Hillary Rediscovered

In the fall of 1992 I was a school media specialist and my best buddy was a Social Studies teacher. We were around the same age and utterly sick and tired of the Reagan-Bush I era. I was particularly angered and depressed by the constant anti-abortion message being shoved down our throats and had marched on Washington twice over abortion rights during these years. It felt like women were under constant attack.

So when Bill Clinton hit the scene, Kathy and I became big fans. We weren’t policy wonks at that point–we were just looking for some oxygen and Bill Clinton was it. One of my favorite expressions at the time was that Clinton “had a PULSE” and after years of ossification at the hands of Reagan-Bush I, that meant a great deal to us!

Around the time the fall was still warm and sunny, Hillary Clinton came to the Rutgers University campus on College Avenue, in New Brunswick, NJ. Kathy and I decided we simply HAD to go!

It was a beautiful day and a platform was set up as one entered the quad. I don’t recall the crowd being exceptionally large, nor do I remember a word that was said. But I do remember Hillary. She was wearing a bright purple skirt suit and her hair was fairly long. After she spoke, she came down the rope line and I shook her hand. What struck me was that she was very petite. And her skin–very fair and almost translucent. She looked almost fragile.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore started with great plans which were thwarted, particularly the 1993 energy proposal detailed in an earlier post. Hillary made mistakes with healthcare. The Telecommunications Act was a huge mistake. But, I understood the political climate was toxic and Clinton probably did the best anyone in that situation could have done, overall. Of course, like many liberals, I was mad at Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky affair.

I was particularly frustrated, however, by his playing footsies with the Bushes and the corporate ties. So, like many Democrats, I was ready for a new face this time around. I was adamantly against a Hillary run and decided John Edwards was delivering the message that appealed the most to me; he seemed to be the only candidate willing to address the issue of corporate power and its pervasive role in all aspects of American life. The media refused to report on him and apparently, Democratic voters were quite content to go with Obama and Hillary and their corporate ties, which was a major disappointment for me.

In the meantime, Obama devotees continue to be blind to Obama’s relationships and corporate ties and are buying into the “image” of change and at the same time have become virulently hateful toward the Clintons. It seems to be irrational hatred because their own favorite is proving to have clay feet, although they refuse to acknowledge this fact.

As the primary season has worn on, it’s become clearer to me that the media and Democratic Party are hell-bent on destroying the Clintons, specifically Hillary, for once and for all. Never mind that he’s been our only two-term Democratic president in decades and that he really did fix up the huge deficit mess left by Reagan-Bush I. Never mind he left the country poised to move forward. Suddenly, he and Hillary are the devils incarnate. And who is supposed to take up the party’s torch? A man who is arrogant and has advisers and endorsers who are the party elite! A man who will carry on the Democrats’ march toward becoming no different than Republicans. Big change…not at all. So getting rid of the Clintons seems more personal than a matter of political differences.

So, here I am, a woman slightly younger than Hillary watching as the hate and misogyny spews. I watch the Democratic party and “progressive” bloggers actually willing to disenfranchise voters in two states in order to fix the nominee. I watch Hillary Clinton being insulted and derided for positions that are no worse than Obama’s.

Over the years, of course, she has proved how resilient she really was and today she is robust, feisty older woman taking this stuff and dealing with it.

All this begins to make me angry, since I am one of those “older, under-valued women” who is of no interest, apparently to the party. The final straw comes a couple of months ago when a progressive site to which I had contributed columns every week since 2001 finally spews enough garbage that I no longer wanted my name associated with it. And then I watch a competent, well-spoken, woman well-versed on the issues being gestured at to “F*ck off” by the oh so “cool” guy being given a soft ride and I wonder, “What the hell is going on?” I feel like Obama is aiming his “coded” finger at me, too! My “misogyny radar” now has been re-activated as I listen to the media and the sly words Obama.

At this point I’m coming from a place which many of us who lived through the 60’s are now at and I am reflecting on all we’ve lived through. Over the last couple of years, I’ve shed my youth and have accepted the fact that I am middle-aged. As I’ve done that, I’ve noticed that like many women, I’ve become increasingly feisty and unwilling to put up with bullshit. My own language has become saltier and I do not suffer fools gladly.

In the last few months I’ve begun using a phrase “Don’t complain, DO” as I work to keep control of my life and continue to resist being pigeon-holed by marketers, doctors, and “youth.” Life needs to be addressed head on now and I’ve decided to “dig in” –I’m not leaving without a fight.

All these personal feelings are now dovetailed into the political season. After my guy Edwards was shoved out by the media and Democratic party voters, I tuned out for awhile. But Clinton hate, particularly Hillary-hate, has reawakened me and a lot of memories of past fights on women’s issues and current battles that need to be fought, especially the ongoing battle to be respected and taken seriously.

