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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Monty Jensen is a Liar; Crow Wing County Investigation Concludes NO Evidence of Wrong Doing, Part 1

The results were conclusive; there was no evidence which supported Montgomery 'Monty' Jensen's accusation of wrong doing. 

I will take apart Jensen's accusations, pointing out the drive-a-semi-through holes in separate posts.

What is perhaps the more interesting aspect of this story, that suggests this was intended to be an attack on disabled voters from the very beginning, possibly specifically against this group home for having DFL political signs on their premises (which they are entitled to do, it's private property). In the comments section outraged right wing nuts who don't need evidence to justify foaming at the mouth, are publishing the address and phone numbers of the Clark Lake Group Home, and their staff.  This is a frightening parallel to the publishing by right wing bloggers of the incorrect address and phone number of Virginia Representative Perriello, actually his brother's, which led to vandalism of a propane line, vandalism which could have resulted in a fatal fire had it not accidentally been discovered by the home owner coming home unexpectedly during the day, contrary to his usual routine.

I have suggested that the operator of the group home that is being targeted ask the paper to remove these phone numbers and addresses, and that he consider legal action against the parties involved with continuing smears, and against Jensen.  I've also offered to assist him in finding the best possible qualified legal representation to do so.
-DG

from the Brainerd Dispatch
Ryan: No evidence found to back voter fraud claim
By JODIE TWEED, Staff Writer

Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan said Friday afternoon that his office did not find evidence to substantiate a Crow Wing Township resident's claim of voter fraud that was said to have taken place on Oct. 29 at the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse.
Now one of the interesting features of the accusation by Monty Jensen is that he is quite specific about the timing of what he witnessed.  He is quite specific about arriving at the courthouse around 4:30 - 4:45 p.m., ostensibly he was only there to vote, which appears not to be the case.  Either he was there earlier than he admits, possibly to observe voters in search of voter fraud to gain the $500 reward offered; or he did not see the disabled voters who exercised their franchise that afternoon.  Certainly there were significant discrepancies in his description of those voters, and the staff assisting them - the only disabled voters that afternoon.

The problem with his account of what he claims to have witnessed begins in the first minute, the first 30 seconds, of his video.  The Clark Lake Group home residents and staff voted an hour earlier; they were back home AT the Clark Lake Group home when Monty Jensen claims to have witnessed the misconduct which resulted in an expensive investigation.  If you compare the account by Jensen, which no one else other than perhaps his girlfriend supports, and the account of the Clark Lake residents and staff, the timing alone that Jensen claims makes this accusation impossible.  But his description also doesn't match up.

No one else who was there that afternoon supports Monty Jensen's claims.  Not the auditor and other employees, not the other people who were there voting or on other business, not the disabled individuals themselves; they don't agree with Monty Jensen's bogus accusations.  Now the right, is making excuses,  is claiming that Jensen is the victim here, in the outcome of the investigation - at least, some of them are.  The right, as with the James O'Keefe bogus videos, where parts were faked, didn't learn a very important lesson. 

A lesson I learned at my father's knee. The lesson that when something is too good to be true, it pretty much isn't true.  And the obverse, the other side of the coin, is also true; that something that is too bad to be true likely is not true either.

This is even more true when the person telling the 'story' comes out the hero: in this case the only person who comes out a hero is Monty Jensen, and then only in his version of events.  His version would have us believe that he is the only person in Crow Wing County who will stand up for these poor exploited disabled persons.  Persons he very wrongly describes over and over and over and over in the most derogatory and inaccurate terms as being too intellectually helpless to pick a candidate.  Monty Jensen would have us believe that only he, right wing superhero Monty, would speak up, would object to the very public exploitation of these people.  A version of events which has gotten him a great deal of public attention, including at least one right wing radio interview, and attention from Flummoxed Fox Cable News (which I would bet is NOT covering the investigation outcome), a version which no one else will support.  Stories like the one told by Monty Jensen, or the ones told by James O'Keefe lend themselves to the exploitation of the credulous, the unquestioning thinker, the gullible goons who are too willing to be exploited, and the lend themselves to the public attention paid to the teller.

And let me assure you - it was very public where they voted.  The courthouse does not provide voting booths for people voting absentee at the Auditor's office.  EVERYONE coming and going can see and hear everything.  Neither the disabled voters, or their assitants, or Monty Jensen was inside any little cloth-sided cubicle when this happened.  If Monty Jensen HAD approached these people during voting, they would have been well aware of it.

