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Heckler's Corner

(Postings from the Minnesota e-democracy forum in June 2008)

"Let me add to this discussion the fact that there will soon be a candidate for U.S. Senate for Minnesota's third largest party, the Independence Party.  Current contenders for endorsement at this Saturday's convention include Steve Williams (a farmer from Austin, Minn., and former Minneapolis resident), Kurt Anderson (a Minneapolis attorney and former DFL congressional candidate), and myself (a Minneapolis resident and subscriber to this forum).  In the wings is yet another possible candidate, former Governor Jesse Ventura, a man with a solid record of fairness and good government while serving as Governor of Minnesota.  Additionally, he's the only person ever to have beaten Norm Coleman in an election.

If I get the IP endorsement, you'll see a campaign focusing on the economic future of Minnesota, the nation, and the world. What do we do about the $710 annual trade deficit?  How about $4 per gallon gas prices?  It's time for some straight talk on these topics.  The economy is going down the tubes.

The trade deficit has two main causes:  (1) imported petroleum products, (2) outsourcing of manufacturing production to low-wage countries.  

To address those long-term problems, I advocate a crash program, aided by tax credits and subsidies, to develop alternative sources of energy, especially wind power.  We need to convert from gasoline-powered cars to hybrids, electric cars, and cars powered by hydrogen.  We need to experiment with alternative technologies in public transit, including PRT and smart jitneys.

With respect to outsourcing, I advocate that the trading system be revised in its entirety.  The free-trade imperative is obsolete in an era where much trade is intracorporate or between major retailers and closely related contractors.  I favor increased use of tariffs, both to create a certain cost buffer for our own highly paid workers and a regulatory tool that governments can use to encourage increased wages and reduced work hours in other countries.  This can be done in an environment of cooperation among peoples in different parts of the world.

We must also recognize how military expenditures are hurting our country economically.  We cannot afford this any more.  It's important to get out of Iraq as soon as it is humanely possible and also not bomb Iran and further inflame world opinion against us.  In my opinion, we also need to close many of our expensive military bases around the world.  The more hopeful future involves moving the United Nations into the role of world policeman.  We have little credibility in that role any more after the disastrous Bush years.

These are some of the things I want to talk about.  We're in a crisis.  Instead of "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic", we need to avoid the ice berg looming ahead.

So, while the Norm Coleman vs. Al Franken match is interesting, a political campaign should really be about options for our future.

You can find more information about my campaign at http://www.newindependenceparty.org."


William McGaughey June 19, 2008  10:33 a.m.


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“I wonder how this convention went. Did they endorse anyone? Last night on Almanac, Dean Barkley seemed to completely avoid the subject when questioned about Jesse Ventura, who's been blustering about the possibility of running as and Independent. I still have faith in Minnesotans to choose Al Franken over two failures, however, since that is what both our former governor and future former senator are. Time will tell if they will stand for another third party spoiler and let their worst fear take office. Makes one year for statewide IRV.” 
 

Bill Kahn   June 21, 2008  6:51 a.m.

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"The convention is this afternoon.  I take issue with the statement that Jesse Ventura's term as Governor was a "failure".  In fact, he had many accomplishments.  The Independence Party draws equally from Democrats and Republicans.  The "spoiler" argument is mere whining from DFLers who feel entitled to all non-Republican votes.  The DFL should win elections by presenting better programs for government, not by besmirching the motives of others on the ballot.  Politics has sunk to a low level.  That's why more and more people call themselves politically independent."


William McGaughey  June 21, 2008  10:03 am.

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"Jesse Ventura's reign as governor was more failure than success.  Yes he did what was needed to be successful by appointing bipartisan qualified leaders of the Executive Branch.  But that is where it ended.  He had no clue how to deal with the Legislature.

I can also safely say that much of Minnesota's fiscal problems stem from his reign as Governor."

Mike Fratto June 21, 2008  1:08 p.m.

