Jesse Gets Lucky, Again

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterJesse Ventura is one lucky bastard. He got elected Governor in 1998, at the peak of the ‘90s boom economy, when thirty-some percent of voters decided, kind of like electing Floyd the Pig Homecoming King, they could afford a laugh. (The competition from two stiffs like Skip Humphrey and Norm Coleman didn’t hurt.)

Now a jury … of his peers … has decided, in a split but conclusive vote, that he was in fact “defamed”, or as I like to think of it “de-famed”, since Jesse believes the dead sniper’s memoir yanked the rudder of his good ship celebrity and crashed it on the hard rocks of horrible, desolate semi-anonymity. Frankly, I’m as shocked by the decision as the legal experts, scholars and pundits. In today’s free-fire publishing world no one is supposed to mount much less win a defamation case against anyone who has previously appeared on TV.

In a previous post I both said I doubted Jesse could prevail, but that I sincerely hoped he would, if only to throw a momentary chill into the fetid sub-culture of charlatans, hustlers and publicists pumping this — recklessly indifferent — memoir/tell-all offal with wearying monotony. That chill, if it is experienced at all, probably won’t last as long as their next tax deductible business lunch. But at least it’s out there.

Not being a licensed legal expert — although I am three for four in conciliation court (don’t bleep with me) — I am most confused over whether or how the issue of “harm” was considered. The “American Sniper” book, as we learned from depositions of the dead sniper, essentially took a “close enough” approach to the veracity of its claims about the Ventura incident. But as to the book being what cratered Jesse’s big money days? Mmmmmm … I’m not so convinced. And I fail to see how anyone could.

Immediate speculation is that the eight jurors voting for Ventura decided they were cool with their decision on the grounds that, yes he was defamed — the sniper’s tale, as written by a ghost writer, had a lot of funky holes that no one cared enough to correct and they all went ahead and publicized the victim of the incident as our guy The Body. All that equals defamation. But, the guessing is … the fact that damages will be paid by the giant publisher’s giant insurance company nailed the choice shut. (In modern America few entities are fairer game for a punitive scalding than insurance companies.)

The second, larger tier of damages, the $1.3 million and change part, may or may not also be covered by insurance. There seems to be some debate on that matter. But were I a juror in doubt about who was going to pay … not the poor, suffering widow! … I would still go ahead with a fat reward for Jesse’s loss of income, fully expecting that the judge and appeals will shave that number down … a lot.

That way the reckless publisher (and their ilk) would get a loud message, but the inncocent family of a “bonafide American hero” will never miss a meal. (Hell, Clint Eastwood, who’s directing a move of “American Sniper”, could write a personal check for the widow’s losses.)

Until a juror speaks up, we won’t know their thinking for certain. But I want to believe that Team Ventura struck a righteous, populist nerve. A nerve that says writers and publishers, especially big corporate publishing houses have to make at least a good faith attempt at accuracy, and … if you’re big enough to have insurance to cover screw ups, the bastards at Pan Global Monolith Insurance, Inc. can afford to cover the tab.

Why Doesn’t Chris Kluwe Just Shut Up?

Kluwe allegations?  Meh.  Why doesn’t former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe just quit all of his blathering about Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer and the gays? Kluwe had his time in the limielight, and it’s time for him to let it go already.  With training camp just around the corner, it’s time to let the home team have a fresh start. The last thing the world needs is another lawsuit.

If you listen to sports talk radio, that’s the dominant vibe from  diehard Vikings fans. Kluwe’s allegations are just a tiresome buzz-kill for them. They’re indifferent about the issue.  For them, it’s all about “let’s play!”

If Kluwe is lying about Priefer, then the fans are right. Kluwe not only should shut up, he probably should get the Jesse Ventura treatment from Priefer.

Truth_to_PowerBut if Kluwe’s boss did ridicule and threaten Kluwe for championing civil rights, and wish genocide on a whole category of human beings, then Kluwe has a moral obligation to sue the Vikings to get the truth out.

