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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March 11, 2010
One Very Tough Governor
David Paterson stands firm against the corporate media and
the public approves
I have a friend who manages a hair salon. She’s a busy woman with three kids and little time to spare, so she doesn’t follow the news and figure out what’s really going on as much as she’d like to. Since she knows that I have the time in my life to ponder current events, she often asks for my take on the news.
“What’s up with Governor Paterson?” she asked me a few weeks ago. “I did ten customers yesterday, and nine of them said the exact same thing, ‘Paterson has to resign.’ What’s up with that?”
They said the exact same thing? I told my friend, If you go out in public and almost everyone you meet repeats the exact same phrase, then you know the corporate media is conducting a propaganda blitz. I told her that all nine of her hair customers probably had “Paterson has to resign” rammed into their heads the night before by their own TV sets.
My friend nodded. She’s one of the smarter people I know, and her bullstuff detector is always in good working order. “That’s what I thought,” she said. “So why are they attacking him?”
|Governor David Paterson In My Neighborhood Last Year
Well, that’s a very good question. Almost all media scandals have no real substance, they depend entirely upon constant repetition to maintain the illusion of substance. This scandal is no exception. After all, if an actual crime had been committed, the repetition wouldn’t be necessary. All the media would have to do is report facts.
Every single day for the past month, the Hearst-owned Times Union has plastered anti-Paterson headlines on their front page. Every day. Often the Times Union headlines have been big type, bold, screaming at the reader in a manner which is usually reserved for sudden disasters and terrorist attacks.
Most of these daily Hearst stories have been repeating old details and adding unfounded allegations, they contain very little actual news. The Daily Gazette has been behaving in a similar fashion. I don’t watch TV or listen to the AM radio dittohead shows, but I’m told that those corporate outlets are conducting the same mind numbing nonfactual repetition, all in a coordinated action. “Paterson has to resign, resign, resign.”
But somebody is behind this corporate media blitz. Exactly which power brokers are trying to drive Mr. Paterson out of the Governor’s office, and why? That’s what’s puzzling me.
|Respected Publications Working Together
As any scam artist can tell you, the best lies are based on a little bit of truth. A little bit of truth gives the lies legs and staying power, while at the same time a little bit of truth discourages otherwise discerning people from asking probing questions. The technical term for such well proportioned lies is “bulls--t.”
The Scandal is based on Mr. Paterson’s relationship with his closest personal aide, a fellow named David W. Johnson. It seems that this fellow Johnson has been known to act like John Sweeney and smack around his wife. As we all know, heterosexual men are not allowed to hit women, so Johnson’s domestic behavior has become a criminal matter.
Too bad for Johnson, he should have known better. Lock him up in the Wifebeater’s Hotel where he can share a room with Sweeney. Both their ex-wives can visit and administer electroshock therapy for, say, an hour a week. Be sure to tell Johnson to resign his state job as they drag him out the door, case closed. Right?
No. The Governor, inexplicably, personally intervened in the case. According to corporate news reports, he directly contacted the abused woman twice and had some of his office staff contact her several times. Apparently some State Police from the Governor’s security staff also talked to the woman. Indeed those are the main facts, almost everything else you’ve heard is speculation and or innuendo.
|David Paterson At Right In 1970 With His Father Senator Basil Paterson, His Mother Portia And Brother Daniel
So the pertinent question is whether or not Mr. Paterson made these contacts with a view to influencing the case, that is, intentionally obstructing justice. Or, did he merely commit a foolish impropriety by contacting the abused woman and trying to “sort things out,” an impropriety he should have known better than to commit?
Funny how the corporate media has pretty much skipped over this question. The NY Times, which appears to be coordinating the smear campaign, has set the tone by presuming guilt. “These accounts,” said the NY Times on March 1, referring to the calls and visits, “provide the first evidence that Mr. Paterson helped direct an effort to influence the accuser.”