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"There was also property tax relief.  When state government had surplus revenues, Gov. Ventura chose to give most of it back to the taxpayers.  I know that isn't popular with many who have their eyes on this money, but I think it was a responsible decision."


William McGaughey  June 22, 208  10:33 a.m.


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"According to IP's site some guy names Stephen Williams is seeking the IP endorsement for US Senate. http://www.mnip.org/candidates.shtml. Stephen is in the IP's "Candidates Seeking Endorsement" section and Bill isn't.  http://www.prairiefireusa.com

Stephen sounds like a Fair Taxer except instead of income tax he's using payroll tax. He wants to move Medicare, Social Security, Workmans Comp employee insurance to a Sales tax which ** won't be successful because it doesn't match up to the same people **. The idea from which he is borrowing, moving an individual US income tax to a national sales tax, aka Fair tax, makes more sense.

Stephen is misguided on immigration. Not sure what nationalizing health insurance means. Single payer?  He sounds light weight.

Did this guy debate you Saturday, Bill?

Jamie Delton  June 22, 2008 5:36 p.m.


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“Yes, Stephen Williams of Austin, Minn. was endorsed for U.S. Senate at the Independence Party convention yesterday.  His opponents for the endorsement were Kurt Anderson and me.  I don't know why Steve was the only candidate mentioned on the IP website or why my message mentioning the three candidates was truncated.

Yes, I did debate Williams and Anderson at an IP meetup on Monday at the community house near Lake Nokomis.  We did not have much chance to compare our views at the convention.

From my point of view, the main event at the convention was an attempt by several of the party leaders to push for "no endorsement".  Endorsed candidates were required to get 60% of the vote or more and "no endorsement" was one of the options.  I used part of my 10-minute candidate speech to oppose that effort.  When Steve Williams led after the first round of voting, I withdrew as a candidate and Williams was endorsed in the next round.

Yes, the prospective candidacy of Jesse Ventura was much on the delegates' mind.  But none of us knew what Jesse will do so we had to proceed as if he were not a candidate.  There's no doubt that he would win the IP primary for U.S. Senate if he chooses to become a candidate and most of us would welcome that event.

I'm pleased to say that my name was put in nomination by "Red" Nelson, a realtor who once owned and managed the Scholar coffee house in Dinkytown where Bob Dylan got his start.  Peter Tharaldson, able chair of the 5th District IP and chair of the convention, also supported my candidacy.  But in the end Anderson and I came up short.  Williams had been campaigning for this endorsement since he lost the IP endorsement at the convention in 2006.  He's a likable man with a serious message.

Tinklenberg, former mayor of Blaine and MN DOT commissioner under Ventura, spoke to the convention and was endorsed.  He is an attractive candidate for Congress in the 6th District who stands a good chance of getting elected.”


William McGaughey   June 22, 2008  10:27 a.m.


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“Give it up McGaughey, you're all wet.”

Leslie Davis  June 22, 2008  2:11 p.m.

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“‘Give it up McGaughey, you're all wet.  - Leslie Davis’ 

Leslie Davis, a well-known activist in Minneapolis, posted this message earlier today.  I was going to respond with an equally insulting remark; but, due to the 12-hour posting rule and delay, I had time to think it over & settle on another approach.

Let me say only that Davis’ hate-led approach to public discussion represents a waste of energy and talent.  I am unaware of having hurt or offended Davis in any way.  I have, however, expressed support for the Independence Party of Minnesota and some of its representatives including former Gov. Jesse Ventura whom Davis hates with a passion.

Jesse may return to politics, and that may fuel a further round of vitriolic comments from Leslie Davis.  In the future, I will try to ignore them.  But I do wish to acknowledge today’s outburst.  

Not cool.”

William McGaughey  June 22, 2008  11:34 p.m.

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“I know you well McGaughey and my comment wasn't an outburst, it was a well thought out accurate statement.

