Category Archives: Oberstar

The Congressman for Malaysia

I first heard Congressman Oberstar’s latest cheapo TV ad a couple of days ago. It featured a tiny video of his oponant Chip Cravaack saying something about how Maylasia was a model of entrepreneural spirit. Then a snippet of a Cravaack saying, “like Malaysia” was played back three times in response to questions asked by the narrator but, of course, never heard by Craavack. I was in another room when I heard the voice over guy say “Chip Cravaack would be a good Congressman……….for Maylasia.” I laughed strenuously. It ranked right up there with Science Mystery Theater for a good laugh.

It was Jimmy’s first attack ad and its hard to say whether its cheesiness or its ineffectuality was more glaring. After a second viewing tonight I’m pretty sure it will drive a lot of undecideds to the Cravaack camp.

I felt) as far back as 1992 when I first ran against Oberstar that no one much loved him. The same was true when I ran against him in 2006. Its just as true today and Chip Cravaack has been a model candidate. Cravaack has done nothing sleazy in fact, his ads are a model of restraint. And tonight the Congressional GOP put on a blistering television ad scorching Oberstar. It was effective.

Up until a few days ago I was telling folks that while Oberstar won’t get his usual minimum 59% of the vote but that he should still pull through. Had he gotten the national Democrats to help him early he could have saved himself. Instead he had someone produce a rinky dink ad that does him no credit. I think its too late for Oberstar. I’m not eager for the GOP to take over Congress but it will be nice to demonstrate that I was correct all along about Oberstar being a paper tiger. This Congressional District will never be the same again…….if it even manages to survive reapportionment.

Paying attention to the new Chairman

Right after his reelection I got far more google alerts about breaking news on Jim Oberstar than before. That’s because he was likely to become and is now the new Chairman of the House transoportation committee.

There is also little doubt that he will excercise his clout and do it far differently than Dan Young the Republican who previously chaired this committee. Oberstar is definitely one of the most knowledgable Congressmen on all the transportation issues and that’s what the jump in news stories about him demonstrated.

I’ve been so busy researching the 1974 campaign that got Jim elected that I haven’t taken time to keep this blog up-to-date. But the story in today’s Minneapolis paper couldn’t have happened if the story I’m working on hadn’t happened first.

Fun with paranoia

Last night I was up till midnight again reading Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate. What a great book! Oh, I’m sorry. I think I’ve said that before.

Before going to bed I googled Billie Sol Estes and came up with a JFK assassination website which had lots of interesting information in it. I sent the site’s author an email inquiring about a mysterious news story I’d read in the late 1980’s about a man who had just claimed on his death bed that Lyndon Johnson had ordered another man’s murder. (Not JFK but someone else who was in a position to blackmail the President about his personal corruption)

Having just read Caro’s book the story seemed considerably more credible but my newspaper never followed the accusation up. This was in the days before the Internet or Google so the story just receded from view. Then last night after finding the site (one of many such JFK sites) I sent an inquiry about that mysterious old news story (along with a link to my web page about the Boyd Scandal) to the website’s author.

He wrote back this morning and said he would post my question on his site. He also invited me to send him a biography which he also offered to post for people who might have information about my research.

Here’s the email I just sent him.

