted for him grudgingly in February (I preferred Kucinich, but he had suspended his campaign by then), but Obama's actually grown on me.

Posted by: hailstorm518
Posted on: 05/09/2008
who wants to help me swiftboat mccain?

all we need to do is dig up some dirt on him, exaggerate it, put it all in a hysterical email, circulate it to everyone we know, and tell them to forward it on. unless of course, they hate america.

something along the lines of the "obama is a muslim terrorist" email that way too many people believe. or, the more recent and even more disgusting, the obama's family photo album email, that shows everyone just how BLACK he is!

the horror.

the horror.

Posted by: SomeDude
Posted on: 05/10/2008
I think that you're overestimating the impact of this "letterhead" thing just a bit. I don't really remember it at all, and don't recall anyone ever saying "OMG, he sent job recommendations for people on state letterhead!"

I do remember two things that appeared often in the NYC papers and were more substantive.

The first was that McCall bought the public employee union vote and some of the committee people by changing rules surrounding the pension system. and putting the system at risk. He gave all state and city workers a 3% raise by eliminating their pension contributions and boosted the cash available to municipal government and school districts by slashing their contributions dramatically.

I also recall a couple of Wall St. influence peddling issues.

Posted by: Dan Weaver
Posted on: 05/12/2008
While I don't support Obama, I agree with you. The whole flap over Rev. Wright's comments is ridiculous. I believe that a little research on Hillary Clinton's and John McCain's pastors would reveal some interesting sound bites as well.

Posted by: alfrednewman
Posted on: 05/12/2008
Personally I can't wait for our country to get past the race thing.

I voted against McCall because he admitted that he was allowed his social activist friends to tell him what to invest the state pension funds in. That violated his fiduciary responsibilities. People in his office also were responsible Aaron Dare getting money from banks with state deposits.

Obama does not have the experience and hasn't demonstrated leadership skills necessary to do the job. Simply put, if race wasnt a factor here he would be a first term nobody.

Posted by: The weak follow the O
Posted on: 05/13/2008
True to that Alfred, if Obama wins we are in some serious problems. He thinks like a child with his naive idealism not realizing things are different outside of the ivory tower. I can forsee him causing the great depression two with his views on anyone making over $75,000 a year as rich, his support for illegal aliens, his desire to build large "usless" social programs, socialize healthcare and price controls as well as taxing business out of existance. His followers could care about the economy because they either have tenor,a trustfund or want a handout. Woring class Americans will pay big, hence we the working class needed to unite in defeat him.

Posted by: SomeDude
Posted on: 05/14/2008
You guys are paying far too much attention to the campaign talk, which is pretty much irrelevant.

Obama, Hillary, whoever -- 95% of the crap they are muttering about will never happen, because the president isn't a dictator.

Universal healthcare just isn't going to happen, period. Big pharma needs you to pay $200 a bottle for foot fungus pills, and the AMA doesn't want it's members' earnings to go the way of the British.

Ditto Iraq. A quick pullout of US troops in Iraq would leave a power vacuum that the Iranians will exploit, just like the Syrians do in Lebanon. Israel won't stand for it, and neither will Saudi Arabia.

What will happen? We'll subsidize ADM and Ethanol less, and setup more healthcare for kids. We'll send more money into the public school tarpit. We'll probably stop cancel a few military programs and raise taxes to pay for the ongoing war.

Posted by: Jim Travers
Posted on: 05/15/2008
Although I find Barack Obama personable, down deep there is very little difference, at least to me, between him and Hillary Clinton.

I too, find race-baiting repulsive. As the white population in the US is soon to become a minority, I have to wonder how long it will continue.

Indeed, Obama and Clinton are par with each other in their experience and together theirs can't compare with Mc Cain's.

However neither have colluded with the enemy, as many Vietnam era veterans believe McCain had. That and the fact he called off the official search for US MIAs/POWs, even though there were credible reports of sightings of imprisoned servicemen.

Under interrogation, "McCain gave his ship's name, squadron's name, and the attack's intended target."

"He felt then and always that he had dishonored his country, his family, his comrades and himself by his statement, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."

That's your 'swift boat' argument, if you choose to use it, hailstorm. That and his history of being a part of the "Keating Five" involved in the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal.

"On his Keating Five experience, McCain said: "The appearance of it was wrong. It's a wrong appearance when a group of senators appear in a meeting with a group of regulators, because it conveys the impression of undue and improper influence. And it was the wrong thing to do."

It seems critical to elect someone who's willing to end the war, but none of the candidates will in fact end it, I'm afraid.

My vote will most probably be cast for Cynthia McKinney, who has virtually no chance of winning.

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