Summit Looks In All The Wrong Places

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"We are going to get George W. Bush re-elected as president of the United States! We are going to carry New York City and New York State. Everybody thinks I'm crazy, but I think we can do it.”—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent

“You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that's consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that's been all about division and instead make it about addition - to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that's how we'll win in November, and that's how we'll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation.”—U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat

Was The Summit A Bust?

The big “bipartisan summit” in Norman started out with a media bang but ended with a whimper.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, once a Democrat, then a Republican and now supposedly an independent, apparently told everyone there he was not going to run for president. Meanwhile, the summit’s participants, Democrats and Republicans, issued a statement that broke no new ground really and actually just echoed what presidential contender Barack Obama and some others have been arguing on the campaign trail now for months.

According to a news report, the summit, organized by University of Oklahoma President David Boren, came to this bland conclusion: Presidential candidates should spell out “specific strategies for reducing polarization and reaching bipartisan consensus.” So this is all we get after all the demands and media hoopla?

(Here is The New York Times take on the summit. Here is some online material produced by those involved with it.)

Boren, a former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, and Sam Nunn, a former Georgia U.S. Senator, were co-sponsors of the event. Both were considered conservative Democrats during their political careers. A bevy of retired politicians, most of whom served their country in the days before the right-wing noise machine started to define America politics with bogus wedge issues, personal attacks and lies, attended the summit as well.

Some might grant the summit’s organizers were well intentioned and not just providing political cover for Imperial President George Bush supporter Bloomberg to attempt to buy the American presidency. But the summit only raised more issues about its intention. Here are three:

(1) Why did Boren, Nunn and the others wait until now to raise this issue of bipartisanship? Obviously, the tyrannical reign of Imperial Bush has been the number the reason the country is so divided these days. Why wait until the election year? Why didn’t Boren and crew do this after the 2006 elections or before and call on Bush to make changes in his reckless foreign policy agenda and political appointments? Consequently the summit seemed targeted at Democrats. Current polls show Democrats will do much better in the 2008 elections than Republicans. (Obviously, there is a long way to go before the votes are counted, and this might not hold true.) Are Boren and Nunn actually afraid the country might elect a Democrat (maybe even an African American Democrat at that) who will bring about real change? What do they possibly see in a pseudo-Republican/Independent, such as billionaire Bloomberg, who would only protect the interests of corporations and continue the country’s long, gruesome occupation in Iraq. Bloomberg has been a staunch supporter of the Iraq occupation and Bush. Doesn’t that make him as divisive and conservative as, say, presidential contender Rudy Giuliani?

(2) I call on the summit’s participants to personally answer this question: Why do you want to continue to marginalize those people who were 100 percent right about the Iraq invasion and ensuing occupation and spoke out about it with great risk to ourselves and our families? Many of us suffered through retaliation by the right-wing and still do in places such as Oklahoma, where conservatives, even if they call themselves Democrats, hold sway. Meanwhile, those who were wrong about the occupation remain ensconced in power here and elsewhere. (I think of how The New York Times just hired William Kristol, an ultra-conservative who was completely wrong about Iraq, as a columnist.) Are you saying, bigwig summit participants, that those who spoke the truth should now shut up and let those who were wrong continue to operate the government and hold powerful media positions, all in the spirit of bipartisanship? Are you saying we should not protest the occupation as did a small group at the summit Monday. If so, then I question your intentions. Do you want a government and culture in which those who are right and truthful about important national issues can participate fully or do you want the same status quo you seem to be criticizing?

(3) Again, Michael Bloomberg is not a centrist or independent. True, Bloomberg is a moderate on social issues, such as reproductive rights for women, but he has pretty much been a staunch supporter of Imperial Bush, who is the most destructive president in American history. This disqualifies him as a true independent candidate. In addition, the idea that Bloomberg could simply buy the presidency with his billions should be repugnant to all Americans. I argue this act alone—one person buying the presidency simply because he has the money and hubris and gall—would destroy any remaining vestiges of democracy this county might still possess after the Imperial Bush disaster.

This country needs change. Big change. If those Republicans who supported the Imperial Bush administration in the past can find the courage to publicly repudiate its lies and illegal acts, then by all means let’s work together with bipartisan spirit. But the repudiation must come first. Without it, this country will never come together, no matter how many summits, no matter how much hollow political rhetoric. Truth comes first, then politics.

Where’s The Snark?

Usually, when the weather turns unexpectedly cold, The Daily Oklahoman runs a snarky, unsigned editorial arguing or mentioning how global warming does not exist. This is the newspaper’s disingenuous way to support its favorite politician, one of the most despised persons in the world, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has devoted his recent career to making Oklahoma the laughingstock of the world. Inhofe calls global warming a “hoax.”

Okay, so a record high temperature of 75 was set in Oklahoma on Sunday. It is winter. It is 75. So where is The Oklahoman snark about how Inhofe is all wrong about global warming since it got hot one day during the winter?