Thank you John, After I sent you the email I realized that I probably saw the news story shortly after reading Robert Caro’s first book in 1984 or 85. The news story must have come out between 1985 and 1990. Caro’s book so impressed me with LBJ’s mania to be President and his ties to Brown and Root that it enhanced the credibility of the death bed confession I’m trying to locate. It was such a potent accusation – US Senator/President orders the murder of a political threat – that I could never understand why it was never followed up by our newspaper. I am a JFK conspiracy skeptic but I am open to serious research about the interesting little dust bunnies that history tried to sweep under the rug after JFK was murdered. Coincidentally, conspiracy enthusiast, Jim Fetzer, is a neighbor of mine but I’m non-plussed by his theory that Paul Wellstone’s charter plane was brought down by an electromagnetic pulse. In my opinion Fetzer’s work mostly serves to discredit other assassination researchers. I’m a local eccentric in Duluth, Minnesota. I’m an ex-liberal Republican (I’m still a liberal) who has failed to establish much of a political presence in our very Democratic oriented part of Blue State, Minnesota. I’m best known in town for my winter snow sculptures. I was a history teacher and served on the Duluth school board for eight years. I run for office promiscuously. I just ran a Quixotic race for Congress. It was my 12th campaign but my 5,508 votes were about 150,000 votes short of a victory. I was a columnist for our local tabloid the Reader Weekly and my columns and other miscellaneous stuff can be found with a little poking around on my Internet closet: I also blog every so often at Six months ago an interesting lead from another JFK website wetted my appetite to dig deeper into the 1973 Boyd Scandal which is closely tied to HHH. The new lead involved yet another long-forgotten Minnesota scandal from a decade earlier, 1963-64, that threatened my Father’s pension. My father was particularly chagrined about this at the time because he had been a fraud investigator for the Kansas State Insurance Commission prior to moving us to Minnesota. This time period coincided with LBJ protégé HHH’s, move from the Senate to the Vice Presidency when money would have been at a premium for the 64 presidential campaign. This earlier scandal involved a failed Minnesota insurance company (like the kind my Dad used to investigate) which managed Minnesota‘s state pensions. One of the company’s leaders threatened to expose the state’s Democratic party to charges of corruption (he never did) while another executive who was sent to prison later claimed to have information about the Kennedy Assassination. I don’t know where my research is headed but it is an interesting little cul de sac. Feel free to use this email as my biography. Harry Welty

Millionaires Club

Jim Oberstar is just behind Mark Dayton in personal wealth among Minnesota’s delegation to Congress. So says the Star Tribunes Dispatches.

“Among Minnesotans, Dayton led the pack, with a minimum net worth of $4.4 million, ranking No. 22 among senators. Oberstar had a minimum net worth of $3.5 million, ranking 43rd among House members. And Ramstad reported a minimum net worth of $2.47 million, ranking 66th among House members.”

Millionaire candidates

Here’s an interesting MSNBC News story on the limp record of millionaire candidates.

“the record of candidates who have poured $5 million or more of their own money into a race might be seen as “pathetic,” argues Jennifer Steen, an expert on self-funding candidates at Boston College.

Their election rate is only 37.5%, compared with 63.9% for candidates who raised at least $5 million for their campaigns, according to Steen’s analysis of elections from 1984 to 2004.”

Minnesota’s retiring millionaire Senator, Mark Dayton, succeeded in defeating Rod Grams six years ago. Doesn’t say much for Grams.

Grams campaign bankrupt in more ways than one

If the Democrats are right Rod Grams is out of money and out of steam. They report that he only has about $15,000 on hand which I must admit is $5,000 more than I’ll have spent in total.

I haven’t seen the flyer the Democrats are disparaging but it was obviously Rod’s last gasp. A letter to the Duluth News Tribune from my chimney Sweep, Jim Suttie, sums up its vote-getting potential for the Grams campaign.

“We recently received in the mail a political advertisement for the Rod Grams for Congress campaign. Up until that point, I had considered voting for Grams. Now, there is no way I would do so.

The flyer is composed to appear as a wanted poster. The heading states “Serial Job Killer Stalks Northern Minnesota.” Inside there is a mug shot of Jim Oberstar, as if taken in a police line-up. Beneath that there is an alias, “Big Shooter.” Oberstar is depicted as a common criminal.

If Grams authorized this, I think it’s way over the top and it’s despicable. Even if the charges leveled in this ad were true, and even if Grams doesn’t agree with the policies and actions taken by Oberstar over the years, he deserves more respect than what is shown him in this ad.

I hope that the voters of northern Minnesota show their displeasure at receiving such garbage by ultimately not voting for Grams for Congress or to hold any position of power. It’s this type of campaigning that gives such a negative impression of politicians to potential voters and that may contribute to low voter turnout.

