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Spinning Our ?Success? in Iraq

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 12/19/08 05:56

by Terry Burke

Two days of the Star Tribune?s coverage of the shoe throwing incident illustrate how the Strib spins the news to give us an inaccurate picture of the situation in Iraq.

On December 16, the Strib has a large article on page 4 devoted to the incident where Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidei threw his shoes at President Bush. Their sources for the article were a New York Times and an AP article. It is instructive to note what they chose to put in the article and what was edited out.

They did cover the anti-U.S. demonstration in Sadr City ?calling for an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal?, a demonstration in Baghdad for his release, and three paragraphs about his family?s comments. By giving one fourth of the article to Zeidi?s family?s comments and his Che Guevara poster, the Strib personalizes the opposition to the U.S. occupation. The article makes it clear that this individual is opposed to the occupation but leaves out the quotes in the NY Times from other Iraqis who express their country?s opposition.

?Although that action was not expressed in a civilized manner, it showed the Iraqi feelings, which is to object to the American occupation,? said Qutaiba Rajaa, an Iraqi physician.

?I swear by God that all Iraqis with their different nationalities are glad about this act,? said Yaareb Yousif Matti, a teacher from northern Iraq.

If a Strib reader is one of the many who still operate under the illusion that the U.S. is a liberator of Iraq, rather than an occupier, the article does not dispel that notion. There are also two brief letters to the editor on the 16th. One praises the shoe thrower for having the courage to express what the world has been saying about Bush for six years. The other asks what would have happened to the shoe thrower under Hussein.

On December 17th, what actually happens to the shoe thrower under the U.S. occupation is not printed in the Star Tribune.

The Strib ignores news the rest of the world is covering ? that Zeidi has been beaten in custody. According to the BBC, his older brother Dargham states that, ?Muntadar al-Zeidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury.?

Instead, the Strib gives prominent placement and a picture to a 2 column letter that extols the free speech that now exists in Iraq so that someone could throw a shoe at a head of state ? a letter that states that the only consequence will be ?being subject to rules of public behavior?.

So the myth lives on. We liberated Iraq from Hussein. They now have a democracy. We successfully lowered the level of violence with the surge and most Iraqi people are grateful.

Never mind that we broke the country ? hundreds of thousands were killed, injured, made homeless, became refugees, and are unemployed.

When an Iraqi clearly expresses anger over what has been done to his country ? Zeidi said, ?This is for the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq!? ? his act is spun to be a great example of the free speech that now exists. Withhold the information that he was severely beaten in custody. Withhold the quotes from his countrymen supporting his action.

A devoted fan of the Iraqi war can continue to maintain their faith in our ?victory? in Iraq.

Minnesotans deserve more information and less spin.
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Another Slap in the Face to Obama's GLBT Support

Category: Barack Obama
Posted: 12/18/08 11:54

by Dave Mindeman

Barack Obama has given the inaugural invocation to Pastor Rick Warren. That is a slap in the face to his GLBT supporters.

At his news conference today, Obama was asked about the anger that Warren's assignment has generated. He indicated that diversity of opinion was essential to his call for an across the board discussion on the issues.

However, giving such a prominent role to a pastor who has clearly demonstrated anti-gay and ant-choice positions is not the kind of "change" message we thought was coming.

If Obama wanted to throw some kind of "bone" to the social conservatives, then he should have sifted around for a less prominent one. I don't blame GLBT supporters for being angry... they have every right to be. They have been getting the short end of the stick for much too long.

I hope Obama has got more in his change arsenal than this. Real change is not appeasement....it is confronting the status quo and casting it aside.

We aren't seeing that so far. Are we going to at all?
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Campaign Funds For Recount....and Legal Fees?

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 12/16/08 21:05

by Dave Mindeman

Whooooooaaa there Norm...wait a minute. Using campaign funds for your attorneys? You are blurring the lines between campaign funding and personal liabilities. As noted in a Strib article yesterday, Norm is retaining some heavy hitter lawyers.... now we learn how he is going to pay for them. As quoted in Politico:

"We intend to have any legal fees related to what we believe to be a politically inspired legal action to be covered by the Senator?s campaign," said Coleman spokesman Luke Friedrich.

Here are the problems:

1) There is not one shred of evidence, not even circumstantial, that there is any political motivation for these lawsuits.

2) Neither Coleman nor his wife are named as parties in the suits.

3) What you simply "believe", cannot be considered a basis for use of campaign funds for personal legal needs.

Senator Vitter made an FEC request to use campaign funds to defend himself in the DC Madam case....saying that his position as a US Senator made the case a higher profile one.

The FEC ruled against him:

Vitter has so far accumulated over $200,000 in legal bills. The FEC opinion allows him to use campaign funds to pay for only $31,000 of that figure -- the amount related to a Senate ethics committee probe. It does not allow him to tap his campaign coffers to pay for hiring a lawyer to help quash a subpoena issued by Palfrey's defense, or to pay for monitoring Palfrey's criminal proceedings.

Senator Larry Craig's legal fees are somewhat murkier....

A campaign finance report filed in November with the Senate shows Craig spent about $23,000 in campaign money on lawyers in his ethics investigation. The report did not indicate money spent from his campaign coffers on his criminal defense, but Craig spokesman Dan Whiting told CNN at the time that the three-term Republican would use that money on various aspects of his criminal defense.

FEC has numerous precedents that allow campaign funds to hire attorneys for Senate ethics probes.... however, while Senator Craig was clear about money spent for attorneys in the ethics investigation, his reports are not so clear as to whether Craig used campaign money on his Minnesota court actions. The general rule that guides the FEC generally states:

Campaign finance laws generally ban using such funds on items not directly related to one's official duties as an officeholder or candidate.

However, there have been broad interpetations as to what that means. Senator Coleman is moving into a gray area here and FEC guidance should be requested. The Politico article indicates that the Coleman camp has done that -- but the campaign better be careful about any assumptions about what they will say.
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