Jesse Ventura: Telling it like it is

Jesse Ventura discusses the tragedy unfolding in Libya, corporate influence over our political system, and more in Part 1 of our interview. Photo: Jesse Ventura

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2012 ― Jesse Ventura - navy underwater demolition expert, pro wrestler, actor, author, former Governor of Minnesota, and visiting fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government - is a well-known political iconoclast. He ran for governor as a member of the Reform Party. A fiscal conservative, he supported gay rights, famously called Dick Cheney a “coward” and a “chickenhawk,” and sued the TSA for what he considers illegal patdowns. His take on politics is never predictable or bland.

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Kevin Kelly: Before we delve into your latest book, the upcoming election, and politics, I wanted to get your take on the tragedy that we see unfolding in Libya.

Jesse Ventura: I think we should shut down our embassies, stop all foreign aid, and get the hell out of there. Let me go back to the 1980’s when Ronald Reagan was President, and of course he’s the icon of the Republican Party. If you recall our marine barracks in Lebanon was attacked and over 200 marines were killed. Did Ronald Reagan go to war? No, he got the hell out of there. I mean if these people don’t want us there, why are we there? Again I stand with Ron Paul. I think all foreign aid should be eliminated. I mean, how can we give up foreign aid to any other country when we’re broke, and so far in debt?

Kelly: Do you agree with Ron Paul that we should not only withdraw from Libya, but we should withdraw this empire that we have overseas? We have over 900 military bases and we’re currently stationed in over 150 countries.

Ventura: Absolutely. Actually, if we back up a little, you know why we are there don’t you?

Kelly: Why is that, Governor?

Ventura: We’re not there to protect the United States people’s interests; we’re there to protect multi-international corporations.

Kelly: Really? Would you mind expounding upon that Governor?

Ventura: Have you ever read the works of Major General Smedley Butler?

Kelly: Absolutely.

Ventura: He wrote a book called “War is a Racket.” General Butler talked about at the turn of the last century; we’re talking one hundred years ago roughly. He said I didn’t fight for the American people I fought for the United Fruit Corporation. Whenever they would go into Central or South America, if they didn’t get cooperation they would send in the marines to get it. It’s been going on for a century or more. Our military doesn’t defend our American people. Our military is the strong-arm muscle of corporations. That’s the only reason we have any involvement at all in the Middle East is because they want to get the oil, they want in Afghanistan the mineral wealth, the lithium, and all of that stuff.

Kelly: Another point you made in an interview on the Fox Business channel a while ago, Governor, involved you eloquently explaining that our corporations love China, but ironically we still won’t trade with Cuba.

Ventura: Exactly. The reason being that China welcomes the corporations and Cuba threw them out.

Kelly: You dedicate your latest book “DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans” to Hunter S. Thompson. Why did you decide to do that? What exactly did he try to warn us about?

Ventura: Well, first of all to me Hunter is the last of what they call “Gonzo journalists.” I dedicated it to Hunter naturally because he’s gone, and I dedicated it to Hunter because to me Hunter told the truth in what he wrote. He had great truth in his writing. Also, the fact that when Hunter covered the elections for “Rolling Stone,” way back in the 60’s and 70’s, he showed us back then how fraudulent politics was and what a farce it all was turning into so that’s why I wrote: “the man who warned us.” If you read Hunter’s writings for “Rolling Stone” and all of that in the 60’s and 70’s, in his own way he was warning the people of America where the politics were turning and the whole situation of it.

Kelly: Getting into the book, you mention the damage the two parties have wrought on our country, and the fact that there is no major difference between them. In your opinion, is there anything that the two parties differ on?

Ventura: Well, certainly. They’ll differ on things like gay marriage and red herrings that they shouldn’t even be involved in, in the first place. Ultimately why I say that is because they’ve both sold out. Political corporations now control our government. Mussolini would be proud because that’s the loose definition of fascism. In light of the Supreme Court’s ridiculous decision where they stated that corporations have the same rights as you as an individual, and that money is free speech, we’re now getting inundated with all of these millions of dollars into our elections, and I’m not so much opposed to that as much but the fact is there is no open disclosure. They don’t even have to say who is giving the money.

Look at this hypothetical, China could buy our election. All they’d have to do is form a corporation, they could pump as much money to the candidate of their choice in our country, and most corporations today are multi-national anyway. They can pump all of this money into our elected system, which used to be against the law; corporations weren’t even allowed to contribute money. Now they can give it uninhibited and there is no full disclosure or anything.

Clearly both of these parties are going to be obligated, they’re money people, and let me tie that in with why they’re gangs. In a gang, your first loyalty is always to the gang. Well, that’s the way the political system is. Your first loyalty with these parties is not to the country. It’s to your gang or your party. Your second loyalty is to whom? The money, and the money makers and who deliver the money to your gang, how your gang makes money. That’s number two. We the people might be third, fourth, fifth but who knows? That’s the pecking order right there. Loyalty to the gang first, loyalty to the money and who provides the money to the gang second.

Kelly: You frequently mention the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United in your book. Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist Chris Hedges has said that that Supreme Court decision could be the final nail in the coffin for America. Do you agree with this characterization?

Ventura: Absolutely. I’ve been saying it too and I don’t even know who he is and I haven’t heard him say it until you told me right now. I’ve been saying that, too. This decision could be the destruction of the United States of America as we know it.

Kelly: Do you believe that figures from Goldman Sachs and Wall Street should be prosecuted?

Ventura: Absolutely. Get this; what we point out in our book is that these big corporations pay more money to lobbyists than what they pay in taxes. What does that tell you? When they pay more money in lobbyists, more dollars actually go to pay off lobbyists to work on their behalf to get what they want from political parties and the government then what they pay in taxes.

Kelly: In one chapter you detail how members of Congress are above the law. One example you gave involved the ability of our politicians to engage in insider trading. After a “60 minutes” story extensively covered this issue, do you think we will see more action from the public to try to reverse this practice?

Ventura: Well, they already passed a law that is supposedly going to stop it. Wink. Wink. Do you really think it will? It’s theater. They do it to make us think they’re locking them down and not allowing them to do it. Rest assured it will continue. Has anyone been prosecuted under this law? Absolutely not. Let’s wait to see if anyone ever gets charged with a crime or prosecuted. Or is it simply lip service?


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Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is currently a college student majoring in History and Political Science. His writings have appeared in The Daily Local, Lew Rockwell.com’s blog, The Washington Times, Antiwar.com, and Freedom’s Phoenix Online Digital Magazine. He has been a popular guest political contributor to numerous national radio shows across the country, offering his perspective on a wide array of issues. 

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