Friday, June 20, 2008

Public financing

First off, I'm voting for Ralph Nader and feel I need to add that for any slow readers. I will not be voting for Barack and I will not be voting for John McCain.

Thursday, Barack Obama decided he would opt out of public financing, go back on his word, and help destroy the system put in place to curtail exactly the kind of big-money abuse he, no doubt, would like to bring back to the White House.

Everyone weighed in on this yesterday (everyone in the community: "see Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DNC OR GOP? WHO CAN TELL?," Cedric's "Extreme DNC Makeover!," Mike's "LAT and Barack -- liars liars pants on fire," Ruth's "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," Kat's "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese" and Rebecca's "the liar barack" and yesterday's snapshot" -- from C.I.'s snapshot today). However, I have a group Thursday evenings and I do not journal on Thursdays. So I am picking it up today.

I would love to be able to steer you to some left voices outside the community; however, they're all playing cat-got-our-tongues. Hey, Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden, what happened to your lie that you'd hold Barack's feet to the fire? I guess Tom Hayden can't say a damn word since his 1988 race set a record for the amount of money spent on a statewide, non-gubantorial race. But they all have their excuses to stay silent.

So I'm highlighting John McCain. John McCain is right on this and if the pathetic and subserviant 'left' doesn't have the guts to call Barack out, that just leaves McCain.

Barack Obama Breaks Promise On Public Fundraising

HARRISBURG "Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Robert A. Gleason, Jr. issued the following statement after hearing the news that Barack Obama flip-flopped on his earlier promise to participate in the public financing system:"Barack Obama continues to say one thing and do another, further proving that his rhetoric just doesn't match his record. Obama continues to claim that he is ushering in a new day in politics, but this latest flip-flop proves that he is nothing more than a typical old-fashioned politician.“Pennsylvanians are tired of candidates who take the route that is politically expedient, especially when they are contradicting themselves. The hardworking people of this great Commonwealth are looking for a Presidential candidate that is going to stick to his word, and that is why I am confident Pennsylvania voters are going to pull the lever for John McCain this November."
In the fall of 2007, Barack Obama pledged to accept public financing.
Throughout the primaries, Barack Obama claimed to support the public financing system and even co-sponsored legislation to preserve the system.
Throughout 2008, Barack Obama has said he would pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee on public financing. In The Fall Of 2007, Barack Obama Pledged To Accept Public Financing:In The Fall Of 2007, Obama Answered "Yes" To Question "Will You Participate In The Presidential Public Financing System" If His Opponent Likewise Agreed. "The [Obama] campaign went even further in answers to a questionnaire sent to the various political campaigns in September 2007 by the Midwest Democracy Network. The questionnaire posed a very simple question to the candidates: 'If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?' You can read Obama's response here. The candidate highlighted the simple answer 'Yes' and elaborated as follows: …" (Michael Dobbs, "The Obama 'Pledge,'" The Washington Post's Fact Checker, 2/20/08)

Read Obama's Full Response Answering "Yes" He Would Participate In Public Financing In General Election If His Opponent Agreed To Do So:

QUESTION: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?"

OBAMA: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. I introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and am the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill to reform the presidential public financing system. In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (r-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Midwest Democracy Network Presidential Candidate Questionnaire: The Responses Of John Edwards And Barack Obama," Midwest Democracy Network, Released 11/27/07)Throughout The Primaries, Barack Obama Claimed To Support The Public Financing System And Even Co-Sponsored Legislation To Preserve The System:"Mr. Obama Was The Candidate Who Proposed The [Public Financing] Pledge In The First Place, In February 2007, A Time When He Was Not Raising The Prodigious Sums He Is Now." (Elisabeth Bumiller, "Skirmishing By McCain And Obama On Financing," The New York Times, 2/15/08)
Obama Spokesman Bill Burton In March Of 2007: "If Senator Obama is the nominee, he will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Jim Kuhnhenn, "Federal Regulators Rule Candidates Can Return Donations For General Election," The Associated Press, 3/1/07)