So, on Monday night, I actually tuned into to watch the Clinton rally in Philly. I listened to Bill Clinton and smiled as I heard him describe a “phalanx” of women mobilized if Hillary became President. I took note as he ticked off some the things she has accomplished over the years that have actually CHANGED people’s lives, such as the micro-bank funding, adoption law changes, and so many other things.

Then I watched Hillary and saw a real fighter. While I’m not a blind devotee, I really appreciated her energy and guts and passion as she spoke. Heck, she reminded me of…ME!

Later, I watched the video Keith Olbermann’s interview with Hillary and noted how he tried to insinuate that by meeting with Scaife, Hillary was a sell-out. She came right back at him and said it sure showed how she could work with almost anybody!! I hope Keith didn’t wet himself on that one. As a fellow Cornellian, I was once proud of Keith, but his anti-Hillary bias has become unbearable. He should be ashamed of himself because HE is the real sell-out and has lost his objectivity.

By the end of the night I felt as if I had been on a real journey of “rediscovery.” I had rediscovered how much I valued a lot of what Hillary had accomplished under trying circumstances and I wondered if Hillary was finding this campaign a journey of rediscovery as well. Because the woman I saw last night seemed to be on fire. The petite, almost fragile looking woman I saw in 1992 was transformed into a real force of nature.

I have to say I’ve become fired up as well. Does the Democratic Party really think that I’ll vote for just anybody they shove at me? After all this? No, they’re wrong. Because this “older, under-valued woman” has seen another woman of “a certain age” taking the hits and hitting back.

You know something? I’m proud of Hillary, just for that. I may not agree with her on everything she’s done or plans to do…but it seems she’s tapping into an energy that I recognize…it’s that I’m here, now, and it’s MY time! And maybe it’s HER TIME, too…

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Part III: Obama Adviser David L. Boren re: Foreign (inc. Energy) Policy

In Part I I provided extensive information courtesy of Sourcewatch.org, A Project of the Center for Media and Democacy, on former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee David L. Boren’s right wing ties, and his close relationship to Robert Gates, former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense.

In this post I will add a few more bits of information, including a rather surprising story about how Boren was involved in the outing of a CIA agent, and discuss some of Boren’s books and legislation involving foreign policy…and energy policy. Some of the information I’ve found includes:

–Boren’s rightwing leanings are illustrated in some of his actions as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. For example, he once sharply criticized President George Bush, accusing him of neglecting to take advantage of a 1989 failed coup attempt against Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega of Panama. (see NY Times article here.)

–The incident involving the CIA agent occurred in 1991 when Boren identified a senior clandestine CIA agent while talking to reporters. He claimed it was an inadvertent mistake.

Senator’s Slip Costs Cloak-and-Dagger Agent the Rest of His Cloak

By MICHAEL WINES,
Published: July 18, 1991

With an apparently inadvertent remark to reporters on Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee made very public the normally veiled identity of one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s most senior clandestine agents.

The Senator, David L. Boren, Democrat of Oklahoma, issued an aggrieved defense of his action today, emphasizing that the agent’s name had already been disclosed in newspapers, a best-selling book and in a Congressional investigative record.

But intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it nonetheless seemed likely that Mr. Boren’s widely quoted remark would curtail, if not end, the overseas career of the officer, Jay K. Gruner, a former Latin America division chief who has been chief of the C.I.A. station in a European capital for about two years.

“He’ll be coming back, I assure you, by the end of the summer,” an associate of Mr. Gruner said. ‘Absolutely No Secret’

The intelligence agency, adhering to its policy of never discussing whom it employs in operations posts, declined to say whether Mr. Gruner is an agent or whether he would return to the United States.

Senator Boren made his remark on Tuesday at a news conference about the delay in the confirmation hearings for Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s nominee for Director of Central Intelligence. Mr. Boren said senators wanted to interview Mr. Gruner about his knowledge of the secret arms sales to Iran and the illegal diversion of profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.

In a statement issued today by his office, Mr. Boren called the suggestion that he had compromised Mr. Gruner’s identity “outrageous,” saying that his name already “had appeared in records related to the Iran-contra inquiry on several occasions.”

“It is absolutely no secret to anyone that he occupied a position at the C.I.A. headquarters during the period of time of the contra resupply operation,” the Senator said. “It also is clear that in order to do its job, our committee must ask questions of Mr. Gruner,” regardless of whether his name is officially classified.

No one at the agency instructed him that Mr. Gruner’s name was not public, his statement said.

Nevertheless, without confirming Mr. Gruner’s identity, C.I.A. officials have recently asked reporters to consider withholding Mr. Gruner’s name from publication for fear that the disclosure would subject him to harassment or terrorist attack.

