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
June 18 , 2006
The New Michael McNulty
The Congressman appears to have finally caught on about Iraq, and
he earns approval from a key constituent
At the annual Labor Picnic on Labor Day, 2002, in the village park
in Menands, about a dozen of us waylaid Congressman Michael McNulty
(Dem-21st District) on the path out of the park as he tried to escape.
We had him surrounded. My friend Rezsin Adams, who is very short
and wrinkled, clamped her fingers around McNulty’s knuckles
and squeezed. McNulty was forced to look down into Rezsin’s
face and lock eyes. We all frowned at him.
“Congressman, please,” she said, “do not vote
for this war. It is wrong. Don’t do this to us.”
McNulty is a real pro, and he kept his cool under severe contradiction.
He managed to stammer out the beginning of a coherent line about
how the vote was technically not a vote for war against Iraq, it
was merely giving the White House power to take whatever action necessary,
“Mr. McNulty,” said Rezsin, “you know, I know,
we all know what the White House is going to do. If Congress gives
them this power then many, many people will needlessly die. We’re
asking you to do what is right. Please,” she added emphatically.
Even the most hardened politicians have limits to their endurance.
I can tell you from personal experience that when Rezsin is in full
persuasive mode that few, if any, can deny her. For the first time
that I could ever recall, I saw a bead of sweat form on the Congressman’s
brow, just below his immaculate hairline. We were watching him yield
to a greater force.
“Okay, um, I’ll take what you say into consideration.” I
saw a second bead of sweat.
“Promise me,” she said. His knuckles must have hurt. “Please.”
“Alright,” he said, barely audible. “I promise.”
“Thank you Congressman,” she said, with great relief.
We all murmured approval. She let go of the man’s knuckles
and he scurried down the path out of sight.
course he did no such thing. When it came time to vote a month
later, McNulty joined with his Republican colleagues to give the
White House carte blanche to do any damn thing it wanted without
any oversight. He did so enthusiastically, and to hell with the US
Constitution. Here is some of what
he said on the floor of the House of Representatives, October 8, 2002:
There are 135,000 American service personnel within the range of
Saddam's missiles right now. And what is most disturbing of all,
Mr. Speaker, is Saddam's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Most
of the experts up until recently have been saying that he is 2 to
5 years away from a nuclear capability. Now several are saying it
is less than a year.
...Mr. Speaker, this is the bottom line. Saddam Hussein can never
be allowed to possess a nuclear capability. This bipartisan resolution
emphasizes international cooperation, working with the United Nations,
and exhausting all other options before we go to a military option.
It ensures that military force will be used only as a last resort.
Anyone at the time who paid attention to the issues could see that
the White House was lying about the need for war. You didn't need
to be smart or privy to insider information, just alert. If McNulty
had listened to constituents like Rezsin, who is older and wiser
than he is, then he would not have made such an idiotic and regrettable
statement on the floor of the House.
Thanks to Michael McNulty and other Congressional representatives
like him, our nation is being bled like a hamstrung pig in an abattoir.
This War Against Iraq may very well destroy our country the same
way Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Union.
So, imagine my surprise the other day when Rezsin told me on the
phone that she planned to carry qualifying petitions for McNulty’s
re-election campaign for Congress.
This requires a bit of explanation. Rezsin and I are both Democratic
Party committee persons, myself and The Wife for, what... twelve?
fourteen years? Has it been that long? As for Rezsin, she’s
been on the Democratic Committee since the late 1960s.
Back in the bad old days, the Democratic Committee “Man” in
Albany was the appointed neighborhood leader, the allegedly elected
representative to the Old Boy party machine. His job was to tell
people how to vote, or else. Not any longer. Today, the Democratic
Party machinery has been marginalized in the neighborhoods, and the
Old Boys are barely clinging to power.
Rezsin is probably the original “Dissident,” one of
or possibly the first non-Old Boy on the Democratic Committee, elected
fairly by the neighborhood around her home on Chestnut Street in
Center Square. The Old Boys tried every trick to unseat her and failed.
Finally, they were reduced to punishing her neighborhood.
One day in the early 1970s, a City Water Department crew removed
the single fire hydrant on her part of Chestnut Street. All that
was left was bolts sticking out of the sidewalk. After a few days
Rezsin called up “The Mayor,” Erastus Corning, at his
office in City Hall.
“Mayor, please,” she begged, “you have to put
back our hydrant.”
“I’m sorry Mrs. Adams,” said The Mayor, “nothing
can be done.”