You're a prolific writer with an arrogant penchant for thinking you know more than others when you are a mere mortal like the rest of us. In all the writings that I have read of yours I have never heard one single new or good idea about anything. Simply meaningless observations.

Your vicious attack upon me by accusing me of a "hate-led approach to public discussion" is unfair and tears away your disguise as some sort of fair-minded intellect when you are no more than a basic Minneapolis bigot.

I don't "hate" Jesse Ventura with a passion. I dislike him for what he has inclicted upon the people, the lies he has told and the damage he has caused. And my discourse with Ventura has never displayed hate of any sort. You are trying to turn people against me with your poison pen because you know that I do more for public discourse in one week than you have done in your entire life.

Please list for this group your accomplishments for the public. Tell us all your accomplishments. What you have given to help others. Your charitable record. Please tell us anything you have ever done but read stuff and right a  comment about it. Tell us how you spend your daze in your paint peeling duplex when you're not writing gibberish and mocking others.

I challenge you to put your public record up against mine. Pick up the gauntlet Mr. Mouth.”

For the people,

Leslie Davis  June 23, 2008  1:03 a.m.

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“I have no desire to perpetuate a personal argument on this forum but do feel compelled to respond to certain of Leslie Davis’ comments about me in a posted message yesterday.  

Davis wrote, among other things:  ‘I know you well McGaughey ... You're a prolific writer with an arrogant penchant for thinking you know more than others ... In all the writings that I have read of yours I have never heard one single new or good idea about anything. Simply meaningless observations ... Please list for this group your accomplishments for the public. Tell us all your accomplishments ... Pick up the gauntlet Mr. Mouth.’

I am a relatively prolific writer and, whether or not my writings are meaningless observations is for others to judge.  But I must respond because Davis is saying he knows me well - presumably the writings as well - and what I do or think is mostly trash.  He does not know me well.  Yet, readers of this forum will assume that there may be some truth to his accusations. (People these days sometimes think that statements of a general conclusion are fact, even if unsupported by any evidence.)  His comments therefore amount to defamation.

As evidence that someone besides myself thinks my writings are worthwhile, I would submit the following:

I have had opinion articles published in the New York Times (11/13/79) and the Christian Science Monitor (12/22/82 & 10/23/90) as well as other national and local newspapers.

MIT professor Noam Chomsky called my book on trade “a useful work” in an article published in the Nation on March 13, 1993.

A book that I wrote on world history was favorably reviewed in major newspapers in Pakistan, India, China, and Nigeria.

This book was also translated into Chinese.  It was the Shandong Pictorial Book Company’s biggest seller in the history category in 2004.

I have coauthored a book on economics with the late U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy that was published by Praeger in 1989. (ISBN 0-275-92514-5)  I assume McCarthy would not have put his name to what he considered an inferior or poorly expressed point of view.

It’s true that my more recent writings on Twin Cities housing issues have not been published in major newspapers perhaps because their point of view is unpopular in the cities’ political culture, but those who are interested can read some of them at a website, http://www.landlordpolitics.com.  Make your own judgment.

Davis challenged me to compare my record of public service to his.  I am less familiar with his record but assume that Davis would be more than willing to point out its virtuous features.  So let him speak on the subject.

I’m done.  I hope this is the end of that particular conversation.”

William McGaughey  June 23, 2008  9:09 a.m.

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"Facts I want you to know about Jesse Ventura

by Leslie Davis

"Lied about being a Navy SEAL, lied about being in Vietnam, and lied about 
being in combat. He does not have the Combat Action Ribbon.  SEAL Commander Salisbury says (in my book "Always Cheat") that Ventura was a phony SEAL.

Told single moms that they were on their own regarding government help.

Told University of Minnesota students to, “win if you can, lose if you must, but ALWAYS CHEAT.”

Insulted people who were religious, overweight or mentally ill.

