The Stupak amendment is back and may yet derail or delay passage of healthcare reform legislation that the House of Representatives is expected to vote on tomorrow. Last year, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) managed to get language into the House-passed healthcare bill that forbids federal funding of abortion under the healthcare measure and stipulates that nothing in the legislation or the rules to be promulgated by the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare will require any health insurance policy to include abortion coverage. The Senate bill, now before the House, lacks the clear ban that Stupak is demanding in order to support the bill. Other anti-abortion Democrats are expected to oppose the bill without the Stupak amendment.
The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was apparently dumbfounded recently when a reporter asked about the constitutional authority for requiring people to buy health insurance, as mandated in the healthcare reform bills before Congress.
Wilbert Joseph “Billy” Tauzin pledged $80 billion for a “seat at the table” in White House negotiations over the healthcare reform that Barack Obama campaigned for as a candidate and has been promoting during the first year of his presidency. Tauzin, a former congressman from Louisiana’s Third District, is now president and CEO of the powerful drug lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.
People used to say politics makes strange bedfellows. These days, calling any kind of bedfellows strange might qualify as a hate crime. It is probably safer to say that the political highway allows for frequent U-turns, as politicians discover that policies and programs they once decried as ruinous to the republic are now true and righteous.
A driver who crashed a vehicle on a Kabul runway near Leon Panetta's plane Wednesday may have been targeting the U.S. Defense Secretary in a car bomb attack, the Iranian Press TV reported. The Secretary was not injured and the alleged perpetrator has been arrested, the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul said.
A U.S. Army staff sergeant is in military custody following a gruesome shooting spree in rural villages of Afghanistan Sunday that killed at least 16 civilians, nine of them children. The suspect is believed to have carried out the shootings alone before surrendering to military authorities, the New York Times reported. "The initial reporting that we have at this time indicates there was one shooter, and we have one man in custody," said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a NATO spokesman.
The $30 billion sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday is a continuation of a history of U.S. weapons sales that has resulted in the arming of a wide array of enemies as well as friends of America in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The deal includes the sale of 84 F-15 jets and “assorted weaponry” to the Arab kingdom, the Washington Post reported. It also provides for the modernization of 70 of the Saudi's current aircraft, as well as munitions, spare parts, training, and maintenance. The announcement comes at a time of increasing tension between the United States and the Saudis' neighbors in Iran and threats and counter-threats surrounding the strategically important Persian Gulf region.
It was a ceremony to mark the official end of the American military occupation of Iraq. But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (left) sounded more like the United States was moving in to stay when he spoke Wednesday in what the New York Times described as a heavily fortified courtyard at Baghdad Airport with helicopters hovering above.
"At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States became a nation transformed," the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission) said, noting the time at which the first of two planes attacking the World Trade Center struck the north tower. The "transformation" seemed real and dramatic at the time. Even before the shock wore off, the America that some accused of having been on a "holiday from history" since the end of the Cold War was suddenly aroused and united in purpose. The seemingly feckless President became both symbol and spokesman of that new resolve as he stood amid the rubble at "ground zero" at New York, bullhorn in hand, and promised that the people responsible for knocking down the Twin Towers would soon hear from all of us and feel the power of our righteous retribution. Most of the nations of the world, including many that had long been critical of the United States, poured out their sympathy and support. Even the left-wing French newspaper Le Monde published a headline proclaiming, "We Are All Americans."
While much of the nation's news for the past several weeks has been focused on the national debt, the killing of 30 U.S. and seven Afghan troops, along with an interpreter on Saturday reminded Americans of a debt to fighting forces that cannot be repaid. The shooting down of a Chinook transport helicopter by the Taliban insurgents, killing all on board, was another grim reminder that the cost of war cannot adequately be measured in trillions of dollars.