“C’mon, we have children on this block,” she said. “What
if a building burned and someone died? You don’t want that
on your conscience.”
“I’m sorry,” the old dictator murmured mournfully, “nothing
can be done.”
I guess Rezsin hadn’t perfected her persuasive technique back
then, or perhaps old Erastus was such a sociopath that he couldn’t
empathize with live human beings. Corning didn't replace the hydrant
until six month later, and fortunately no one died by his act.
Thanks to pioneering Dissidents like Rezsin, the only important
job left for us members of the Democratic Committee today is to carry
qualifying petitions for politicians. Every June, we have to knock
on our neighbor’s doors and cajole them into scribbling their
signatures a half dozen or so times. It’s all part of the process.
Since we are Dissidents, we don’t carry petitions for politicians
that we don’t like. If the incumbent is a jerk, we leave their
paperwork at home on the coffee table. I guess that’s how we
volunteer party functionaries make our little voices heard.
Last time McNulty ran for re-election two years ago, Rezsin let
everyone know that she was not carrying for him. But recently he
has made some statements in opposition to the War Against Iraq. Therefore,
she informed me, she would collect signatures for him.
I have a lot of respect for Rezsin, but I was skeptical, to put
it mildly. I assumed that McNulty's recent statements against the
war were mere conditional posturing. I figured that when the noise
and nonsense got too loud, he would fall back in line with the Republicans.
So I consulted the internet, and got another big surprise.
You see, the internet has completely changed the way we interact
with our elected representatives. When we want to find out how they
voted on an issue, all we have to do is a quick search. They can't
hide their records from us anymore. There are plenty of sites online
that post legislative voting records, often within minutes of the
votes being cast.
No longer do we constituents have to rely on the unreliable corporate
media for this knowledge, held hostage to their information filter.
No longer do we have to call up our representative’s offices
and argue with their staff. The middlemen have been rendered obsolete.
For starters, I found that McNulty has joined the Out of Iraq Caucus
in the House of Representatives! I certainly never
thought that would happen. Here is what he
is quoted as saying in he December 7, 2005 edition of The Hill:
Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.), one of the six who
have joined the Out of Iraq Caucus, called the situation in Iraq
failure” and expressed disgust that thousands of troops were
killed or wounded “going after a guy who did not attack us
while the one who did is alive, free and planning additional attacks.
“I know the pain of war. My brother was killed in Vietnam.
I know what it’s like to sit at the kitchen table and have
the military inform you that your loved one is dead.”
Interestingly, he used that same line about his brother back in
2002 to justify his support for the war.
I then discovered that he voted the other day against that dumb
resolution calling for perpetual war against “Terror.” That
passed overwhelmingly in the House, so perhaps his vote could be
dismissed as a safe vote, that is, a vote that means nothing but
can be used to impress the folks back home.
Then I found the most important vote of them all, which somehow
didn't get mentioned in the local corporate media. On June 13 he
voted against the Emergency Appropriations Bill to fund the war.
“Well,” I said out loud as I read about that on my laptop
at the Muddy Cup Cafe on Madison Avenue, “I most certainly
will be dipped.” I sure never expected anything like that to
happen in this universe.
The way I look at it, fine words fed to the media and meaningless
votes don’t add up to very much. However, when Congressman
McNulty votes against the money to carry on the war, that means something.
Especially when you consider that he risks punishment not only from
both parties in the form of lost disbursements for his district,
but from the media for opposing corporate war profiteering.
Could this be a new Michael McNulty? Has he finally, after all these
years, learned to listen to voters like Rezsin, who is most certainly
brighter than all of the current occupants of the White House combined?
Or, is this mere political posturing, a temporary ploy to ensure
big numbers for his re-election?
One thing is for sure. The evil creatures in the White House will
continue to demand more and more money from the taxpayers until there
is none left, unless someone tells them "no more." We'll
see if McNulty continues to vote against funding this horrible and
unnecessary war after his certain re-election.
Rezsin intends to reward McNulty by carrying his petition. But she
won’t be supporting Hillary Clinton. “She has no excuse
for wanting this war," she said. "I’m disgusted with
I think I’ll be following Rezsin’s lead
on these things. After all, she is older and wiser.
You can hear Rezsin's radio show on WRPI FM 91.5 on Friday mornings
from 10 AM to Noon, and during the summer also on Friday from 4:30
PM to 6 PM. Her show is a great way to catch up on the news behind
the news, especially if you don't have time to search for it.
Prior Post *
* * Next Post
This site maintained by Lynne
Jackson of Jackson's