Killed caged birds at a game farm shooting gallery with Maria Shriver in 1998.

Supported a raid at Highway 55 where more than 600 police arrested 17 peaceful protesters and tortured many of them. Henry Fieldseth was one of the people tortured. Henry was handcuffed and pepper spray material was put in his eyes.

Told young people that if they were smart enough to go to college they should be able to figure out how to pay for it. Yet when he went to school the government paid for him.

Told marijuana supporters that he supported them. Enough young people liked what he said about pot, even if they didn't smoke, and they showed up on election day and put him over the top. Check it out and you will see that the pot head vote put him in office.

Told Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson that you haven’t hunted until you've hunted man.  The only man Ventura may have hunted would have been in a Hennepin Avenue bookstore.

Was a terrible governor for the environment. He appointed a local gas company executive to head the state Pollution Control Agency.Canceled the auto emission testing program. Allowed animal factories throughout the state to expand and failed to implement a proper energy plan for the state.

Drove out of office, Dept. of Employee Relations Commissioner Karen Carpenter and Ethics Office Sandra Hyllengren for pointing out that he was a state "employee" and certain outside activities would be illegal. Steven Bosacker, Ventura's sexual predator Chief of Staff, now Mpls. city coordinator, led the charge on this. I have the correspondence.

Mismanaged state finances. The economic downturn was apparent before 9/11 but Ventura was too busy promoting his private money making ventures. The tax cuts and rebates he promoted broke the State of Minnesota. The State Investment Board suffered while he was on the Board.

BRIBERY AND PAYOFFS

Jesse Ventura: bribed Bill Dahn to leave the Reform Party in July 1998. Dahn had registered to run for governor in the Reform Party in order to complain about an improper government sponsored insulation program that contaminated his house. Ventura wanted Dahn out of the Reform Party so he wouldn’t have competition in the September primary election and could keep his KFAN radio show. He lost the show anyway because Dick Franson warned KFAN that he would complain to the feds if they let Ventura stay on the air without giving equal time to his opponents. Doug Friedline and, secretary Mavis Huddle arranged for Ventura and campaign committee chairman Dean Barkley to go to Dahn’s house on July 19, 1998 and promise to fix his house if he would leave the Reform Party and register as a Republican. The media reported that the bribe was a $600 fee Barkley paid for Dahn to register as a Republican after leaving the Reform Party. It was not. The bribe was the promise to fix Dahn’s house. I have significant evidence that Barkley worked to fulfill the bribe. However, after Ventura was elected Barkley lost interest in Dahn and Dahn lost his house.


FIXED THE BRIBERY INVESTIGATION

Complaints were filed against Barkley and Ventura for bribing Dahn and Ventura and Barkley fixed the investigation of the bribe. Two complaints were filed with Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner. When Gaertner received the complaints she should have immediately declared a conflict of interest because her employee/lover John Wodele was a personal friend of Dean Barkley. Gaertner held the case until after Ventura was elected and in December she declared a conflict of interest and sent the case to Anoka County to be fixed.


PARTICIPANTS IN THE BRIBERY FIX

Charlie Weaver (former Anoka County prosecutor who Hatch beat for AG)
Phil Villaume (Barkley attorney and brother-in-law)
Thomas Heffelfinger (Ventura attorney, former U.S. Attorney)
Dean Barkley (Ventura campaign manager
James Weber (Anoka County prosecutor)
Susan Gaertner (Ramsey County Attorney)
John Wodele (Gaertner employee lover)
Charles Balck (Assistant Ramsey County Attorney)

This group fixed the results and Weber announced them on December 31, 1998 
(New Years Eve Day).Gaertner caused it to take 161 days to get a decision on the bribery 
complaints.

December 28, 1998, in advance of the bribery decision, unemployed John 
Wodele, boyfriend of crooked county attorney Gaertner, was rewarded for
helping with the fix by being named Ventura's Communications Director.