What would be funny if it were not so serious is that this total lack of evidence is not considered conclusive by the right.  They still believe that Monty Jensen MUST have seen something bad. This is evident by the comments on the story at the online Brainerd Dispatch site, and this has been evident in my exchanges with my right wing friends who promote and believe these stories.  If the roles had been reversed, if it were a Republican or Tea Partier or some other conservative who had been so vilely accused, and if there was a fairly exhaustive investigation which did not support the accusation, they would be outraged that anyone could consider this other than conclusive against the Jensen accusation.  They would - rightly (pun intended) - ridicule anyone ELSE who so blithely ignored the facts.

But all too often the right, specifically a significant segment of the right is no longer about facts.  The right is about the narrative; they have a "tell me a story I want to hear" mentality, never mind if it is fiction, never mind if it is a lie, never mind the accuracy of facts. 

This is not acting in good faith.  This is not acting with integrity.  This is not acting with intelligence. 

Whether it be Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has never passed a single fact check at politifact.com with a truthful or even nearly or partially truthful rating. Or the commenters like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and especially weepy Glenn Beck at  Fox News who promote all kinds of lunacy as fact, and nearly never comes back with a correction later when everyone else presents them.  Rush Limbaugh builds every one of his radio shows around a few pieces of information that have some tangential connection to fact, but then skews into unreality, unquestioned by his audience.  UNQUESTIONED, because they want the conspiracy theories, the hysteria that lacks fact to support the claims to be true. THEY WANT IT, they want it badly, so facts be damned.

Monty Jensen, 29, of Crow Wing Township, filed a complaint Nov. 1 with Ryan's office, the day before the election, requesting an investigation into a situation he said he saw Oct. 29 while filling out his absentee ballot.

No, he didn't see what he put in his complaint.  He didn't see anything of the kind.

In his affidavit, Jensen said he witnessed what appeared to be staff members from a group home filling out a client's ballot and verbally instructing a client who to vote for during absentee balloting.
The right wants to believe that Jensen must have seen this, no matter how many other people, including the quite competent group of disabled people he insults in his video, over and over and over by describing them as 'mentally incompetent'.  These were not incapacitated people mentally.  These were people who have strong ideas and feelings about issues and candidates who are quite capable of speaking up for themselves, of selecting who they want to vote for; they just needed help with the physical process of completing the ballot.  Jensen's entire premise hinges on the notion he promotes that these people couldn't or wouldn't choose a candidate for themselves. 

This foundational premise is inaccurate, and insulting; it is profoundly untrue.  These individuals need assistance; that is why they live in a group home.  Some, but not all, of them have been assigned guardians by going through the legal process to determine their competence, and their voting rights were specifically NOT restricted by the court.  That means qualified people had to present evidence and testimony to a judge for that to happen - qualified people, not casual people with an agenda, with an axe to grind, like Monty Jensen.  Monty Jensen wants his audience - because he has from the very beginning sought an audience, not simply filed his complaint - to believe that you don't need to know anything about people's capacity, you don't need to have any testing of them, or to have special training to understand this.  Monty Jensen wants you to believe that someone who is bone ignorant about brain injuries or determining functional levels can 'just tell' by casual uninformed observation, that everyone can.  It is comforting to believe you don't need to know anything, or that the world is less complex than it really is.

Wow, how well this plays into the dumbing down of the right, the same right which believes any idiot can do any job in government without training or education, if they are simply willing to voice the political agenda that the right wants to hear and believe. This plays into the narrative of the right that insists 'common sense' solutions will work; we don't need facts on which to base policy, we don't need any complex or detailed analysis to make good government decisions.  Be like Bush, go with your gut, with what you want to believe might be true, and the hell with facts, the hell with complex problems solving reality based thinking.  THAT kind of government, thoughtful government is much harder to carry out, and doesn't favor their side.

Jensen said Friday that he hadn't yet spoken to Ryan about the outcome to his complaint so he didn't want to comment on that. Jensen said he needs to review the case and if he feels it was done improperly - he has some concerns about it already, he said. Then he said he will take it to the secretary of state's office or FBI. He said if it's a legislative issue over voter assistance at the polls, he'll take it to area lawmakers.
I will make a bet right here, right now with Penigma readers.  Jensen won't go to the Secretary of State, because the right has so wrongly vilified Mark Ritchie, and there is no story supporting Jenesn for Ritchie to find.  Jensen won't go to the FBI either, because he already knows they would find that he wasn't honest, that he wasn't factual, that there was no basis for his accusation - that he made it up to serve a purpose.  And the FBI doesn't like people lying to them; they take it seriously.

Jensen will go to a sympathetic Republican law maker with his 'issue'.  He will seek out someone who will also not give a damn if his accusations are true.  Because it will play into the larger pattern of efforts by the right to disenfranchise people, to take away their right to vote; in this case it will be disabled people. I predict that the right is going to try to disenfranchise this segment of disabled voters, in the mistaken belief they vote far more for Democrats than for Republicans.  This idea is not unique to me, it is an observation that has been made to me by advocates for the disabled about this incident.  They don't - but Republicans think they do, and as long as they believe it, they don't bother checking the facts.