If Grams hoped to get my attention, he did that. If he hoped to capture my vote, he failed miserably.”


I’m as bad as John Kerry

Vic is on my case. He made me reread the story I poked fun at a couple posts ago.

I was railing at Oberstar for promising to spend 3.5 billion on bicycle storage for airports. Well, I’m clearly wrong. Jim is only planning on allowing airports to use some of the 3.5 billion available to them for bicycle storage not the whole enchillada.

I should clearly be out on the hustings putting my foot in my mouth in front of television cameras rather than doing it on my blog.

2 percent

I’ve been corresponding with Russ Young. He recently demanded that I correct a ten-month-old entry in my website. That entry was a reply I’d sent to a local newspaper regarding a column that Russ had written condemning pro-choice people like me.

I was about to correct my website when I began pondering his warning to me that I was sitting under the “wrath of God.” So I asked him what he meant.

He was not optimistic for my future unless I adopted his or, I should say, God’s ways. When I fix my website I will post all of our correspondence.

Until then here’s my reply:

Rev Young,
We began our email exchange with questions regarding life, babies and abortion. I will return to these subjects in a few days but only after commenting on the biblical foundation which supports your arguments.
According to your interpretation of the Bible and the verses you have chosen I face a grim afterlife. Not everyone has the courage to tell others that they are doomed so I thank you for your warning and your forthrightness. Christ told his disciples to spread “the word” throughout the world and you are following his example. I will try to be just as candid.

Assuming for the sake of argument that your interpretation of the Bible is correct I find little to love in the God you worship. I will not worship a God who torments kind and generous people through eternity. If it is true that I am complicit in the murder of innocents my fate may be deserved but according to your faith God will also mete out eternal suffering to pro-lifers who have chosen not to worship him.
In addition to Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, pro-life or otherwise, Hell must be full of other luminaries of indeterminate religiosity like Gandhi, Einstein, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. The later, who seems to have outgrown his youthful atheism often talked about God while he confronted the Civil War but he still skipped church services.

It doesn’t seem right that people such as these would have to share the same fate as Stalin, Hitler and Mao. It is particularly irksome that this fate has been dealt us by a creator who gave us intellects (in his own image I presume) powerful enough to second guess his Bible. Worse yet, God has sown the universe with so much evidence that undermines the stories in Genesis that it positively invites the curious to fill in the blanks. I suppose Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin are also writhing in Hell for challenging the Bible’s literal truths. It’s too bad God didn’t personally intervene with them as he did with the Patriarchs. God wrestled with Jacob and he spoke to Moses as a burning bush but for me God only sent Russ Young who merely burns with conviction.

Had I been a disciple of Christ I would have been Thomas for I too would have required proof of his resurrection. And yet, even though I have never touched Christ’s wounds, I am sufficiently impressed with his teachings that I have tried to make them mine. When Jesus tells us to ”be wise as serpents and innocent as dove” Mat 10:16, RSV; I rejoice in his wisdom.

Russ Young’s God will almost certainly sentence my sister the Buddhist, my Mother the doubter, and my son the religiously indifferent, to eternal agony. This cruelty seems at odds with Jesus’s instruction to love one’s neighbor. And yet Russ, if I am to believe you, it will be Jesus himself sitting on the right hand of God who casts down this judgment as though he were no better than a guard at Auschwitz directing Jews to the crematoria.
It is possible that I am missing some exculpatory information which might put your wrathful God in a better light. Until I can learn what this evidence might be I will resign myself to spending a hellish eternity with the people I love and respect. While I am there I’m sure to bump into Pastor Bond. My heretical old minister once told me that his God was so merciful that if he saw people suffering in Hell he would go there to rescue them. I could worship his God.

Harry Welty
An agnostic in the Church Choir

Tantamount to a different voice

My braying about being ignored by the Tribune at the the televised debate they sponsored has borne some modest fruit.