That’s called “shaping information.” Indeed, the very same two NY Times content providers who conducted the smear campaign against former Governor Eliot Spitzer are creating the smear job on Mr. Paterson. Their names are William K. Rashbaum and Danny Hakim. Think of them as The New Judith Millers.
The Governor had a very special relationship with this guy Johnson, one that most of us will never have with another person. Mr. Paterson, as we all know, is blinder than a bat and, as far as I know, has no sonar. To hold down a job like Governor of New York State He needs to compensate for his poor eyesight, he needs alternative eyes close by at all times.
I got a chance last year to briefly watch the interaction between Mr. Paterson and David Johnson. Last May on this blog I published a photo I’d snapped of the two of them at work on Morton Avenue in my neighborhood:
|David Johnson At Left, Guiding The Governor Through My Neighborhood Last Year
I watched as Johnson, large and imposing, directed the Governor through the crowd and provided for him a precise running commentary on what was directly in front of them. From what I saw I have to say that Johnson did his job with impressive efficiency and accuracy.
For sure that’s why Mr. Paterson retained Johnson as an employee even after Johnson’s domestic abuse crimes came to be known. I don’t think the Governor could tolerate some screwup giving him false information minute to minute. “Turn left here Governor... oops, didn’t see that tree, didja? Ha ha...” I think Mr. Paterson would be very reluctant to lose a valuable and reliable employee like Johnson.
And yet, while watching the two of them interact at that public event, I was immediately hit with an uneasy thought that I had to quickly examine and dispose of.
They looked like a master and servant. Most Americans, despite having their heads crammed with corporatist propaganda, are instinctively repelled by such relationships. I strongly suspect that many other persons who have watched them working together have have had the same momentary crisis that I had.
One or two hundred years ago every rich man and woman had factotums at their sides (or two steps behind) as a sign of their superior power and prosperity. Today’s elected officials wouldn’t dare display personal servants to advertise their status. Instead they have “security personnel” for their traveling entourages and security theater checkpoints outside their offices to underscore their own personal importance for a gaping easily deceived public.
|David Johnson Working With Governor Paterson
Naturally, I quickly reminded myself that the Governor needs a reliable set of eyes next to him at all times, it would be quite silly for him to rely on the kindness of strangers. Like at this event last year in my neighborhood, if Mr. Paterson had relied on Jerry Jennings and Jack McEneny to guide him, the man would have ended up rotating in the middle of Morton Avenue while getting clipped by suburban SUVs.
I am, however, accustomed to watching my own thought processes, so I noted that my uneasy feeling about their close relationship lingered in the back of my mind. I strongly suspect that most people who observed Johnson and Mr. Paterson working together also stuffed this thought into the backs of their brains, perhaps unconsciously.
It is this collective lingering uneasy feeling that is being exploited by these two propagandists Rashbaum and Hakim. The copy from their NY Times articles plays directly on this fleeting attitude that no one talks about. These excerpts are from their masterpiece of smear propaganda printed on February 16:
Mr. Johnson’s increasing prominence, and Mr. Paterson’s reliance on him, have worried some veteran aides to the governor . . . Some heads of significant government agencies have said they feel they have to go through Mr. Johnson, often known as D. J., to get to the governor... Mr. Johnson, [an] official said, started to manage administration press conferences, dictating the order and seating of speakers and calling agencies to request they draft statements on particular issues...
I have to hand it to Rashbaum and Hakim, this is top notch propaganda. These boys know how to manipulate the public. After “establishing” that the King is dependent on the personal servant and that the servant is controlling the King, the propagandists make the King look helpless:
Mr. Johnson, the colleague said, was also valued because of the imposing figure he cast. At 6-foot-7, with a booming voice, he made Mr. Paterson, who is legally blind, feel secure, and so he was often scheduled to travel with him.