At first blush, a Kluwe lawsuit may seem like a money grab.  But Kluwe has said he will donate any lawsuit proceeds to LGBT rights groups.

At second blush, a lawsuit may seem punitive and petulant. But at this point, a lawsuit is really the only way the truth can be revealed. A lawsuit is the only way Kluwe can put former teammates under oath.  It’s the only way he can compel them to tell “nothing but the truth” about what they heard Priefer say. That looks to be necessary, because these are people who would surely be scared to speak out about their current boss.  After all, Priefer could release those players Kluwe-style, costing them millions of dollars. Talk about your inconvenient truths.

What’s the Big Deal?

So before an indifferent Vikings Nation rushes to cry “shut up and let’s play,” let’s step back and reflect for a moment. Here is what Kluwe alleges Priefer said:

Coach Frazier immediately told me that I “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff” (referring to my support for same-sex marriage rights). I told Coach Frazier that I felt it was the right thing to do (what with supporting equality and all), and I also told him that one of his main coaching points to us was to be “good men” and to “do the right thing.” He reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that “a wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.” I repeated my stance that this was the right thing to do, that equality is not something to be denied anyone, and that I would not promise to cease speaking out. At that point, Coach Frazier told me in a flat voice, “If that’s what you feel you have to do,” and the meeting ended. The atmosphere was tense as I left the room.

Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance.

Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.

Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was “messed up.”

After this point, Mike Priefer began saying less and less to me, and our interactions were stilted. I grew increasingly concerned that my job would be in jeopardy.

If that’s true, that’s not just rude or insensitive. It’s dehumanizing, abusive and bigoted.  It’s unbecoming of a team representing Minnesota. More importantly, it’s the kind of verbal violence that, intended or not, feeds and rationalizes actual violence against gays and lesbians.

Double Standard

What if Priefer had ridiculed and threatened an employee who marched to champion equal rights for African Americans, women or Jews?  Society wouldn’t tolerate that.

Imagine Priefer had said we should round up all the African Americans, women or Jews to be nuked.  Again, that would not be met by shrugs from an indifferent news media, NFL and  Vikings organization.

So why are so many seemingly indifferent about these allegations?  We should be standing up against this bigotry, just as most of us would if African Americans, women or Jews were the target.  As Hitler death camp survivor Elie Wiesel observed: “The opposite of hate is not love.  It’s indifference.”

I’m not blind to the possibility that Kluwe could be lying. But if he is lying, I can’t believe he would sue, as he has promised he will do if the Vikings don’t release their internal investigation report.   If Kluwe is lying, I would think he would quietly slink away.   If Kluwe moves forward with a lawsuit, I’m much more inclined to believe he is probably telling the truth about Priefer’s outrageous behavior.  After all, why would he put his former teammates on the stand if he knew the truth they would be compelled to tell — under threat of perjury charges — would show Kluwe to be a liar?

Viking Nation, I want to move on to football too.  I want to see if Teddy can throw, Captain can cover the slot and Mike and Norv can coach.  But as difficult as it may be for the face-painting crowd to grasp, some things are bigger than the game. Getting closure on these extremely ugly allegations is bigger than the game.

– Loveland

Here’s Hoping Jesse Wins

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterIt hard to take Jesse Ventura’s defamation suit seriously. Too much irony keeps getting in the way. I mean Jesse Ventura outraged that someone put too much show biz in their shtick? Gotta love it.

But whether he wins — which is doubtful, despite, I believe being warranted — I’d like to think his willingness to mount an attack will have, if only a momentary, impact on our vast, fetid “non-fiction” industry.

Our guy Jesse is many things. Among them: A grasping, self-serving, self-aggrandizing, thin-skinned galoot. But he is also positively reverential about the Navy SEALs and the bond of macho brotherhood with those who have served. Similarly, he has been unabashedly vocal about the War in Iraq since it was launched, saying rational, reality-based things about that misbegotten adventure I’ve still never heard from the likes of John McCain or Lindsey Graham.