In Response To A Midwest Democracy Network Questionnaire, Obama Said He Would Accept Public Funding In The General Election. Question: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?" Obama: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network,{fb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665}/MDNNATIONALRELEASE.PDF, 11/27/07)
Barack Obama Even Referred To His Plan As A "Fundraising Pledge" For His Opponents To Accept. Obama: "In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network,{fb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665}/MDNNATIONALRELEASE.PDF, 11/27/07)

Barack Obama: "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network,{fb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665}/MDNNATIONALRELEASE.PDF, 11/27/07)

In February 2007, Obama Co-Sponsored Sen. Feingold's Legislation Designed To Keep Current Public Funding System Relevant. "Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) added his name to legislation overhauling the public financing of presidential elections this week, earning him plaudits from watchdog groups. … Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer yesterday urged Obama's presidential rivals to follow his lead and cosponsor this session's bill from Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). It would raise significantly the spending cap for candidates accepting public funds during their White House campaigns in an effort to keep the system relevant." (Elana Schor, "Obama Co-Signs Bill To Publicly Fund Campaigns," The Hill, 2/16/07)
Sen. Feingold Highlighted One Section Of The Bill That Would Force Candidates To Opt In Or Out Of The System For The Entire Election Before The Primaries. Sen. Feingold: "One very important provision of this bill ties the primary and general election systems together and requires candidates to make a single decision on whether to participate. Candidates who opt out of the primary system and decide to rely solely on private money cannot return to the system for the general election. And candidates must commit to participate in the system in the general election if they want to receive Federal matching funds in the primaries." (Sen. Russ Feingold, Congressional Record, 1/30/07, p. S1346)

Throughout 2008, Barack Obama Has Said He Would Pursue An Agreement With The Republican Nominee On Public Financing:In June 2008, Barack Obama Tells The USA Today That He Would Pursue A Public Financing Agreement With John McCain. "On campaign finance. Obama said he'll accept public financing for his campaign -- which would limit the amount of spending -- only if McCain agrees to curb spending by the Republican National Committee. 'I won't disarm unilaterally,' he said." (Kathy Kiely, "Obama Reaching Out To The White Working Class," USA Today, 6/6/08)

In April 2008, Barack Obama Says "I Have Promised That I Will Sit Down With John McCain And Talk About Can We Preserve A Public System."

FOX NEWS' CHRIS WALLACE:" Wall Street Journal says that you are prepared to run the first privately financed campaign, presidential campaign, since Watergate. True?"

OBAMA: Well, look. We've done a wonderful job raising money from the grassroots. I'm very proud of the fact that in March -- in February, for example, 90 percent of our donations came over the Internet. Our average donation is $96, and we've done an amazing job, I think, mobilizing people to finance our campaigns in small increments. I have promised that I will sit down with John McCain and talk about can we preserve a public system, as long as we are taking into account third party independent expenditures. Because what I don't intend to do" (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)
Barack Obama: "I Would Be Very Interested In Pursuing Public Financing" "

MR. WALLACE: "If you can get that agreement, you would go for a publicly financed campaign?"

OBAMA: "What I don't intend to do is to allow huge amounts of money to be spent by the RNC, the Republican National Committee, or by organizations like the Swift Boat organization, and just stand there without -- (cross talk)."

WALLACE: "But if you get that agreement?"