Nice technique! Note how the phrase “feel secure” stands out as the centerpiece of the sentence. And the phrase is positioned so that it effectively stands central to the article while at the same time seeming trivial. After first presenting the Governor as out of control dangerously powerful, they then make him out to be a helpless girl. Man, these guys are good.
|Eagle Street Seen From The Governor's Mansion. Mr. Paterson Regularly Stays At The Mansion
Like I said earlier, effective lies need to incorporate the truth. We already know that Mr. Paterson is blind (helpless) which is his biggest weakness. But we’re not supposed to draw attention to his handicap, we’re just supposed to let the thought sit unexamined in the backs of our minds.
As for Johnson, he’s a very big dark skinned black man from the ghetto and a member of the economic underclass. Therefore, in all too many minds, he is a dangerous animal shoehorned into a suit and brought by the King to live inside the royal palace. But again, we’re not supposed to say stuff like that out loud either.
Starting with the undeniable fact that Johnson committed a vile crime by beating his wife, the article proceeds to seemingly confirm everyone’s unspoken thoughts about the two men. Thus in this manner the NY Times article transforms a pack of innuendoes based on conjecture into the apparent plain and unadorned truth. In other words, pure bulls--t.
So why did Mr. Paterson contact David Johnson’s wife (“companion” or “partner” or whatever?) It looks to me like the Governor let his personal relationship with Johnson get in the way of his brains. Apparently he thought that this was more of a personal matter than a public matter, and that he could find a way to fix things and perhaps keep his reliable employee with minimal hassle.
Personal relationships, you see, are always a sticky problem for elected office holders who are constantly in the public eye. There is always the danger that their personal relationships will go sour and bring down the office holder’s career. That, by the way, is what happened to John Sweeney.
|David Johnson On The Capitol Steps
So if a close member of your staff is suddenly in trouble with the law, should you simply cut off the offending member? That’s what most politicians do most of the time, and I’m sure that’s what David Paterson does in most cases. It always looks cold hearted and cruel to cut someone off like that for the sake of public appearances, but that’s how politicians stay in office.
Now, I know everyone identifies with the semi-anonymous victim at the end of this chain, the woman that Johnson assaulted. I sure as hell don’t mean to scoff at her suffering, I know all too well what it’s like to be helpless at the mercy of someone stronger.
But does anyone seriously think that Rashbaum and Hakim and the pack of corporatist whore editors at the NY Times really care about the rights of the victim? Have any of these pampered lap dogs ever given so much as a speck of a damn in their lives about a black underclass woman from Harlem victimized by her spouse?
Mr. Paterson has stated that he made the calls before he learned that this was a criminal matter, before he understood the seriousness of the situation. Unless someone can plausibly demonstrate that the Governor intentionally set out to intimidate the victim and obstruct justice, then all we are left with is an error in judgment. Really folks, is this cause for impeachment?
This may come as a shock to the politically naive, but chief executives of all stripes get their work done by threatening people. Yes, that’s right, that’s what mayors and governors and presidents do all day. They sit at their desks, talk on the phone, and tell selected persons what will happen to them if they don’t do what he or she wants.
How many times a day do you suppose Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings threatens people? Hundreds? Hell, over the years He’s personally threatened me either directly or more usually through other people more often than I can remember. And all the times He has degraded or dumped on my neighborhood, these can be considered threats, too... as in “there’ll be more to come.”
|NY Governor David Paterson At The Podium, With Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings And Senator Neil Breslin
I explained all this to my friend as she cleaned up the kitchen, and she had a question for me. “So what do you think of Paterson as a governor?”
I told her that I preferred him to his two predecessors. Eliot Spitzer greatly reduced funding for the South End rebuilding effort here in Albany, but Mr. Paterson restored the funding as soon as he took office. This, as I’ve written before, is a very vital issue for me. And as for that nitwit George Pataki and the damage his handlers caused in twelve years, don’t get me started.
Has New York ever had a governor from upstate? For a downstate politician Mr. Paterson has demonstrated quite a bit of genuine interest in the problems of the Cities of upstate. I’ve thought that if given half a chance, Mr. Paterson would launch some sort of plausible plan to rebuild the upstate economy, which no sitting Governor has seriously tried to accomplish since Nelson Rockefeller.