For those reasons alone it is nearly impossible for me to believe that he ever said the SEALs “deserve to lose a few” to anyone, much less a group of actual (half drunk) SEALs practically in their own backyard. Even if he too was drunk or hell, on mescaline, like some sage native mystic, asking me to believe Jesse Ventura urged death on any of his brothers-in-shark-infested-waters is a bridge … way too far.

And based on the deposition of Chris Kyle, the now-deceased “American Sniper” himself, the whole incident at the bar in San Diego, with all the chest bumping, swaggering, taunting and brawling sounds deeply flaky, as in it made for a much better story when you’re trying to sell a tough guy/uber-patriot memoir. Certainly a lot better than letting Ventura get away with an anti-war crack. When your target audience is gun-worshipping, flag-waving, hoo rah wannabes, you slap that shit down … even if you actually didn’t.

Jesse’s fight coincides with right-wing fantasist Edward Klein’s latest best-seller, “Blood Feud”, in which we’re too believe the Obamas and the Clintons are, behind the scenes, in private, barely different in their connivery and blood lust than the Lannisters and the Starks on “Game of Thrones”. If Jesse thinks he got unfair treatment in Kyle’s book (ghost-written, of course) imagine how Hillary feels with Michele Obama calling her the “Hilldebeest”, and how about Barack pounding down the vino and bad-mouthing Bubba to his face? I always knew that guy a drunk and a boor. I mean, hell, did you see him boozing it up in Texas? W* never behaved like that.

Point being of course we rarely have any good reason to believe anything in a memoir — really, any memoir, including Hillary Clinton, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman, every tired old statesman, jock, pop star, etc. — although, personally I’d actually read Vladimir Nabokov or William Styron in their own words than the ghost-written, demo-targeted tale of an expert rifleman, who despite the hagiographic lurches would never have been mistaken for Vasily Zaytsev defending Stalingrad from the Nazis.

And why stop with memoirs? The publishing industry has only the most loosely defined and even more loosely policed definition of “non-fiction”. It hardly matters to the average publisher, and not at all to the partisan houses pushing precisely what their demographic wants to hear, if no one can corroborate the author’s astonishing verbatim dialogue from private episodes between characters who’d rather flatten him under their limo wheels than grant him an interview.

House attorneys may scour books for the most egregious slander, to avoid time-sucking litigation. But once into the realm of “celebrity” or “public person”, why waste time checking and deleting the juicy stuff that might accelerate on the Interwebs and move product? If the aggrieved celebrity yob wants to declare the whole thing an insult to nature and a hideous, despicable lie, well hell, thank them for being stupid and vain enough to goose the publicity effort.

According to reports from the Ventura trial, Jesse’s original complaints about the Kyle book spiked sales and delighted the publisher, proving again that the best offense in the face of obscene offense is … nothing. Ignore it. The shelf life of the average, under-publicized unlitigated memoir is about as short as a mayfly, or a jihadi in a sniper’s crosshairs.

Mullet Brotherhood Starts Draft Shelby Drive

Bloomington, Minn., July 31, 2013 — A national hair style advocacy group called the Mullet Brotherhood announced today that it was organizing a drive to draft legendary WCCO-TV anchorman Don Shelby to run for Congress against Minnesota 3rd Congressional District Representative Erik Paulsen.

After retiring from the anchor desk, Shelby became a cause celebre in the mullet-American advocacy community when he let his hair down, the hind half of it.  News reports that Shelby may run for Congress have caused a buzz among mullet activists anxious to see one of their own representing them in Washington.

“Former Governor Pawlenty had a chance become the first mulleted President, but unfortunately he dumped us for a Super PAC-approved cut,” said Floyd “Flow Joe” Joyner, President of the Mullet Brotherhood.  “We’ve long admired Mr. Shelby’s silver cascade, and would dearly love to see that bad boy in the Capitol Building.”