–In 1991 Boren also authored legislation which created the National Security Education Program .

David L. Boren National Security Education Act of 1991 (NSEA, Title VIII of P.L. 102-183), provides aid for international education and foreign language studies by American undergraduate and graduate students, plus grants to institutions of higher education. The statement of purpose for the NSEA emphasizes the needs of federal government agencies, as well as the Nation’s postsecondary education institutions, for an increased supply of individuals knowledgeable about the languages and cultures of foreign nations, especially those which are of national security concern and have not traditionally been the focus of American interest and study.

The NSEP website is quite explicit in naming the areas of the world covered in this act:

The National Security Education Program (NSEP) provides a unique funding opportunity for U.S. students to study world regions critical to U.S. interests (including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the Middle East). The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.

Isn’t that interesting? Most of he NSEP countries seem to be places where energy politics is the prime focus…

–Since leaving the Senate in 1994 to become President of the University of Oklahoma and Professor in the Department of Political Science (since 1995), Boren has continued to write and speak on foreign policy issues, as well as “unity.” As recently as March 4, 2008 he appeared on C-Span’s Washington Journal with a repeat on Book TV to discuss his latest book, “A Letter to America.” (For video, use the link which follows.) According to the C-Span blurb,

Former Senator David Boren talked about his book, A Letter to America. He questioned how long the United States, with only six percent of the world’s population, can remain a global superpower. He offered advice on how we can secure an influential role for America in the fast-changing world of the 21st century. He drew on his experiences as the longest-serving chair (1987-1995) of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Former Senator David Boren argued that America is at a crossroads and needs to foster bipartisanship to overcome important issues like healthcare and education.

–In recent years he has co-edited books published by the University of Oklahoma Press, including 2002’s DEMOCRACY, MORALITY, AND THE SEARCH FOR PEACE IN AMERICA’S FOREIGN POLICY featuring essays by Lawrence Eagleburger, Paul Kennedy, Phyllis Oakley, George Mitchell, Lady Margaret Thatcher, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

–In 1999 he co-edited PREPARING AMERICA’S FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, the result of a gathering in ” 1997 and 1999 [of] a very select group of analysts, practitioners, and scholars assembled at the University of Oklahoma to lay the groundwork for a new United States foreign policy that will promote our nation’s ideals while protecting its vital interests in the post-cold war era.” The long list of contributors included the usual suspects, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Lee Cullum, Robert M. Gates, David R. Gergen, Richard M. Helms, Jim L. Hoagland, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Henry A. Kissinger, Walter Mondale, Sam Nunn, George J. Tenet, William H. Webster, and R. James Woolsey

The Kirkus Reviews discussion of this book ends with this interesting comment:

While each piece stands alone, collectively the book reveals an overall elite consensus on what the US faces in the world and what it should do in the world. … . National bipartisan consensus should be reached on just what values and goals the US wishes to pursue, and domestic issues must not be allowed to interfere too deeply in the pursuit of this national interest….

What does that last sentence mean?? It gives me an awful uneasy feeling…

–What is very interesting is the fact that one of Boren’s earliest forays into writing about foreign policy was in 1976, when he edited a book with Melvin Laird which was based on a rountable held on October 2, 1975 at the American Enterprise Institute, which Sourcewatch.org describes as “an extremely influential, pro-business right-wing think tank.”

Melvin Laird was Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 and Counselor to the President for Domestic Affairs from 1973 to 1974. The title of the book he edited with David L. Boren was entitled “ENERGY POLICY ASSESSMENT – A New War Between the States?”

Clearly, Boren’s rightwing leanings have colored his foreign policy interests. The question is now how much influence Boren will have with Obama? How much “bipartisanship” will really be a set of policies that are dictated by a conservative, elite foreign policy cadre? In other words, will Obama really bring change to our foreign policy? I think not…


Part II: Obama’s Adviser David L. Boren–How He Screwed Us Long-term in 1993 re: Energy and More

In Part I of this series on Obama’s newest adviser, fmr. Senator David L. Boren, I provided an overview of some of Boren’s activities specific to his “unity” efforts and some of his foreign policy “expertise.” (Part III will delve deeper into his foreign policy activities.)

This post, Part II, will explore Boren’s activities on the domestic front, with a focus on his political background followed by a detailed examination of how he almost single-handedly derailed President Clinton’s 1993 economic plan. The long-term implications of his activities in 1993 haunt us today and it should raise concerns about Obama’s ties to him now…because although these were “domestic” issues, the key parts of the plan involving energy morph into foreign policy concerns as well.