OBAMA: "I would be very interested in pursuing public financing, because I think not every candidate is going to be able to do what I've done in this campaign, and I think it's important to think about future campaigns." (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)

In February 2008, Obama Wrote Op-Ed In USA Today Stating That He Would "Agressively Pursue" And Agreement With The Republican Nominee Guaranteeing "A Publicly Funded General Election In 2008 With Real Spending Limits." "In 2007, shortly after I became a candidate for president, I asked the Federal Election Commission to clear any regulatory obstacles to a publicly funded general election in 2008 with real spending limits. The commission did that. But this cannot happen without the agreement of the parties' eventual nominees. As I have said, I will aggressively pursue such an agreement if I am my party's nominee. I do not expect that a workable, effective agreement will be reached overnight. The campaign-finance laws are complex, and filled with loopholes that can render meaningless any agreement that is not solidly constructed. ¦ I propose a meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits. The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement. And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Senator McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues. In l996, an agreement on spending limits was reached by Sen. John Kerry and Gov. William Weld in their Massachusetts Senate contest. They agreed to limits on overall and personal spending and on a mechanism to account for outside spending. The agreement did not accomplish all these candidates hoped, but they believe that it made a substantial difference in controlling outside groups as well as their own spending. We can have such an agreement this year, and it could hold up. I am committed to seeking such an agreement if that commitment is matched by Senator McCain. When the time comes, we will talk and our commitment will be tested. I will pass that test, and I hope that the Republican nominee passes his." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "Opposing View: Both Sides Must Agree," USA Today, 2/20/08) Read the full text at PA

If you use the links (community links) before the statement from the McCain campaign, you'll see Mike calling out the Los Angeles Times. As he should. The McCain campaign should call out the Los Angeles Times which apparently thought they were Jossip on Thursday using "hissy fit" in a headline and applying it to McCain.

The facts are:

1) Barack promised to use public financing.

2) Barack broke his word.

3) No presidential candidate has opted out of public financing since it started.

4) It was created both to limit big money's influence and to track the money. Under Richard Nixon, you couldn't track the money. Suitcases of it just flowed in and flowed out.

So this is not a minor thing. At its most basic, Barack lied again. In the bigger picture, Barack's doing his part to rip apart a reform that the country needed. In the long-range picture, in 2012 and 2016, don't whine when your (Democratic) candidate can't raise big money and the Republican one can. Don't say, "We're doing public financing! The Republicans aren't!"

Barack gets to break all the rules. He gets to use homophobia to scare up voters in South Carolina and no one can call him out. Barack isn't just destroying the Democratic Party in 2008, he is doing long range damage.

I have no plans to highlight McCain again. (I do know Cindy McCain, as I've disclosed before.) But I can't promise that I won't. If the pathetic 'left' 'leaders' refuse to call out nonsense and McCain's calling it out, I may very well highlight him again.

In terms of The Common Ills community, the community voted (I voted in that) and we are all supporting Ralph Nader (C.I. didn't vote in the poll). But if you're someone who reads this site and are supporting McCain, I'm not going to make it a point to trash him. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Republican because I disagree with their policies. So I would disagree with McCain on every issue. To call him out, I'd have to see him doing something that went beyond the pale even for a Republican.

Sunny read an e-mail Thursday from one of my readers and he isn't a community member. He is a long term reader. He said he was voting for John McCain. He was a huge Hillary supporter (since at least November -- that's the first time he wrote about supporting Hillary) and he can't vote for Barack. He was wondering if he was going to feel welcome here or not?

I can't vote for Barack. I don't blame you at all. Barack's a liar. I've shared the story of C.I. and I going to the private fundraiser for Barack's Senate run and finding out what a LIAR he was and leaving immediately.

You will never come to this site and see me pulling a Taylor Marsh. Unlike, Marsh, I've looked in the devil's eyes. If Nader's not your choice, he's not your choice. If McCain feels right for you, that's who you should vote for. Though I will not vote for him, C.I. and I both know Cindy McCain and she does many wonderful things. So although I don't see anything to support in McCain, he must have qualities invisible to me because he and Cindy are very happy together. If he feels right for you, that's who you have to vote for in November.

The only time we lose in a democracy is when we vote out of fear. I don't want anyone coming here who supports Hillary (and most of my readers did long before I supported her) and is dealing with the reality that -- barring a floor fight or another Barack scandal -- she's not going to be the nominee to fear that I'm judging their vote. If you can't vote for Barack, I hear you. I can't either. For me, the vote that feels right is Ralph Nader. If that's the vote that feels right to you, great. If John McCain is the vote that feels right to you, that's great as well.