Joyner admitted that the road will be long for Shelby.  Protesters outside the news conference mocked Shelby and the group with various forms of hate speech, such as hockey hair, ten ninety, helmet hair, coupe Longueuil, haircut o’ death, neckwarmer, shorty longback, the 10-90, the Kentucky waterfall, the bi-level, the faded glory, the Ben Franklin, the Missouri Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, the Camaro crash helmut, the business cut (business in front, party in the back), the LPGA, the soccer flip, the convertible, the Tennessee top hat, the Canadian passport, the New Jersey neckwarmer, the Chattanooga choo choo, and the neck blanket and the Wisconsin waterfall.

“If that ‘Wisconsin waterfall’ label sticks, that could be the end for Shelby,” said Dr. Harold Cloister, political science professor at St. Thomas University.  “I’d look for Shelby’s handlers to spin it as more of a Minnesota Mudflap.”

With the exception of a few short-lived fads, hind heavy hair has been slow to be accepted in contemporary mainstream society.  Though fossil records indicate that homo sapiens with primitive mullets have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years, it was 2001 before the word “mullet” even appeared in dictionaries.  Mullet activists see a Shelby candidacy as a historic opportunity to normalize the oppressed mulleted minority.

“We did have Governor Ventura in the State Capitol a few years back, but to be honest there is a rather ugly debate within our community about whether a skullet should be considered to be in the mullet family,” said Joyner.  “Naturally, we value all forms of unbridled neck hair, but many feel that crown-based flow is a necessary element of the art form.  But dandy Don’s ape drape, dude, we all get goose bumps about that mofo.”

Joyner announced the launch of a Draft Shelby website  Along with a draft petition, the site also is selling “Don’s Do 4U” trucker’s hats, with a faux silver mullet flowing from the back.

Mr. Shelby refused to comment for this story.  However, in previous news reports he has indicated that he has not yet ruled out becoming “a terrible congressman.”

Franken Opponent Wish List

Minnesota Senator Al Franken doesn’t have a high profile challenger yet in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.  People don’t seem to be flocking to run against Franken at a time when a January 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey is finding that Senator Franken is leading former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman by 6 points, Congressman John Kline by 8 points, Congressman Erik Paulsen by 11 points and Congresswoman Michele Bachman by 14 points.

Despite these findings, 45% of Minnesota Republicans want to nominate Bachmann to oppose Franken. I would be in Blogger Heaven if a Franken-Bachmann race came to be, but I find it difficult to imagine that I, or Franken, could possibly be so lucky.

Given that the conventional candidates like Coleman looks to be taking a pass at the Senate race, maybe it’s time for the Minnesota GOP brain trust to get unconventional.  These are some of the match-ups that I personally day dream about: Continue reading

Bills’ Minnesota Currency Proposal: Change We Can Believe In?

U.S. Senator Amy Kloubachar’s virtually invisible campaign opponent Kurt Bills borrows many of his policy ideas from his mentor, libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul.  One of the least discussed of Bills’ proposals is his call for Minnesota to consider issuing its own currency.

Like Congressman Paul, Mr. Bills backs a national return to the gold standard.  In addition, Bills has sponsored state legislation to study whether Minnesota should adopt an alternative currency.  Bills’ bill (H.F. 1664):

“A joint legislative committee is established to study the adoption of an alternative currency by and for the state of Minnesota and its citizens, in response to the abdication by the United States Congress of its constitutional duty to regulate the value of its money, which it has failed to do through the Federal Reserve System.”

Financial experts are not so sure about Mr. Bills’ state currency idea.  For instance David Parsley, a professor of economics and finance at Vanderbilt University was quoted by CNN saying:

“Having 50 Feds” could debase the U.S. dollar and even potentially lead the country into default.  The single currency in the United States is working just fine.  I have no idea why anyone would want to destroy something so successful — unless they actually wanted to destroy the country.”

Despite the naysayers, the prospect of having a cool new state currency raises many creative possibilities for Minnesotans.