BOREN’S POLITICAL BACKGROUND

Lyle Boren, David L. Boren’s father, served in Congress from 1937 to 1947. He often broke with his party, notably by being against much of FDR’s New Deal. His son also served in the House (1967-1974) and then became governor of Oklahoma in 1975. He was in the U.S. Senate from 1979 until he resigned in 1994 to become President of the University of Oklahoma.

Boren was a member of Skull and Bones at Yale. He has been a member in the National Legal for the Public Interest along with Dick Cheney, Ken Starr and Ted Olson. Other organizations he was involved with include the Forum for International Policy (with Ken Lay of Enron also a member) and the conservative Democratic think tank known as the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (surprise! Bill Richardson is also listed as a member). (See here for more information on these and other organizations.)

Then there are his board positions, which have included Phillips Petroleum and later Conoco-Phillips (1995-2005; Torchmark, a life and health insurance company; and Hiland Partners, L.P., described as “a midstream energy partnership engaged in gathering, compressing, dehydrating, treating, processing and marketing natural gas, and fractionating, or separating natural gas liquids.”

It was during the “gasoline crisis” of the mid-1970s that “Boren rose to prominence on the national scene when he spoke out in favor of deregulation of natural gas prices at the federal level. As a result, Pres. Jimmy Carter appointed him chair of a task force of representatives from thirty states to study the problem,” according to the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.

Boren broke with his party by voting in favor of the Supreme Court nominations of Robert H. Bork and Clarence Thomas. (He has since said his vote for Judge Thomas was a mistake.)

Also in the mix is a reported “coming out” by Boren. According to W. Scott Thompson in his book “The Price of Achievement: Coming Out in Reagan Days” (1995), pp. 222-23, Boren “In August 1978, while a candidate for U.S. Senate, Oklahoma Governor Boren held a press conference to deny rumors of his homosexuality, taking an oath to that effect on a Holy Bible.” The bio in the Encyclopedia cited above makes no mention of this press conference, but does report on Boren’s first marriage and divorce and events surrounding his subsequent remarriage that sound a bit odd:

Shortly after graduating from law school, Boren married Janna Lou Little, the daughter of Oklahoma politician Reuel Little of Madill, who ran for governor as the candidate for the American Party in 1970. The couple had two children, Dan and Carrie, before the marriage ended in divorce in 1975. … Extraordinary security surrounded the marriage of Governor Boren to Pontotoc County Special District Judge Molly W. Shi on November 27, 1977. Only Boren’s family and immediate top-level staff members knew of the approaching wedding until hours before the event.

While there’s a distinctly “Republican air” to much of the above background, it’s his time in the Senate that should really raise the eyebrows of the “progressive” blogosphere which seems to be rather uninterested in where Obama’s advisers are coming from.

BOREN’S SENATE SHENANIGANS

A series of three stories in the New York Times from May and June of 1993 (and which are still available online) paints a clear picture of how Boren worked against President Clinton during that time. If you don’t have time to read this entire blog, at least read these three stories!

The first story by David E. Rosenbaum entitled “KEY FOE OF BUDGET SUGGESTS OPTIMISM OVER A COMPROMISE” was published on May 31, 1993 and illustrates how Boren worked with Republicans to force changes in the budget, notably on energy.

The second story by Clilfford Krauss entitled “SENATOR COMMANDS STAGE FAR BIGGER THAN OKLAHOMA BY DEFYING CLINTON” published on June 16, 1993 provides key insights into how Boren essentially broke his word to the President, chose Oklahoma interests over the interests of the country at large, and how he was criticized by many Democrats in the Senate for his teaming up with Republicans.

The third story also by David E. Rosenbaum entitled “SENATORS ON FINANCE PANEL REACH ACCORD ON A BUDGET WITH GAS TAX AND NEW CUTS” was published on June 17, 1993 reviews the final budget and the changes Clinton was forced to accept.

WHAT WERE THE ENERGY PROVISIONS THAT CLINTON/GORE INCLUDED IN THE ORIGINAL BUDGET?

In an article written for the Center for a New American Security by Josh Busby in January 2008 entitled “OVERCOMING POLITICAL BARRIERS to REFORM in ENERGY POLICY” the author writes:

In 1993, the Clinton administration came to power with ambitious goals to support core constituencies in the Democratic Party, including environmentalists. Vice President Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance had just come out. In the book, Gore declared that “it ought to be possible to establish a coordinated global program to accomplish the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say, a twenty-five year period.”1 Still fresh with optimism about its capability to move legislation through a
Democratic-controlled Congress, the Clinton administration believed that taxes on the energy content of fuel seemed like an attractive way to provide revenue for deficit reduction but also support environmental goals.