Your vote is your vote. You own it. No political party owns it. Just you. You need to use it in the way that feels right to you.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 20, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, today is World Refugee Day, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Matthew Chiroux was the subject of a broadcast CBS 23 News (WIFR, link has text and video) last night:

Mike Garrigan: 24-year-old Matthis Chiroux says he will not deploy to Iraq. The young soldier was asked to report to duty June 15th but he refuses, calling the war in Iraq and illegal war. Chiroux has been in the US army for five years and has completed a tour of Afghanistan; however, he says he has no intentions of returning.

Matthis Chiroux: My decision was entirely based on my desire to no longer continue to violate my core values to support an illegal and unconstitutional occupation.

NBC's WAFF 48 also reported on Matthis last night (link has text and video):

Kimberly Essex: An army Sergeant is refusing to deploy from Iraq and his family is dealing with his decision to do so. WAFF 48 reporter Eric Sollman joins us now and, Eric, you spoke with the soldier's father.

Eric Sollman: Yes, Kim, and being a military man himself, Robert Chiroux, he has mixed -- mixed reactions to the whole ordeal. His son Matthis, a military photo journalist, is one of thousands of military ready reserve troops recalled to combat and now, according to army officials, he's one of about 700 called from this group that have failed to report in the last seven years. Last time Matthis Chiroux made local news was when [clip from December 2004 shown] was four years ago. The story involved his girlfriend at the time and a car break-in. Now this US army Sergeant is making national headlines for refusing to redeploy to Iraq. He's not hiding his protest and his family isn't dodging questions either.

Robert Chiroux: My son made the decision not to report. He feels that the war in Iraq is unconstitutional and unjust.

Eric Sollman: His father Robert is a navy veteran who lives in Huntsville [Alabama]. He said his son was to report to Fort Jackson Sunday for reactivation from the Individual Ready Reserve. Matthis refused.

Robert Chiroux: My son has certainly indicated that if he had been called back from the Inactive Ready Reserve to active duty to serve in Afghanistan, he would not have hesitated to go. So I know that my son -- inspite of things that I have heard said of him -- he's certainly not a coward. He just has decided that he feels this war is illegal and he's taking a stand.

Eric Sollman: While Robert doesn't necessarily agree with his son's stand, he stands by him.

Robert Chiroux: My son asked me to come to Washington [DC] to be with him on Father's Day. I had some reservations about standing behind my son while he made his statement but he's my son and, of course, I love him and I'm going to stand with him.

Eric Sollman: And Robert says he would gladly take his son's place and serve if he could and, Kim, of course there were a lot of issues that we talked about that we couldn't fit into the story so we put
his interview in its entirity on our website at

Kimberly Essex: Well your heart just goes out to this father because he really is in a tough position. He wants to support his son but it doesn't coincide with maybe what he really believes.

Eric Sollman: And he says it's something that only a parent could understand.

Brett Haas notes, "The 24-year-old is in Washington lining up support from like-minded members of Congress." AFP explains, "Chiroux served five years in the army, with tours in Afghanistan, Japan, Germany and the Philippines."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today is World Refugee Day. The
United Nations' IRIN notes that "Iraqi experts have been urging the government and international community to do more to help the large number of Iraqi refugees in the Middle East" and quote Iraqi Parliamentarian Abdul-Khaliq Zankana stating, "Day after day Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries are getting more frustrated by the harsh conditions in which they live. Sooner or later they are going to have a negative impact on the stability of the whole region." Amnesty International has released Iraq: Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis (here for HTML and here for PDF) this week. Picking up with obligations: "Under international law a duty exists to not send or force a person to return to a situation where they would be at risk of serious human rights abuses. This principle attaches to all states as a principle of customary international law, as well as to state parties to the ICCPR, Convention against Torture and Refugee Convention and Protocol." But as the report points out the resposibility isn't just to host countries, the international community has an obligation to provide assistance as well.