December 31, 1998, Anoka County prosecutor James Weber dismissed the bribery complaints against Barkley and Ventura.

January 2, 1999, unemployed Charlie Weaver was appointed Commissioner of Public Safety as his reward for fixing the bribery case in Anoka County. Barkley set up Weaver for the fix by having him appointed to Ventura’s transition advisory committee on November 17, 1998.

February 4, 1999, James Weber, Anoka County prosecutor who dismissed the bribery complaints, was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Selection."

Leslie Davis  June 25, 2008  4:27 p.m.


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"Leslie Davis’ latest post regarding Jesse Ventura is better than some of his previous ones.  It makes the case that Ventura is a bad person in some detail, with many supporting facts.  It’s good to have “citizen journalists” like Davis “keeping them honest” when the commercial media seem unwilling to do that.  On the other hand, I don’t think the case against Ventura is as watertight as Davis would have us believe.  I do not have additional facts to refute what he wrote but do wish to comment on some of the points made.

First, let me say that I tend to dismiss criticisms based on Ventura’s public statements.  He has a right to his opinions.  As long as Ventura puts his name to those statements and doesn’t try to force others to accept them, I’m fine with the statements. He’s exercising his right of free speech.  You may personally dislike his opinions but don’t try to suggest that everyone should think the same way as you.

Ventura, as we know, came out of the pro-wrestling world.  It’s understood that this is fake wrestling and that show-biz hype is part of the game.  When Ventura made outrageous statements as he often did, I think he was carrying forward that part of his personality.  The public understood that.  I think part of his appeal was that Jesse was not like the other politicians who used guarded speech and said kind words to various constituencies and then betrayed the public interest.  He said what he thought or what many people were thinking but did not dare to say.  This was refreshing.  It also strengthened our tradition of free political speech.

One of the worst aspects of contemporary politics is that people are regularly demonized by what they say rather than what they do.  We have a practice of “group think” known as political correctness that shapes our sense of right and wrong.  We have intolerance masquerading as tolerance.  This is a poison in our political system, contributing to much divisiveness.  Liberals or “progressives”, as they call themselves now, are primarily guilty of this, but conservatives increasingly display the same characteristics.  

Jesse Ventura has become a target of demonization for people who not only disliked his political views but also disliked him for the type of person he was - a burly, hyper-male, somewhat cantankerous individual who refused to submit to norms imposed by the media and other of our political opinion makers.  Yet, Jesse won, and his critics never forgave him for that.  For me, it was a sign that freedom is still alive in our country, even in Minnesota.

Now to the substance of Davis’ criticisms --

The most serious point is the allegation that Ventura and others bribed Bill Dahm to take his name off the Reform Party ballot and reregister as a Republican.  This was a crime needing to be punished.  Yet, the fact is that the case was referred to the Anoka County prosecutor.  That prosecutor, James Weber, dismissed the charges.  It may be either that he dismissed them because the case did not have merit or, as Davis suggests, because the “fix” was in.  Davis names nine individuals whom he calls “participants in the bribery fix”.  That label may be a little strong.

Without having the facts, I would not want to say that dishonest prosecutions do not occur in our system of justice or did not occur in this case.  But the fact that Ventura later appointed Weber to the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Selection does not prove that Weber was bribed to drop the corruption charge against Ventura.  If Davis wants to pursue this, he should.  Perhaps someone will come forward with new evidence against Ventura and the case can be reopened.  I, however, have no such evidence and it would serve no purpose for me to try to reach a conclusion other than to say that I do not know anything about this case other than what has already been revealed.

I also want to comment on Ventura’s remark to U of M students, “win if you can, lose if you must, but ALWAYS CHEAT.”  What is the context of that statement?  I have to believe that Ventura said this in a humorous way.  Of course, most decent people believe that cheating is wrong.  Was Ventura giving serious, fatherly advice to young people that they should deceive their fellow citizens; or was something else involved here?

