Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

July 20, 2001

IN A HORSE RACE, a steed that gets off to a fast start is said to be showing "early foot." In the Democratic derby for the Oregon gubernatorial nomination in the May 2002 primary election, Theodore R. Kulongoski showed early foot by merely announcing his candidacy.

In announcing, Ted K. resigned as an associate justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, a position to which he'd been elected in l996 for a six-year term. The 60-year-old Kulongoski's early foot stems from the fact that he has run more times in statewide elections than any candidate for governor in either major political party. His name familiarity with the Beaver State's voters is both current and residual. In Oregon, name familiarity is an important factor in winning elections.

Prior to Kulongoski's elevation to the state's highest court in 1996, he was elected as state attorney general in 1992. In 1982 he was defeated in the gubernatorial race by incumbent Republican Governor Vic Atiyeh, and in 1980 he lost a close election for U. S. senator to incumbent Republican Senator Bob Packwood.

KULONGOSKI SERVED as a high-level state government executive in Democratic Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's Administration from 1987-9l . In the 1970s and '80s he was elected from Lane County to the Oregon Legislature as a state representative and as a state senator. He's practiced law in Eugene and Portland and has served as general counsel of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

In Portland, he's been a deputy district attorney for Multnomah County, and the executive director of Metropolitan Family Service, a non-profit social service agency.

The former legislator, attorney general and judge grew up in an orphanage in Missouri, and went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps, where he was a Corps-wide boxing champion.


THE CIRCUS CONTINUES at the Port of Portland, a state agency that likes to operate as if it were a private business. Port commissioners hired a head-hunting company to recruit applicants for the agency's top post of executive director. That job was vacated two months ago by Mike Thorne, who gave up his $244,000 position to run for the Democratic nomination for governor in the May 2002 primary election.

In announcing that the port was going global in its search for a new director, the Port Commission's new president, attorney Jay Waldron, was quoted as saying: "I believe there should be some very qualified local candidates, but boy would I welcome somebody from Pago Pago."

If "somebody from Pago Pago" applied for the port job prior to the July 3 deadline, it would be a super-surprise. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, situated in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia. It has fewer people than can be counted standing in line at the Portland Airport on an average day.

THE PORT OF SEATTLE went global more than decade or so ago in its search for a new boss and hired a man from Europe.He didn't last too long.

If the Port of Portland does employ a foreigner as its new executive director, it would provide us with a trivia question: Who's the highest-paid "green card"-holder in Oregon?

Before departing from the port, it should be mentioned that when Mike Thorne was catching criticism for his high salary, bonus and questionable decision to sell the ship repair yard that subsequently cost us the biggest dry dock in the Western Hemisphere, a former port executive and a former port commissioner took to the public prints to claim that Thorne was the best executive director in their memory. That says less about Thorne than it does about the inadequacies of some of the clowns who preceded him in the port's circus tent.


THE NATIONAL MEDIA have fallen in love with Dick Cheney, who occupies the nation's vice presidency on the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court's Republican majority appointing George W. Bush as president.

The media has gone ga-ga over the 60-year-old Cheney's ongoing medical saga. The latest chapter involved Cheney receiving a defibrillator to monitor and correct his heart rhythms. He's had heart problems since he was 37.

One TV network's cheerleader said something about Cheney being a fighter who'd fought a war, referring to the Gulf War of the presidency of George Bush the Elder. Cheney was not a front-line soldier in that war - he was the Pentagon's boss as secretary of defense. When Cheney was of soldiering age he dodged the Vietnam War with a series of student and marriage deferments.

IT IS IRONIC that Cheney received his highly expensive heart device at a time when he and George W. Bush were jawboning against a strong patients' rights bill. Bush and Cheney don't have to worry about their rights as patients or the size of their medical bills. They have the best health maintenance organization of all - the United States taxpayers, who ultimately foot the bills of the socialized medicine enjoyed by them and others in the high echelons of government.

As for the 44 million Americans who can't afford health insurance and whose employers don't provide it, Bush and Cheney have no remedy and little sympathy.


WHEN DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER left the White House in January 1961, the outgoing president and World War II five-star general gave the citizens of the United States this warning:

"In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Forty years after Republican President Eisenhower made that statement, as he turned over the reins of office to Democrat John F. Kennedy, the 2001 personification of the military-industrial complex is Richard (Dick) Cheney, who holds the office of vice president in Republican George W. Bush's Administration.

AS WAS NOTED earlier in this column, Cheney avoided serving in military uniform but he nonetheless held the powerful appointed post of secretary of defense in the government of the first Bush president, George H. W. Bush, father of the current court-appointed chief executive.

(It was the ill-fated decision of Defense Secretary Cheney, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, President Bush the Elder and others that stopped Bush's Gulf War without invading Baghdad and deposing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam, as the elder Bush called him, was permitted to remain in office, and still thumbs his nose at the United States.)

While Cheney, a former Wyoming congressman, bossed the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U. S. military, he funneled enough defense contracts to the Halliburton Company of Dallas that the grateful Texas conglomerate later hired him as its chief executive officer and made him a millionaire nearly 30 times over. In addition to being a defense contractor, Halliburton is one of the largest oil industry service companies, and has been a major non-union construction contractor through its Brown & Root subsidiary.

Now that Cheney is back in Washington, D.C., he's using his influence as vice president to push for major military-industrial expenditures.

Don't look for Tom Brokaw's Nightly News on NBC-TV to report anything negative about Cheney because his former Pentagon flack, Pete Williams, is now one of NBC's top reporters.


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