The report repeatedly stresses that refugees cannot be returned to Iraq because the country is not stable. On Northern Iraq, they note: "There have been acts of political violence between Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds and against members of the Yazidi religious minority in several areas along the border between Kurdistan and Nineweh (Mosul) governorate. Tension and insecurity also increased when attacks by a Turkey-based armed group, the Kurdistand Workers Party (PKK), against Turkish troops stationed near the border with Iraq were followed in October 2007 by Turkish military operations against PKK bases in northern Iraq." When even the highly touted 'safe' region of Iraq is not safe, there's no 'safe' area. Despite that reality, many countries are attempting to send Iraqi refugees back to Iraq.

Norway was attempting to do that but, the report notes, it appears to have stopped. Other countries continue attempting deportation. Among the offenders are Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece and the Netherlands.

"Instead of avoiding the reality," the report notes, "the international community should be confronting a medium- to long-term displacement crisis, in view of the likelihood that Iraqi refugees will need sancturay for years to come. Recognition of the on-going nature of the crisis must be grasped now if the suffering of the millions of displaced Iraqis is to be ameliorated. Host nations need to be provided with on-going assistance and support from the international community through increased and sustained funding."

US senators Hillary Clinton and Ben Cardin and House Representatives Alcee Hastings and John Dingell sent a letter to the White House today on the refugee issue (Barack Obama refused to sign on). Here's the letter sent to the White House:

As you know, the Iraq War and subsequent ethnic and sectarian conflict has caused the displacement of millions of Iraqis. While we have great concerns about the United States response to this humanitarian crisis, we write to you about a specific population of especially vulnerable Iraqis: those who have worked for our government and American organizations in Iraq and whose lives have been placed in grave danger because of that service. Recent statistics and reports have indicated that the current system of identifying and resettling our Iraqi allies has structural complications and procedural inefficiencies. Since March 2003, the United States has admitted fewer than 8,000 Iraqi refugees in total. Your Administration's goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees during this fiscal year seems an unlikely goal, given that less than 6,000 have been resettled to date. At a recent Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) briefing, one panelist, an attorney providing pro bono legal services to help resettle Iraqi refugees noted, "unresponsiveness and protracted delays in interviews and processing have themselves contributed to…individual emergencies…The cost in human lives and suffering due to institutional breakdowns in such aberrational instances speaks to the pressing need to ensure that our system is better equipped to respond to these challenges." The role our own government has played in prolonging the suffering of our courageous Iraqi allies who risked their lives to assist our country is troubling and simply unacceptable. To better understand why the Administration continues to delay processing our Iraqi allies for resettlement, we respectfully request that you provide us with the necessary information in response to the following: • While we are pleased that the United States has opened a processing center in Baghdad to assist Iraqis at risk in applying for resettlement to the United States, we remain concerned by reports that the office lacks the necessary personnel and resources at this time to quickly and efficiently process those Iraqis who are in imminent danger. It is most troubling that only Iraqis with sufficient connections to enter the Green Zone are able to receive help. What is the Administration's immediate and long-term strategy to improve and increase the efficiency of the current processing system? • At the Baghdad center, in particular, significant problems inhibit expeditious and efficient processing of our Iraqi allies. For example, logistical and security issues prevent access to the Green Zone for many applicants and contribute to complications with assisting applicants with medical conditions. In light of the inherent difficulties of in-country processing, what is the current status of a proposal by State Department officials to allow the Department of Defense to airlift Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants for expedited processing to a central processing center at the United States Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait? As you know, this past April, England's Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered an airlift of British-affiliated Iraqis to a military airfield in Oxfordshire, England in order to expeditiously and safely process them there. Denmark also evacuated and resettled 370 Iraqi interpreters and other Iraqis who worked for Danish troops prior to the Danish contingent's departure from Iraq last year. We strongly urge your consideration of a proposal similar to those that are now being successfully implemented by our Coalition partners. • The appointment of Ambassador James Foley at the State Department and Lori Scialabba at the Department of Homeland Security as senior coordinators within those agencies with respect to Iraqi refugee issues was an important and useful step. However, it appears as if there are still problems with respect to interagency cooperation. One particular problem that has been identified is that FBI background checks, even for those Iraqis who have been working directly with the United States military in Iraq, are subject to inordinately lengthy delays. To address this ongoing issue, we strongly urge you to appoint a Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues in the White House. • When will the Department of Homeland Security issue its policy directive to implement the provisions of Sections 1241-1249 of Public Law 110-181, the "Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act," for which it is responsible? • What is your Administration's policy regarding medical parole for those Iraqis whose cases are of high priority due to serious medical conditions? Our government has a moral responsibility to provide aid and protection to those courageous Iraqi allies who have risked their lives and the lives of their families to assist American efforts to build a democratic and stable Iraq. We are deeply concerned that, to date, you have not acknowledged their sacrifice or effectively marshaled the assets of our government to help them. We urge you to speak out about the service of our brave Iraqi allies and direct the appropriate agencies in your Administration to take immediate steps to provide them with the attention and resources they desperately need and deserve. Each day, more Iraqi allies face increased danger or even murder for their service to the United States. To ensure that more do not suffer because they chose to help us, a prompt response to these concerns is appreciated and we believe appropriate. Sincerely,
Alcee L. Hastings, M.C.
Benjamin L. Cardin, U.S.S.
John D. Dingell, M.C.
Russell D. Feingold, U.S.S.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S.S.
Robert P. Casey, Jr., U.S.S.
John W. Olver, M.C.
Janice D. Schakowsky, M.C.
G.K. Butterfield, M.C.
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Timothy H. Bishop, M.C.
Joseph Crowley, M.C.
Diane E. Watson, M.C.
Earl Blumenauer, M.C.
Peter Welch, M.C.
Hilda L. Solis, M.C.
Ike Skelton, M.C.