Name.  For instance, what would we call the new Minnesota currency?

MinneDollar quickly comes to mind, but that seems much too obvious.  Plus, if the dollar collapses, as Mr. Bills foresees, “MinneDollar” wouldn’t inspire much confidence, now would it?

Alternatively, perhaps Minnesota’s dollar could be called “ “The Viking,” to symbolize our ability to dust ourselves off after humiliating defeats, and come back for more humiliating defeats, without ever seeing the epic futility of it all.  Very Minnesotan.

Or, the corporatist Republicans controlling the Legislature might prefer to sell off the naming rights of the new Minnesota currency for a price, to someone like Twin Cities Federal (TCF) Bank, which  already owns the naming rights to a largely taxpayer-funded stadium, and is run by a former GOP Party Chairman.  Yes, Minnesota’s equivalent to “the dollar” could be called “The TCF.”

Finally, there is always “The Gopher.” What better name to carry on Minnesota’s rich tradition of picking really humiliating names to represent our state?  Plus, “Golden Gopher?”  Gold standard?  Get it?

Faces.  After we name our new currency, we, of course, need to put a good face on it.

America’s first President, George Washington, preferred faceless money.  He was staunchly opposed to putting President’s images on U.S. currency.  Modest George thought doing so was too self-aggrandizing, elitist and monarchical.  In other words, George was a socialist.

However, something tells me that the likes of Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty wouldn’t let modesty get in the way of monetary immortality for themselves.  So we’ll let those former Governors fight it out to determine whose face is on our new Minnesota currency.

Why did I leave current Governor Mark Dayton off my list?  Ah shucks, Modest Mark doesn’t need that.  (Owning most of the new currency is good enough for him.)

Motto.  After our currency has a name and a face, it would need a motto, something akin to the saying on U.S. currency, “In God We Trust.”

If we go with selling off the naming rights, as contemplated above, I guess we’d need the new currency motto to be “Your convenience bank.”  Stop whining, it will grow on you.

“In Ron Paul We Trust” also could work, since Mr. Paul is the brainchild of all this, and because he is treated like a deity by his adoring followers.

But given the Minnesota Republicans’ obsession with proving they are tighter with the Almighty than everyone else, the GOP-controlled Legislature would probably make the motto something more like “In God We Trust, Unlike the Godless Liberals.” Bam.  On-message.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think my vote for the new Minnesota currency name goes to “The Loon.” I know it’s hackneyed.  But loons are graceful creatures with a gorgeous call that is closely associated with Minnesota’s iconic lakes.   Loons are our State Bird.  “Common Loons” are both beautiful and “common,” just like the great people of Minnesota.

Besides, “The Loon” perfectly captures the merits of the Mr. Bills’ idea.

– Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured in the Politics in Minnesota Morning Report “Best of the Blogs” feature, as well as a “best of the best” in Minnpost’s Blog Cabin feature.

Democrips, Rebloodlicans and the Venturattentionaddict

The scorpions in Jesse Ventura’s Baja backyard must not be giving him enough attention, so a predictably surly Jesse Ventura is back in the news this week.

What shocking news does Jesse’s new book bring to the world?  Jesse dislikes political parties.

This will come as an enormous surprise to Minnesotans, and readers of Ventura’s last four books.  After all, Jesse has never said THAT before.

So, it’s easy to see how that revelation landed him on the front page of the Pioneer Press.  Once again, Jesse has perfected the art of bashing the news media as a sure fire way of getting himself nearly unlimited news media coverage.

I haven’t read the book, Democrips and Rebloodlicans, but it sounds like a tour de force of false equivalency cop outs.  All politicians and all parties (i.e. all non-Jesses) are equally guilty of fighting too much, like the street gangs the Crips and the Bloods, get it?  This from a Governor who was so thin skinned that he was constantly at war with just about everyone in Minnesota, except for members of his Independence Party.

