Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Deja vu for Obama, Congress, healthcare?

September 8, 2009

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President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.

Zelaya struggles to convince U.S. his ouster was military coup

September 3, 2009

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is having a hard time convincing the Obama administration he was deposed by a military coup.
 
Zelaya argues that being awakened at 5 a.m. by soldiers in your presidential palace, flown to another country by hooded and armed military guards and deposited on the tarmac in your pajamas pretty much fits the description of a military coup.
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The Obama administration agrees the scenario is a coup but maybe not a military coup since the legislative and judicial branches were involved as well.
 
The Honduran president met Thursday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to prod her on the issue.
 
He was rewarded with a pledge to cancel $30 million in aid to the de facto government, but did not get a formal military coup declaration. Zelaya said the U.S. decision was nonetheless a sign the region is unified against the coup government.
 
While he awaits his restoration, Zelaya speaks out frequently on the situation in his country. He’s done the speech so often it has become a routine, delivered with a dry sense of humor.
 
“In Honduras, on the 28th of June, barely two months ago, a cruel coup d’etat took place,” he told a George Washington University audience Wednesday.
 
It was a poorly managed affair, Zelaya said, citing a Spanish constitutional law expert who labeled it “anti-aesthetic.”
 
“I can say that it was obscene and not aesthetic to pull out a president at 5 a.m., raiding his residence, shooting guns,” Zelaya said, adding that soldiers pumped 150 bullets into a metal door at the house.
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He had his cell phone as he left his room, and made an effort to call his wife to let her know.
 
“When they saw my cellular, they didn’t want me to make a call to let the people know perhaps,” he said. “They surrounded me, 10 military men with their rifles.

Group accuses U.S. Kabul embassy guards of misconduct

September 2, 2009

Nearly naked, drunken guys dancing around a bonfire and engaging in lewd conduct. And there are pictures and videos. No it’s not a frat party gone wild.  It’s downtime for some private security contractors hired to protect the U.S. embassy in Kabul,  according to the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight.

The First Draft: searching for peace

August 18, 2009

President Barack Obama meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House around 11 a.m. in the long-running quest for Middle East peace that has bedeviled American presidents for decades.

The First Draft: Washington haiku

August 14, 2009

USA-CANYON/Sometimes prose doesn’t quite capture the goings-on in Washington. These haikus might not either, but at least they’re short, which is an appropriate length for many of the capital events these days and easily Twitterable. Poetry is supposed to reduce things to their essence. Just in case these go too far in that direction, there are highlighted links to take you to a fuller explanation, if not a deeper meaning.POTUS hits the roadTo parry health care criticsIn Bozeman. Yeehaw!Hitting a plateau?Feds say economy isLeveling. Really?African sojournEnds for Hillary ClintonA tough trip, completeGrand Canyon freebie,For Obamas and others,aims to lure touristsFor Mrs. Shriver,They gather in Hyannis.Eunice, rest in peaceAnyone can do this. You probably know the rules: three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third. Show us what you’ve got!Photo credit: REUTERS/Rickey Rogers (Grand Canyon, January 2, 2008)

In Bill-Hillary popularity contest, Bill wins

August 12, 2009

Hillary Clinton may be Secretary of State, but her husband Bill still wins the popularity contest.

The First Draft: Hillary Clinton’s bad day

August 11, 2009

CONGO-DEMOCRATIC/CLINTON-OUTBURSTSome days, you really have to feel for Hillary Clinton. And this could be one of those days.

Bill grabs spotlight from Hillary

August 4, 2009

KOREA-NORTH/For months, Bill Clinton has stayed out of the diplomatic spotlight in deference to his wife.

The First Draft: China and healthcare

July 27, 2009

Topics of the day today: more healthcare and U.S.-Chinese relations

President Barack Obama speaks at the beginning of a two-day U.S.-Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, then top Chinese and U.S. officials will work on developing a new framework for U.S.-Chinese relations.

What rift? White House says Obama and Clinton close

July 15, 2009

The White House is tired of seeing stories that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not getting along.