The obvious point here is you cannot gauge climate change based on the temperature for any given day, but try to tell this to Inhofe or the simpleton, warmongering editorial writers over on the Broadway Extension.

Tax Cuts Threaten Education, State Programs

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Oklahoma could soon face “enormous difficulties” meeting its budget obligations because of declining tax revenues, according to the Alliance For Oklahoma’s Future, a state think tank.

“With only minuscule revenue growth to work with, the Governor and Legislature will face enormous difficulties finding the funds to address even basic budgetary obligations for the year ahead,” according to a release issued this week by the progressive leaning organization.

The Oklahoma Board of Equalization recently met and estimated the state would only have an extra $32 million to appropriate during the 2008 legislative session. This is a relatively tiny 0.5 percent increase over the $7.035 billion amount appropriated last year. The cost of funding state government normally increases 4 to 5 percent each year because of inflation and new funding mandates, according to the organization.

“It is still too early to know whether available revenues will prove adequate to fully fund a current services budget for FY '09 (continuing existing programs at current levels),” the organization notes. “If not, the Governor and the Legislature will have to confront more difficult choices, which could include some combination of tapping the Rainy Day Fund, imposing targeted or broad-based budget cuts, or identifying new revenue sources that can muster legislative approval.”

The state legislature has cut taxes recently, and these cuts and other factors have resulted in the revenue drop. The legislature has declined to replace the tax loss by creating new or bolstering existing revenue streams. Although some legislators might have believed Oklahoma’s recent growing economy would make up for the revenue loss, other politicians simply want to irresponsibly cut taxes regardless of the effect on education and state government programs. This ultimately harms the state’s economic development and quality of life, which are inextricably intertwined. Oklahoma’s ultra conservative corporate power structure and media have supported the tax cuts in recent years.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren, the alliance and other individuals and organizations have correctly called for a moratorium on tax cuts this year given the budget situation. Higher education, in particular, usually suffers the most in years of static or declining revenues, and then college students face rising tuition rates.

The state should not cut taxes this coming session given the current budget predictions.

The corporate power structure and media outlets in the state should get off the tax-cutting bandwagon this year so the state can fund its basic programs and obligations. If the budget predictions hold or get worse, continued corporate sponsorship of tax cuts should be considered reckless and irresponsible.

Editorial Distorts Bloomberg Soiree

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On Thursday, The Daily Oklahoman published one of its trademark, unsigned snarky editorials that sort of praised University of Oklahoma President David Boren for organizing an upcoming summit to supposedly discuss the need for bipartisanship in American politics.

The phrase “sort of praised” is necessary because the editorial (The Boren identity: Ex-senator back in the political realm,” January 3, 2008) begins with arguing Boren “has a new mission that strays from his university duties.” Is there an implicit criticism there? The editorial then ridiculously hints that, really, the whole summit is a Democratic Party “soiree.” Then it ultimately concludes the summit is a “worthy endeavor.”

The editorial is a perfect example of how the newspaper tries to brainwash its readers by leaving out crucial information, ignoring what the rest of the world thinks, and pushing the definition of “left” and “centrist” so far to the “right” that these terms hold no useful meaning.

The editorial leaves out, for example, that the summit, scheduled for Jan. 6 and 7 at the OU campus, is obviously designed to give New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg political cover to run for president as an independent if he chooses to do. It also fails to tell its readers that Bloomberg is a former Republican and a staunch supporter of Imperial President George Bush.

The editorial ignores the commentary from the national press about the summit, some of which clearly indicates Bloomberg is pulling some of the strings behind the meeting. (You must always read outside The Oklahoman to get any sense of the truth about local, state and national political events, but this time it goes beyond the usual absurdity.)

Both Boren, a former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, and the summit’s co-host, former Georgia U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, were considered conservative Democrats in their political days by most people. But the editorial defines the summit’s guest list as “Democrats” and “moderate-to-liberal Republicans.” And, again, everyone knows Bloomberg—the real reason for the summit—has proven to be an extreme conservative in recent years, a Bush lapdog, toady to the most destructive president in American history.

For example, it is well documented Bloomberg has long been an ardent Iraq occupation supporter. In 2004, he said, "We are going to get George W. Bush re-elected as president of the United States! We are going to carry New York City and New York State. Everybody thinks I'm crazy, but I think we can do it.” Are those the words of an independent, a centrist?

This Bushbot billionaire, who could conceivably try to buy the presidency by funding his own campaign, wants your tax dollars to pay for more useless bombing of Iraq to increase the bottom line of the nation's war profiteers. Somehow, though, he is now an independent attending a Democratic Party “soiree” arranged by a college president who “strays from his university duties.” The editorial is a sham. What else is new, right?

Nothing but a true progressive election sweep in 2008 will bring about needed change in this country. Do you think the country’s big corporations and oligarchy are going to give up their unparalleled power in American politics through bipartisan agreements and with supposed centrist candidates?

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