Until now.  Seemingly the only news made in this book is that former Governor Ventura now is denouncing the Independence Party as well.  Their unforgiveable sin?  They seek contributions.  In Jesse’s conspiracy-obsessed mind, this means that they are bought and paid for.  This makes perfect sense.  After all, Jesse has never sought to raise money for himself.

“We already have a two-headed monster. Why would we need a three-headed one?”

Jesse is also done with the Tea Party, because they are funded by corporations.  But so far, he is okay with Occupy Wall Street protesters.   After all, you have to save someone new to denounce…in the next book.

This is what the world looks like with Jesse Goggles on:  Everyone is a monster, gangster, or jackal out to get him.  That outlook of the world is many things — simplistic, delusional, and a cop out, among them.

But at this stage in Jesse’s career, there is one thing that such predictable ranting most assuredly is not.  News.

– Loveland

Note:  This post also was featured as a “best of the best” on Minnpost’s Blog Cabin feature.

Minnesota Now Has To Look To South Dakota For Interesting Political Ads

For a time, the nation looked to Minnesota for innovative political ads.  Working with local ad pros in 1990, an obscure college professor’s “Fast Paul” and “Looking for Rudy” TV ads were a national sensation.

Since then, Minnesota’s pols have gone conventional.  Most ads now follow The Recipe:

Ominously droning music.  Grainy photo of Evil Opponent caught in an unflattering facial expression. The Big Accusation(s).

Transition to heroic music!  Lovely images of Our Photoshopped Candidate helping school children read, seniors do paperwork, and veterans secure their lapel pins! Images of Our Photshopped Candidate working at his desk in the wee hours, and in front of a sea of flags inspiring the masses with a forceful finger jab in the air! Call-to-action!  Logo!  Disclaimer.

Sound familiar?  The ingredients to The Recipe never change appreciably.  Just add special interest money, and repeat ad nauseum.

The Recipe produces ads that are so similar in tone and feel that it is very easy for voters to tune them out.  Nothing about them sparks enough curiosity to prevent voters from closing their ears, changing the channel, or skipping the commercial via DVR.  For this reason, The Recipe remains more effective than most tactics, but much less effective than it once was.

Still, year after year, political consultants convince politicians and special interests to bake up enormous batches of The Recipe.  Consultants push it because it is relatively fast to produce, low-budget, and low-risk.  Just shoot stock video and drop it into the template.  Those are somewhat defensible reasons.  But consultants also push mass production of The Recipe because it earns them a high profit margin, in the same way that any assembly line has higher profit margins than customized craftsmanship.  The Recipe often serves the constulant’s needs more than the candidate’s needs.

In every election cycle, there are a few exceptions to the rule.  Wellstone in 1990 was one.  Jesse Ventura had a few.   A couple of years ago, Steve Novick in Oregon was another.  This month, there is a pretty decent non-conventional web video from South Dakota congressional candidate Jeff Barth:

Scoff at the production value if you like.  Look down your nose at the campy humor.  But this video, airing for free, has had over 150,000 YouTube viewings, due to peer-to-peer sharing, and referrals from free airings on news programs.  For a primary candidate in a state of 380,00 voters, that’s a big deal.  And unlike conventional ads, it is airing for free.

Why is something like this successful? After all, it’s not nearly as glossy, glib or compact as The Recipe.  Barth’s video is successful because it is many things that the 30-second cookie cutter ads are not.  It’s unique enough to draw you in.  It’s funny enough to cause you to want to share it.  It’s informative enough to make it worth your while.  It’s provocative enough to stick in your memory.

Even if you only watch this video once, you come away knowing something about the candidate’s background, personality and approach to life and politics.  This video leaves me thinking this guy Barth might not be another risk averse  congressional clone.  In a year when job approval ratings for Congress are at 10% that “not like the others” message is a strategically important leave behind.

Will anyone in Minnesota be imaginative and courageous enough to do anything unique with their political ads this election cycle, or can we look forward to heapin’ helpins of The Recipe?