Some things I don’t like about Mr. Paterson include his support for privatized “charter” schools, but it seems that every politician these days is pushing these scam outfits. Somebody is raking in all that taxpayer money, and it sure isn’t the kids attending the “charter” schools. Ten or maybe even five years from now you won’t find one single politician who will remember having supported privatizing our public schools, but now “charters” are a big money fad.
Thanks to the corporate media, Mr. Paterson is associated in many people’s minds too closely with Mr. Spitzer. But the real problem, it seems to me, is that Mr. Paterson has come into office when former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno was losing his corrupt grip on our State. Bruno’s downfall was like taking the lid off a jar of houseflies, and right now Mr. Paterson is getting blamed for all the buzzing flies in the house.
|Governor Paterson Posing For Photos
My friend considered all this as she wiped the kitchen counter and the stove. She asked, “So who’s behind all this?”
Well gee, last year President Obama told Mr. Paterson to quit. Right after that the chairs of the upstate county Democratic Party committees had a meeting and announced that they would not support Mr. Paterson. Instead, they announced that they would be supporting Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for governor.
Can you say, ‘political dynasty?” Mr. Cuomo has been actively pursuing the Governor’s job for the last decade. After losing a Democratic Primary to H. Carl McCall in 2002, these same upstate county committees showed their support for Mr. Cuomo by sabotaging Mr. McCall’s gubernatorial candidacy. These county chairs worked hard to deliver the Republican Party a landslide victory for their boy Pataki.
The smell of racism hung over that 2002 election like the stench of death.
The white county chairs (and white mayors like Jerry Jennings) were widely perceived as continuing to support the loser in the Primary because he is white, and actively undermining the winner because he is black. Andrew Cuomo’s current stealth campaign to gain the Governor’s job is picking up that old racist stench for a second time.
Okay, remember the scandal that brought down Spitzer? The so-called Justice Department of the Cheney-Bush White House used the so-called “Patriot” Act to go on a secret fishing expedition to look for something they could use against Spitzer. Did they find murder, rape, robbery or wife beating? No, they found worse than murder. They discovered that Spitzer was having sex.
I bring this up because during the Spitzer smear the Cheney-Bush Justice Department steadily fed their information directly to these two operatives Rashbaum and Hakim, and the NY Times printed their propaganda with enthusiasm. These two creeps are now crafting similar copy to smear Mr. Paterson, so who is feeding them information? The Obama Justice Department?
I’m not for a nanosecond suggesting that by smearing Mr. Paterson the corporate media is carrying out the bidding of President Obama and the Democratic Party. That would be absurd. No, this is one more manifestation of the same old game of “Re-pubs good, Dems bad.” Certain elements in the Democratic Party want Mr. Paterson gone, and the corporate media, sensing disunity and weakness, has been told to jump into the political battle and hurt as many Democrats as they can.
|David Johnson Holds The Door For The Governor As Another Goon Gives The Blogger The Shoulder
But the question remains, who told the corporate media to meddle? Who assigned Rashbaum and Hakim and the New York Times to smear the Governor? Is there a point to all this, or is the only goal to create chaos?
Everyone who is easily manipulated has jumped on the “Paterson has to resign” bandwagon. Like the twits at the NY State chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) who seem to believe that the Governor beat David Johnson’s wife. Or the fine elderly folks at Common Cause, whose call to resign finally got the name of their organization mentioned by the corporate media. Is that what it takes to get mentioned?
Despite all this the Governor won’t budge. The President, the county chairs, the entire corporate media, Andrew Cuomo, everybody who is anybody wants him Mr. Paterson to quit but he’s not taking orders. They are like waves crashing around a rock. It looks like Mr. Paterson is made of stronger stuff than they figured.
And the last word so far is this. Despite the coordinated propaganda campaign, a majority of New Yorkers want Mr. Paterson to stay in office. And Mr. Cuomo’s numbers are declining. Could this be the beginning of the end of the corporate media’s stranglehold on NY State politics? Jeez, I sure hope so. It’s about time.
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