In February 1993, the Clinton administration announced as part of its budget proposal that it would impose a Btu (British thermal unit) tax on the energy content of fuel. Designed to raise $71.4 billion over five years, the Btu tax soon became a lightning rod for criticism. In the first proposal of the Btu tax, coal and natural gas were taxed at the same rate, even though coal is more polluting. This was a way to avoid incurring the wrath of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. The Clinton administration made a tactical mistake by then modifying the plan in April 1993 to further appease coal interests. Once this move had been made, other interests piled on in an effort to seek exemptions from the tax while the oil and gas industry opposed it outright. Even though the House voted in favor of the remnant of the Btu tax, influential Democratic senators like David Boren of Oklahoma and John Breaux of Louisiana vigorously opposed it, and the Clinton administration withdrew it before a vote.

Ultimately, the Btu tax was replaced with a modest 4.9 cents per gallon gasoline tax. After all was said and done, the Btu tax effort proved to be a bruising legislative fight, and the gas tax was a largely inconsequential incentive for fuel efficiency or conservation. Indeed, one of the main outcomes of the Btu fight was the Republicans were handed a wedge issue in the 1994 midterm elections in which House members who had voted in favor of the Btu tax were targeted for defeat. The failure to pass the Btu tax had a lasting impact on the White House’s enthusiasm for domestic measures that would directly affect energy prices, especially gasoline. An energy tax, favored by environmentalists, became the proverbial political “third rail.”

The Btu tax episode is illustrative of how the nature of the U.S. system makes it very difficult to achieve more comprehensive and coherent reform in energy policy. It is but one of many examples this country has seen over the past 25 years where interest groups across the political spectrum have mobilized to defeat far-reaching energy policy measures.

Boren held the critical swing vote and according to Rosenbaum’s May 31 story:

Until today, Mr. Boren, one of 11 Democrats on the committee, had been threatening to block the budget by joining the panel’s nine Republicans who have vowed to vote against the package. The Clinton plan was approved by the House of Representatives in a cliffhanger last week and indications were that it would face an even rougher road in the Senate.

But in a television interview, Mr. Boren said signals in the last few days that the White House and Mr. Moynihan would accept deeper spending cuts and modifications in the proposed energy tax “improved the chances by about 100 percent that we’re going to be able to work out an agreement.”

Mr. Moynihan, reached by telephone at his farm in upstate New York after the broadcast of the interview, said: “It is clear that Senator Boren sees that we have to have a deficit-reduction bill. We are going to have a bill more of the kind he has hoped for.”

But, the story continues:

Despite the favorable signs, the plan is not out of the woods yet for two important reasons.

First, as Mr. Boren said today, “the devil is in the details,” and the particulars of a compromise will be difficult to work out.

Second, Mr. Boren has been maddeningly fickle about where he stands, and he could change his mind overnight.

To force the issue, Boren:

joined forces with two moderate Republican Senators, John C. Danforth of Missouri and William S. Cohen of Maine, to offer an alternative plan that contained no energy tax and had much deeper spending cuts for Medicare and Social Security. … The alternative plan itself stands no chance of enactment. The word in the Capitol is that 20 Senators at most would vote for it. But it did provide somewhat of a basis for negotiations.

Mr. Boren has said he is not wedded to this alternative, although like many other lawmakers from energy-producing states he opposes the President’s proposed fuel tax because it would make products like petrochemicals much more expensive.

The story goes on to describe how Boren played games with Clinton.

Mr. Boren’s fickleness is a more complicated matter.

As soon as President Clinton announced his budget plan last February, Mr. Boren began to take shots at it. But 10 days later, he said in an interview that he supported the plan “unconditionally,” and added: “This is the best, most promising budget I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress.”

Early in the spring, he promised Mr. Clinton and Mr. Moynihan he would support the plan in the Finance Committee, but over the last few weeks, he has demanded concessions in return for his vote. Publicly, he has demanded deeper spending cuts. But privately, he has demanded fewer cuts in agriculture programs, which are important in Oklahoma.

In the June 16 article by Clifford Krauss, the reactions to Boren’s maneuverings are fully described:

At home in Oklahoma, Senator David L. Boren was once portrayed by newspaper cartoonists as the Pillsbury Doughboy. In the cloakrooms of the Senate, he was dismissed as a glad-hander who craved approval more than power.

That was before Mr. Boren went on a diet and reassessed his career after the death of his father, an irreverent Democratic Congressman who rebelled against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Then the Senator took on President Clinton’s economic package.

More than any other member of Congress, it was Mr. Boren who forced Mr. Clinton to abandon his broad tax on the energy content of fuels. First he threatened to withhold his swing vote on the Senate Finance Committee, and then, breaking an unspoken rule of Congressional conduct, he forcefully lobbied House Democrats to break with their leadership and President.