Repeating, Barack elected not to sign. Consider it another skipped vote -- or, dropping back to the Illinois state legislature, a "present" one.
William C. Mann (AP) observes, "A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced than any other nationality, a survey of the world's refugees reported Thursday." The organization is US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and they also rank the ten worst countries. For Iraq, they note: "Shia militias in Iraq have particularly singled out Palestinians for retribution since the fall of the Hussein regime in 2003. From 2004 to 2007 more than 85,000 Palestinians fled targeted violence, leaving only 15,000 in Iraq. Gunmen in Ministry of the Interior uniforms have killed Palestinians, firing on UN buildings in the process. Insurgents have tortured Palestinians to death and fired mortars into Palestinian neighborhoods." IRIN notes the UNHCR's findings that 50% of the 50,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon are children. Citing the International Organization for Migration, Kim Gamel (AP) explains, "But women and children who have been forced to flee their homes are particularly vulnerable because the men in the family have often been killed or abandoned them in a conservative Islamic society that generally doesn't value women in the workplace." Adnkronos International notes the Spanish Commission of Refugee AID (CEAR) which found that "All 1600 refugees who sought asylum in Spain in 2007 were rejected by the government."

On refugees, the
Times of London's Deborah Haynes won an award from Amnesty Interntaional for her coverage of Iraqi collaborators who face obstacles to safe harbor from the United Kingdom. Haynes wrote multiple articles on the topic. As noted before, we're not concerned with the plight of the collaborators. They have their champions -- such as Haynes.