Voter fraud claims are a staple of the right wing, and they are pretty much consistently never true.  The right wing promotes the craziest possible stories.......stories that don't turn out to be true.  They always, always have a left wing cartoon villain for the right wing audience to boo and hiss.  James O'Keefe played it out as a badly costumed, totally false melodrama targeting ACORN for voter fraud - except there was no voter fraud, and only minimal voter registration problems.  ACORN was a target for having registered large numbers of poor voters, black and other minority voters, more of whom voted Democrat than Republican.  The right just doesn't want these people, these legal and qualified American citizens, participating in our elective, representative form of government.  They repeatedly attempt to disenfranchise anyone who is likely to vote for someone other than the right.  The right intends to use this claim by Jensen, even though it is false, to make voting more difficult for every voter in every election in the hope that it will benefit their minority.

The current stories that have circulated in the last couple of months illustrate this claim perfectly.  I will use my favorite source for them, my friend Mitch's blog Shot in the Dark, because he collects and promotes all these stories eagerly without fact checking, often holding back the identity of the source, which of course limits any accountability for the factless feckless claims.  He has promoted the widely circulated but bogus story of the Cincinnati School students being bribed to vote - NO they weren't, but that will be a separate post; I have an update.  He has promoted an anonymous email that those terrible SEIU union goons took advantage of someone's aged Alzheimer's afflicted mother to vote for Al Franken in the last election.  You will note that the Jensen story had the same attack lodged against the unions; they are a regular target, it is part of that agenda I mentioned earlier, it is part of why this is an accusation tailored to serve a specific agenda, and not an honest accusation.  When I challenged Mitch to check the voter rolls, in the alleged Alzheimer's voter fraud accusation, he wouldn't - but he claimed it could have maybe, possibly, happened even if it didn't! So he didn't need to check, in fact refused repeatedly to check. NO. It couldn't happen.  It couldn't happen,  precisely BECAUSE you can check. You can check voter records, you can check care facility records, you can investigate such allegations effectively.  Then he circulated THIS story, and interviewed Jensen on his radio show. I can't wait to see the spin he puts on no one anywhere supporting Jensen's story. 

After that he went with the false 103 ballot story.  That is the one where some right wing nut claimed that 103 fraudulent ballots were found in Hennepin County, ballots which were consecutive, and unmarked except for Dayton votes, and unsigned by election judges.  It was even reported in the news! NO. The news mentioned the total from Dinkytown in connection with stupidly large numbers of frivolous votes being made.  If there were 103 consecutive, otherwise blank ballots, they would be legitimate ballot challenges.  There is no indication in any news media, or from anyone who was THERE at the recount that any such ballots exist.  The frivolous ballot challenges are an embarassment to the GOP, a failed tactic that was never anything other than an attempt to slow down the final results of a lost election being decided.

The fuss about the 103 frivolous ballots from the Dinkytown precinct? That just means that they were absentee ballots that were not opened at an polling site by an election judge; they were handled at the court house.  Anyone who believes otherwise is simply ignorant about election law and vote processing.  (See the separate Penigma post on that hoax.)

But it is to this audience on the right which trusts their sources without critical thinking, regardless of how often they are not told the real story that these narratives are intended to appeal. Shame, shame on them, for not demanding facts, for not asking themselves after so many lies, "is this true" before believing these stories.

2 comments:

  1. DG, generally this is excellent, but your last paragraph is a little unclear. I think you mean to say that no news organization found this to be true (about the 103 ballots).

    The right has been promoting voting tests, has been championing disolution of unions, has been promoting doing away with get out the vote drives and voter registration efforts (certainly those of the left) for many decades. The reasons change, but the cause is the same, they appear to be actively seeking to restrict the number of Democrats who may/will vote. Everyone wants to win elections, but no one worth a piss in a poke wants it so much that they'd destroy our democracy for it, or at least, there sure shouldn't be. Those who seek to undermine the ability of their fellow citizens to vote are improperly denying those people who disagree with them the right to participate in democracy. It's beyond wrong, it's highly unAmerican.

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  2. Thanks for the edit catch Pen. The status of those 103 frivolous ballot challenges has been changing; over the weekend the GOP dropped them. I'm finishing up a separate post which should be up soon to address that voter fraud hoax separate from this one. I kept making changes trying to update, and just ended up making that whole paragraph garbled.

    Neither any news organization, nor the Republicans / Emmer campaign themselves, ever confirmed that story as true. There were simply 103 frivolous ballots from that precinct; the details were more hoax embroidery.

    Moral Panic.

    Devils and Details.

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