Further embarrassing the President and infuriating his Democratic colleagues, he is now threatening to withhold his vote unless they cut an additional $50 billion in spending in politically sensitive programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Like Paul Revere?

His critics — and there seem to be more every day — say he is a shill for big oil who is on an ego trip. Mr. Boren compares himself to Paul Revere, saying he is a man with a mission to save President Clinton from the Democratic Party’s liberal wing.

The 52-year-old Senator said in an interview on Monday that he expected to reach a compromise with the White House this week. But he added: “If we don’t, it wouldn’t be the end of the world because we would have to start over again, this time on a bipartisan basis. That could be better for the President and the country, though it would certainly mean an uncomfortable time for me.”

(Gee, it was all about him…sounds familiar)

By contrast, fellow Democrats accuse Mr. Boren of breaking his word to the President that he would stand by him. They note that he first enthusiastically backed Mr. Clinton’s budget, and even argued against farm-program spending cuts that would hurt his state. “People just wonder if a lot of the things he does is not for parochial interests,” said Representative Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of Brooklyn.

Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum, Democrat of Ohio, said: “There are many of us who are very upset with him. It’s obvious he would be more comfortable on the Republican side.”

Senator Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who is the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee, is so angry with Mr. Boren that he has discussed with several subcommittee chairmen ways of withholding money for military, farming and Indian-affairs programs in Oklahoma.

Mr. Boren concedes that he favors the interests of Oklahoma, and that he was too quick to speak in favor of Mr. Clinton’s economic proposals before he read the fine print. But he says the criticism comes mostly from liberals who are overly committed to spending programs that must be cut if the country is to regain its financial footing and competitiveness.

But Mr. Boren started burning bridges last month, on the day President Clinton tried to quell an uprising by House Democrats by dramatically traveling down Pennsylvania Avenue to plead with the Democratic caucus to stand by his program. Just as it appeared that Mr. Clinton had nipped the revolt in the bud, Mr. Boren threw a new obstacle in his way by announcing that a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans had designed an alternative budget plan with more budget cuts and fewer taxes.

The next day, Mr. Boren walked over to the House side of the Capitol to buck up moderate and conservative Democrats who were wavering under the intense White House lobbying. His tactics stood in stark contrast with those of Senator John B. Breaux of Louisiana, the other oil-state Finance Committee swing vote, who lobbied House members in favor of Mr. Clinton’s package, promising that changes would come later in the legislative process.

In the final article by Rosenbaum published on June 17, Boren “called the bill the senators approved “a great improvement” and added, “It keeps faith with the Democratic Party being on a new course, a centrist course.”

But the long-term effects on the country? The fuel tax would raise only a third of the original $72 billion over five years, far short of what the proposed energy tax would raise. The was little gained in terms of energy conservation and new measures to improve efficiency. To make up for the lost revenue and to put deficit reduction on track, the $50 billion cut in Medicare originally proposed by Clinton was increased by $19 billion. In addition, tax breaks for low-income workers were reduced as were some breaks for business aimed at stimulating investment.

******************************

So here we are in 2008, with Boren an adviser to Obama. Still convinced that Obama will be an agent of change?? Really??

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Part I: Nunn-Boren “Unity” Rears its Ugly Head on Behalf of Obama: With an Introduction to David L. Boren

UPDATE: Parts II and III to follow…

So, former Senators Sam Nunn and David Boren endorsed Obama today. It seemed like a convenient thing to do in light of Obama’s recent juvenile activities involving fingers. Both will now advise on national security. Nunn heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a charitable organization, as Co-Chair and CEO. Boren served as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. More on the very scary background of Boren later.

Of course, Nunn and Boren are the the epitome of what Obamaphiles looking for “change” are thirsting for!

Let’s see, Nunn’s record in the Senate includes: being a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC); voting NO on deducting Social Security payments from income taxes; voting YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage; voting Yes on limiting death penalty appeals; voting YES on limiting product liability punitive damage awards; voting YES on abstinence education funding; and an unknown stance on abortion rights.

Boren’s record is even more conservative. And scary, especially with regard to foreign policy. Sourcewatch, A Project of the Center for Media and Democacy, quotes from a 2001 article entitled “CIA Support for Bin Laden: Who’s Responsible?”:

“The current crisis calls for Americans to investigate the records of all Congress members who approved of any legislation enabling U.S. support for the Afghan rebels during the 1980s. Those who supported this hideous adventure deserve severe judgment.

“As an Oklahoman, I am particularly interested in the record of former Senator David Boren, whose close tie to the CIA is well known. He was appointed to the Intelligence Committee in 1985, and later became its Chairman.

“Boren also has close ties to the extreme right. Political Research Associates, a group whose purpose is to expose the threat to democracy presented by right-wing groups, includes Boren as a member of one of the organizations which they have targeted for concern.