Meanwhile, the invasion of Amara continues with Iraqi troops and US troops taking part in the 'crackdown.'
Hannah Allam and Ali al Basri (McClatchy Newspapers) quote Faiq Hanoun declaring yesterday, "The city is quiet even though the operation has started, and I haven't heard a gun-shot or the sound of a plane. Life is going on in the normal fashion. Markets are open and movement in and out of the city hasn't stopped." Ernesto London and Aahad Ali (Washington Post) note the arrest of the vice governor which "angered followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr . . . Sadrist leaders in Maysan have vowed to cooperate with Iraqi troops but have suggested that the government is trying to expand its presence in Sadr strongholds to weaken the movement politically before provincial elections scheduled for the fall." Alissa J. Rubin and Suadad Salhy (New York Times) discover, "There were reports of rough treatment and especially of arrests of eminent followers of Mr. Sadr. It was unclear whether the units making the arrests had warrants, as required under Iraqi law. If so, Mr. Sadr's followers said they would not protest the detentions. However, Mr. Sadr's supporters protested at least two cases in which Iraqi troops seized family members of wanted figures when they could not find the person they were seeking. Iraqi military leaders responded that they had arrested only one relative of a wanted man. The American military has used similar tactics, drawing criticism from Iraqis in and out of the government." ANTARA NEWS and AFP explain that today saw the arrests of five more aides to al-Sadr. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) quotes Adnan al-Selawi ("head of the Sadr movement's office in Amara) stating that "we found many breaches and violations" in the 'security sweep.'

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 3 lives and left seven people wounded, a Nineveh roadside bombing left eleven Iraqi soldiers wounded, a Mosul car bombing left six police officers wounded and, dropping back to yesterday, Diyala Province home bombings left one person wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Iskandariya.

Meanwhile, in the US,
Robert O'Harrow Jr. (Washington Post) reveals that the Democrats have set up a panel to investigate the contracts 'awarded' throughout the illegal war. The press release at US Senator Jim Webb's online office notes, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have named a co-chair and three additional commissioners to the Commission on Wartime Contracting. Established as the result of legislation introduced by Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last spring and signed into law January 28, 2008, the Commission is charged with addressing the systemic problems associated with the federal government's wartime-support, reconstruction, and private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Today the
US military announced: "One Soldier was killed and five wounded in three roadside bomb attacks on Coalition force patrols in Diyala province June 20. All casualties were evacuated to a Coalition hospital."

Turning to US politics, Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing [see Wally's "
THIS JUST IN! DNC OR GOP? WHO CAN TELL?," Cedric's "Extreme DNC Makeover!," Mike's "LAT and Barack -- liars liars pants on fire," Ruth's "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," Kat's "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese" and Rebecca's "the liar barack" and yesterday's snapshot] leads the New York Times to editorialize "Public Funding on the Ropes" and Team Nader notes:
Ralph Nader stands for shifting the power from the big corporations back to the people.
Full stop.
End of story.
Contrast that with Senator Obama.
The old Obama said that he thought NAFTA was a "big mistake."
The new Obama
isn't so sure.
The old Obama said he would abide by public spending limits in this election.
The new Obama he says
he won't.
The old Obama said he was for a change in foreign policy and surrounded himself with innovative thinkers with a chance to make a difference.
The new Obama has surrounded himself with veterans of the military industrial complex
status quo.
The old Obama talked economic populism.
The new Obama talks corporate-speak and surrounds himself with economists from the
Chicago School.
You know where Nader and Gonzalez stand on corporate power.
And that
isn't changing.
We're at six percent nationwide in the most recent
CNN poll.
We're going to be on ten state ballots by the end of June.
And we're shooting for 40 by the end of the summer.
Together, we are moving forward.
And together, we will make a difference in November.

Non-Iraq related, independent journalist
David Bacon continues to explore the issue of immigration. And his latest is "HOW DO YOU SAY JUSTICE IN MIXTECO?" (TruthOut). NOW on PBS (airs tonight in most markets) asks: "Will a booming worldwide middle class drive up consumer costs?" PBS' Washington Week will include AP's Charles Babington, Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus and CNBC and the New York Times' John Harwood.

iraqmatthis chiroux
mcclatchy newspapershannah allemali al basrithe washington posternesto londonoaahad alidavid baconalissa j. rubinthe new york times
washington weekpbscharles babingtondoyle mcmanusnow on pbs