Pete Souza: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice cleans a stain on VP Joe Biden’s suitcoat today
Jonathan Bernstein: Hey Reporters! Do Health Insurance Boycott Organizers Carry Insurance Themselves?
conservative activists are organizing boycotts of health insurance within the exchanges. We’ve had great reporting by Sarah Kliff, and today by Christopher Flavelle, who interviewed Twila Brase, an Obamacare boycott organizer with something called the “Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.” What I really want to know, however, neither Flavelle nor Kliff asked: Are the people organizing these boycotts going without health insurance? Are they going without their own ACA-regulated, government-subsidized health insurance?
Flavelle gets Brase to talk about what a supposedly bad idea health insurance is for her target group. It really doesn’t seem far-fetched to ask whether she subjects herself to the horrors of insurance. Of course, if she does, and if employees of FreedomWorks and the other Obamacare boycott organizers also use health insurance themselves, then we might begin to suspect that this is just a fundraising scam by “political” activists who are willing to raise money off of their irresponsible rhetoric and are actually willing to destroy young conservatives’ lives by encouraging them to make stupid financial choices for the cause.
President Barack Obama and personal aide Reggie Love stand in a hallway of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House after dropping by an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) meeting, Aug. 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Mike Lillis: Pelosi Predicts No Farm Bill By October Deadline
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday she has little faith in Congress to pass a farm bill by the Oct. 1 deadline.”[I'm] not confident, unfortunately,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. The Democratic leader said the news that Republicans want $40 billion cut from the food stamp program would move the House bill so far to the right that a conference with the Senate bill could prove unworkable.
She urged GOP leaders to take the farm bill they passed earlier in the month, which extends current farm policy but doesn’t include food stamp provisions, and send that to the bargaining table with the Senate. “Let’s just go to the table,” she said. “Even with that bill, as horrible as it was, at least it’s a path to the conference table. But to put their members on record as supporting $40 billion in cuts really makes the path back even harder.”
President Barack Obama talks with Members of Congress after signing the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office, Aug. 3, 2010. Participants include, from left, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Nicole Flatow: Slashing Racist Crack Sentences Has Already Saved 16K Prison Years And Half A Billion Dollars
In 2010, Congress mitigated a blight on the U.S. justice system by reducing a racist drug sentencing disparity. Before the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, crack offenses, which disproportionately ensnare African Americans, carried mandatory minimum sentences that were 100 times those for powder cocaine sentences, which are more often doled out to whites. In the compromise measure, Congress reduced that disparity to 18 to 1. While the law initially applied only to future sentences, the U.S. Sentencing Commission opted a year later to apply the new law to sentences retroactively.
Just two years later, the results of the Sentencing Commission’s action have been striking. More than 7,300 inmates convicted of crack offenses have received average 29-month sentence reductions, meaning a total of 16,000 years in prison saved, according to calculations on new U.S. Sentencing Commission data by sentencing expert Doug Berman. These reductions have already saved the Bureau of Prisons half a billion dollars by conservative estimates. That is a big chunk of change for an agency whose total budget is $7 billion, and already exceeds initial Bureau of Prison estimates
Women’s health advocates have fought for over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for more than a decade, and their efforts were finally realized this week. Thursday, August 1 marked the day that pharmacies and grocery stories across the country were supposed to begin stocking Plan B on their shelves, available for purchase without a prescription.
The “Healthcare In Our Hands” campaign is celebrating by encouraging Americans to submit photos of Plan B on pharmacy shelves. On the campaign’s Tumblr page, the photos from states around the country are accompanied by captions like, “Thumbs up for emergency contraception over the counter, and increased access!”
President Barack Obama waits with Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, outside the Oval Office, as they were about to walk to the State Dining Room on Aug. 3, 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Ian Millhiser: Senate Confirms Top Gun Cop For The First Time In American History
By the narrowest of margins — and after a lengthy vote held open due to one senator’s absence — the Senate voted Wednesday evening to break a Republican filibuster of B. Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) crossed over to vote with all 54 Democrats to break the filibuser. Shortly after this vote, Jones was confirmed 53-42 — the first time in American history that an ATF Director has been confirmed.
Prior to 2006, the ATF Director could be appointed directly by the president without going through the Senate confirmation process. That changed after theNational Rifle Association successfully lobbied to insert a provision into a law reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act requiring Senate approval of any such Director.
President Barack Obama greets members of the delegation traveling with Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, during a lunch in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, on Aug. 3, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama has lunch at Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., with staff members who worked on the debt negotiations, Aug. 3, 2011. From left are: Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; and Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)