“Boren was co-chairman of the Congressional divison of the National Coalition for Peace through Strength (CPTS), a creature of the American Security Council (ASC). The CPTS believed that the USSR and communism were the greatest evils in the world. Other CPTS members included Ronald Reagan, Phyllis Schlafley, and Jesse Helms. Organizational members have included the American Conservative Union, the American Legion, Citizens for Reagan, Young Americans for Freedom, and Young Republicans. PRA also says that emigre groups with a history of association with Nazis were included in the CPTS membership.

“One of the more prominent ASC members was Major General Milnor Roberts, chairman of the Committee for a Free Afghanistan (CFA). During the 1980s proxy war the CFA promoted U.S. support for the Islamic militants whose successors are now being accused of the September 11 attack.

“Boren has also been a close political ally and Congressional puppet for Eddie Gaylord, the reactionary publisher of The Daily Oklahoman, described as ‘the worst daily newspaper in America’ by a January 1999 article in the Columbia Journalism Review. In the same article, the Review reported that Boren as a Senator had sponsored ‘a one-of-a-kind, multimillion-dollar’ tax break that would benefit only eight wealthy investors — one of whom was Gaylord.

“Additionally, Boren’s relationship with former CIA director Robert Gates deserves critical scrutiny. Robert Gates was essentially a liar used by Reagan to corrupt the CIA away from its mission of providing the government with accurate assessments of Soviet strength. Under Gates, the CIA’s mission came to be the exaggeration of Soviet strength and expansionist tendencies while sabotaging the goal of detente. David Boren was an enthusiastic supporter of Gates and helped push through his nomination as CIA director.

“In a speech available online at the CIA website, Gates boasted about CIA success in Afghanistan, where it supported the anti-Soviet Mujahhadin. He admits that the CIA funneled billions of dollars in supplies and weapons to the Mujahhadin. Oddly enough, he forgot to mention that Bin Laden was one of the beneficiaries.”

Sure does inspire confidence, doesn’t it? He’s going to advise Obama, the great agent of CHANGE?? The one who was a GENIUS in saying he was against the Iraq War but didn’t have to vote on the resolution (but MAY have if he had been in the Senate)? And the one who has continued to vote to fund this unholy mess? And the one who agrees with Condi Rice on the “unpredictability” of planes ramming into tall buildings? The one who knows squat about foreign policy?

Nunn and Boren, if you recall, headed the Oklahoma “unity” conference in January of this year. As reported by Katrina Vanden Heuvel at the time,

“a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, including former Senators San Nunn, David Boren, Gary Hart. Senator Chuck Hagel, former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen and former GOP congressman Jim Leach also say they’ll attend. Boren, who’s hosting the meeting at the University of Oklahoma, says that if “we don’t see a refocusing of the campaign on a bipartisan approach, I would feel I would want to encourage an independent candidacy.”

Of course, Unity ’08 “scaled back” their operations and in their parting message opined:

Barack Obama, for example, has made the theme of unity and the necessity of bridging the partisan divide an absolutely central theme of his campaign. And just last week, a group of former and present national office holders – independents, Republicans and Democrats – met in Oklahoma for the sole purpose of stating their belief that at the present perilous moment, a unity government is the only hope of solving the nation’s mounting problems. When you have agreement among the likes of former RNC chairman Bill Brock and Gary Hart, you’re onto something.

So, it’s no surprise that Nunn and Boren have come out at this moment to deflect attention from Obama’s juvenile behavior and poor debate performance in Pennsylvania. As for being “onto something,” I would argue that this unity crew, including Obama, is onto NOTHING good.

Vanden Heuvel continued her comments by quoting Paul Krugman:

As NYT columnist Paul Krugman has argued effectively, “the real source of today’s partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues.” Today’s GOP has overseen the shredding of our already frayed social contract, and currently obsesses about giving the super-rich more tax breaks. There may be some smart people gathering next week in Oklahoma. But they don’t get it if they think you can have national unity with one party waging class war politics.

But I have to say that I think the comment on the World Socialist Web Site really nails it.

The “unity” demanded by Messrs. Boren, Hagel & Co. is essentially unity of the corporate elite against the working class. The billionaire Bloomberg is, therefore, an entirely logical rallying point. Possessed of the wealth required to launch a 50-state independent campaign, at a cost estimated at $500 million to $1 billion, Bloomberg’s message to both parties is: Don’t stray too far from the consensus positions of the financial oligarchy, or I can single-handedly upset all your electoral calculations.