First they gave me space to explain why I would be the best candidate. I’ve had a number of folks say my comments were the most sensible.

Then the editorial board gave me an interview, and today they assessed all the candidates in their endorsement of Jim Oberstar. They had only nice things to say about me as a “different voice.”

I can’t complain.

Harry Welty

Harry Welty had run for office numerous times before finally winning a seat on the Duluth School Board. During his service there from 1995 to 2003, he received praise as a moderate who could get things done.

A writer and former teacher, Welty describes himself as a 35-year moderate Republican who would caucus with the Democratic Party if elected to Congress. He offers realistic and sobering ideas on the war in Iraq and the economy, harkening back to the Republicanism of years past for whom fiscal conservatism was tantamount while allowing for social caring.

Welty’s quest is hampered, however, by his peculiar route to the ballot, in which he sought but could not obtain an Independence Party endorsement and discovered instead the Unity Party, a more-or-less online creation based in California. His motivations, nonetheless, appear sincere and he brings a different voice to the race.”

And Big Business is plying Oberstar with money

According to the Hill Jim Oberstar has been raking in contributions from big business. I had read in other news reports that he had stayed around in Washington DC near the adjournment of Congress busily attending fund raisers. Bad news for Republicans have made business interests very generous to prospective Democratic committee chairman.

“Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has raised $225,000 for his campaign account from PACs between July 1 and Oct. 18, drawing donations from PACs belonging to business giants such as CSX Corporation and 3M. That amount is nearly $70,000 more than he raised from such sources during a similar stretch in 2004. But during the recent three-and-a-half month period, a $1,000 contribution to Mike Erlandson was the only money he gave to a Democratic House candidate, fundraising records show.”

Grams should quit, say the unions

Tonight there was a silly bit of news about area labor unions which are calling on Rod Grams to quit the race for Congress.

Sure, Rod’s campaign has been drivel – complaints about trips to Paris and Jim’s home in Maryland. Rod’s recent story in the Trib about the poor farmers who were jailed for draining their swamp was patently absurd and slanted, but should he quit the race?

The unions are upset that Rod is trying to make the claim that Jim Oberstar has been a job killer. So what? Its just over the top campaign rhetoric. The public won’t be impressed.

I tried explaining while on Duluth Solutions today that economic development was more of a state matter than a fedral matter but my friend Mel has a much better take on a congressman’s limitations than I managed. Neither Oberstar, Grams or Welty can be expected to bring jobs, jobs, jobs to the Eighth District’s economy.l

First Ad gets an OK

Claudia hadn’t seen my TV ad until this afternoon. We were fixing dinner in the Kitchen when she said “Harry Look!” My TV ad had just popped up on the ABC Sunday night news with its picture of Oberstar’s “working” lawnsign. The ad continued on with the Republican rogue’s gallery that Jim pandered to and finished up with the head shot of me promising to work hard. My wife said it was good which for her was high praise.

My ad was immediately followed by a brand new Oberstar ad touting how hard Jim works in the Congress. We both enjoyed the juxtoposition of my ad lambasting Jim’s work companions and his ad exulting in his hard work. It sure would be nice to buy a couple thousand dollars more ad time.

Miner Praise

I picked up the latest Reader Weekly today after swimming 2000 meters to check on my latest ad. The lastest ad directs people to my TV ad which shines a spotlight on Congressman Oberstar’s collusion with Tom Delay. To my absolute delight (since I haven’t bothered organizing a pro-Welty letter-writing campaign) there was one unsolicited endorsement letter from a Paul Miner. Mr. Miner shared his reasons for losing faith in Jim Oberstar

1. Oberstar’s opposition to the changes in the Medicare Part D program and

2. Jim’s pandering to Tom Delay Republicans over Terri’s Law. Then concluded his tome with the line:

“If you are a cynic who says your vote won’t count, remember that if you don’t vote, it certainly won’t be counted. Go Harry Welty!”

Music to my ears.