The most valid type of criticism against political figures is that they abused the power of their office, betrayed the public interests to help special interests or friends, were generally incompetent, or hurt their constituents.  You can find much evidence of this in policies of the Bush Administration, especially in regards the Iraq war.  I can find little evidence of it in what the Ventura administration did. The Ventura administration was competent; few dispute that.

Yes, Ventura gave money from a tax surplus back to the taxpayer and a budget crunch later occurred.  It might have been better, in hindsight, if a larger “rainy day fund” had been kept.  But that’s hindsight.  I have no reason to believe, as Davis does, that “the economic downturn was apparent before 9/11.”  It was apparent to few, if anyone, at the time.

With respect to Davis’ charge that “the State Investment Board suffered while he was on the Board”, the Governor is one of several state officials on that board.  Is there any evidence that Ventura made recommendations resulting in bad investments?

With respect to the allegation that Ventura “drove out of office, Dept. of Employee Relations Commissioner Karen Carpenter and Ethics Office Sandra Hyllengren for pointing out that he was a state "employee" and certain outside activities would be illegal.”  Don’t most governors or presidents fire people in their administrations who make public statements undercutting the boss? I wish Ventura had been more big-hearted in this case but many people in state government basically serve at the pleasure of the governor.

In regard to the allegation that Ventura’s chief of staff, Steven Bosacker, was a “sexual predator”, I do recall that Bosacker was arrested for lewd conduct in a bathhouse.  I assume that he might have been trying to pick up other gay men for sex.  But the term, “sexual predator”?  Isn’t that term usually reserved for rapists and those who seek sex with underage boys or girls?  To the best of my understanding, Bosacker was, at most, making overtures to consenting adults.

With respect to the allegation that “potheads” - people who use marijuana - put Ventura in office, so what?  That’s their decision, not Ventura’s.

Let me bring up another point which Davis did not make but which is often used to criticize the former Governor.  Jesse Ventura has a keen interest in what is contemptuously known as “conspiracy theories” regarding the Kennedy assassination and events on 9/11.  This type of interest always gets a person in trouble with the media and other respectable types.  But Ventura is willing to stick his neck out in this matter; and I applaud him for that.  

There’s enough evidence gathered from a variety of sources over the years to suggest that the Warren Commission Report was a white wash, and Oswald did not kill Kennedy alone.  If that’s the case, then a ring of highly dangerous individuals operates within a circle of protection from the nation’s intelligence agencies.  That is a throughly frightening situation, especially if it continues to exist today.  And why the media refuses to get into this subject is another frightening matter.

In his latest book, Ventura reveals that a CIA agent, known only to the Governor and the Governor’s chief of staff, is planted in Minnesota state government.  The CIA is not authorized to do domestic spying.  Only Ventura would have the guts to tell the public about this.  It’s another reason why I admire Jesse Ventura.

The U.S. Senate would be a good place for Ventura at this time.  He would offer a fresh perspective.  He would shake things up; and the federal government needs to be shaken up.  We do not know at this point whether Ventura will run.  There’s maybe a 50-50 chance of it. We’ll know in three weeks. 

If Ventura does become a candidate and especially if he wins the election, then Davis’ criticisms of him will again become relevant to the political discussion.  But I think we need discussion on both sides."

William McGaughey  June 26, 2008  11:42 a.m.

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"Just one quick comment. 

Anyone who watched Ventura when he was on TV as a wrestling personality knows that "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat." was a catch-phrase of his. Kind of like "I ain't got no time to bleed." was one of his lines from his role in the movie Predator that became a popular catch-phrase.

I'm willing to bet that when Ventura used that phrase, most of the University students who watched wrestling as kids either recognized it or at least saw it for what it was. Trying to use something like this as a way to smear him says a lot more about Leslie Davis than it does about Jesse Ventura."

Mark Snyder   June 26, 2008  1:42 p.m.

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