The rhetoric of bipartisanship has also played a major role in the corporate media’s embrace of Barack Obama. There has been a frenzied media campaign over the past two weeks to transform Obama into an unstoppable frontrunner, an effort that was at least temporarily stalled Tuesday by Hillary Clinton’s narrow victory in New Hampshire.

Obama is a conventional bourgeois politician, dependent, like his rivals, on lavish financial support from corporate interests and the wealthy. He is not the product of any sort of genuine movement from below in American society, but rather the latest in a long line of demagogues employed to foster illusions that the big business-controlled political system can serve the interests of ordinary people. …

The campaign for bipartisanship thus has a distinctly antidemocratic and sinister aspect. It is an effort to discipline the political squabbling within the US ruling elite in order to face a far greater danger: an eruption of social conflict produced by the increasingly desperate conditions facing the vast majority of the American people.

Of course, the WSWS doesn’t approve of Clinton, either. But at least she talks like Democrat and hasn’t morphed into the Obama “Unity” campaign.

The Nunn-Boren endorsement is another signal to run from Obama. Because it’s getting harder and harder to place ANY trust in him at all, because, obviously, the bipartisan pooh-bahs DO.

Note: To post a comment, return to HOME and post to the specific article.

Is Jimmy Carter Letting Democratic Voters Down??

On Monday (April 14) I caught a brief comment by Jimmy Carter about the Nepal elections on the BBC World Service. Carter, who was in Nepal to monitor the polling, said that whatever problems occurred had “paled” compared to the overall success of the vote. (Unfortunately, the audio report is no longer available.)

In a report issued on April 15 entitled Trip Report by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Nepal: April 6-14, 2008, Carter wrote in great detail about all the efforts made to ensure a free and fair election.

We have maintained a staff of long-term election observers for more than fifteen months. They have visited all 75 districts and had an opportunity to become familiar with the entire nation and its various and conflicting political factions.

After our arrival from Atlanta, we joined Dr. John Hardman and began receiving extensive briefings from former U.S Ambassador Peter Burleigh, David Pottie, Darren Nance, Sarah Levit-Shore, and others. Most of our 60 international observers, from 21 nations, had been deployed to the more remote areas by helicopter, all-terrain vehicles, and by foot. My co-chairman was Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, former deputy prime minister of Thailand, who was a key partner and essential to the mission’s success. Our team was joined by international observers from the European Union, Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), and by several thousand domestic observers. …

On election day we visited as many polling sites as possible in the valley that surrounds Kathmandu and found the election commission’s procedures were being largely followed. There were long and separate lines of men and women in a celebratory mood, the total turnout being above 60 percent. Despite some problems, our observers throughout the nation found the same situation among a total of 400 sites visited. Ballot boxes were required to be delivered to 75 central locations for counting, and we observed a number of these procedures.

Impressive, no?

But how does this square with Carter’s silence on the Florida and Michigan primary situation?? Well, he hasn’t been TOTALLY silent, because in early April he tossed out a tantalizing hint as to whom he supported while in Nigeria:

Former President Carter hints at Obama support

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Carter wouldn’t quite say it, but he left little doubt this week about whom he’d like to see in the White House next year.

Speaking to local reporters Wednesday on a trip to Nigeria, the former Democratic president noted that Barack Obama had won his home state of Georgia and his hometown of Plains.

“My children and their spouses are pro-Obama. My grandchildren are also pro-Obama,” he said at a news conference, according to the Nigerian newspaper This Day. “As a superdelegate, I would not disclose who I am rooting for, but I leave you to make that guess.”

Carter’s spokeswoman confirmed the remarks.

Now, of course, Carter offers a perfectly good reason to support Obama since the latter won the Georgia contest; Carter can justifiably claim that he is supporting the will of the voters in his home state.

But that support does NOT explain why he has been silent on the issue of the voters of Michigan and Florida being disenfranchised. Isn’t it ironic that a man who has dedicated himself to monitoring 70 elections has nothing to say about what’s been going on during his own party’s primary season?

This is the same man who, along with the late Gerald Ford, headed a blue-ribbon commission following the 2000 election and followed up in September 2004 with a Washington Post op-ed entitled Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote in which he pointed out that many of the elements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 which resulted from the commission findings were not being carried out either because of funding shortfalls or political games.

The question is, why has Jimmy Carter chosen to remain silent now, while Florida (and Michigan) voters are AGAIN being given short-shrift? Why is Carter not publicly calling for these votes to be counted?

It certainly is within his rights to choose to support Obama…but it seems that this support is TRUMPING the rights of voters in Florida and Michigan.

While it is inspiring to read about the care and planning that the Carter Center has expended on the voting process in Nepal, why can’t Democratic voters expect the same attention? Doesn’t voting in Florida and Michigan carry as much value as a vote in Nepal?? Is Jimmy Carter letting us down?