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Below is the White House pool report about the Obama-Gates-Crowley "beer summit" this evening, submitted by Mimi Hall of USA Today.

It was, alas, only a photo op. The pool had no opportunity to ask questions as we were roped off about 50 feet from the group. The big surprise: Vice President Joe Biden was at the table with the men. POTUS invited him to join the group this afternoon. Clockwise, they sat around the round, white table in this order: Obama, Crowley, Gates, Biden. (editor's correction: Counterclockwise) The men were drinking beer from clear glass mugs and munching on peanuts and pretzels served in small silver bowls. The beers: POTUS: Bud Light VPOTUS: Bucklers Gates: Sam Adams Light Crowley: Blue Moon In the 30 seconds your pool was out there, Sgt. Crowley was doing most of the talking. Gates appeared to be leaning in, listening intently. At one point, POTUS laughed heartily. Gates and Crowley wore dark suits. POTUS and VPOTUS were in white shirts, jackets off. POTUS had his sleeves rolled up. Both Gates and Crowley brought their families to the White House and they toured the East Wing together before the sit-down. Gates brought his kids, fiance and father. Crowley brought his wife and kids. The men met POTUS in the Oval Office before moving out into the Rose Garden. During the sit-down, the family members were given a tour of the West Wing.

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sergeant James Crowley and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates just sat down for their much-anticipated beer in the Rose Garden of the White House.

The "casual" meeting of the President, his old friend "Skip" Gates, and the police officer who arrested him outside of his house on July 16 comes after an entire day of cable news anticipation for the "beer diplomacy summit."

Earlier today, Obama said he's "fascinated with the fascination" over the meeting.

Here's the White House pool report, which includes which beers each man drank.

A web site for the gubernatorial campaign of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) included hidden phrases including "rick perry gay," a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman discovered today.

Hutchison officials said they used a tool that automatically generated keywords based on popular search terms. Such a tool could drive more web traffic to the site,

"We did not know these offensive word associations were being searched for by hundreds of thousands of Texans everyday nor do we condone the computer-generated existence on our Web site," Hutchison spokesman Jeff Sadosky told the Austin American-Statesman. He said the offending phrase will be removed.

Hutchison announced this week she will leave the Senate this fall in order to campaign against Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX). Rumors about Perry's sexuality have been circulated for years.

Despite all the obvious temptations, I haven't written very much about the Republican alternative health care bill, coauthored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). It's always fun--and indeed instructive--to highlight these sorts of policy proposals, and perhaps I'll circle back to it. But right now there's so much news out there about the more serious efforts, and the fate of reform is so uncertain, that there's relatively little time to devote to lampooning the GOP's legislation.

Enter the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. CBPP isn't exactly the sort of organization you think of when you hear the word "lampooning." But it's hard not to read their analysis of the Republican bill and conclude they thought it was all a joke.

You can find the entire report here, but I've summarized it for you in the form of a dialogue between myself and the CBPP's own subtitles.

  • "Plan would significantly erode employer-based coverage"

    Not a bad thing per se but terrible if there's no viable alternative for those who lose their coverage.

  • "Plan Fails to Create a Viable Alternative for People Losing Employer Coverage"

    Ah, I see. Fair enough. But no doubt the market will be there to rescue people, right?

  • "Bill Fails to Institute Needed Market Reforms"

    Eesh. How so?

  • "Optional State Exchanges Would Be Highly Vulnerable to Adverse Selection"

    Meaning what?

  • "Tax Credit and Subsidies Would Be Inadequate to Purchase Comprehensive Coverage"

    Ok...But at least nobody who currently benefits form social insurance would be forced into this system. I'm confident of that.

  • "Tens of Millions of Medicaid Beneficiaries Would Be at Risk of Becoming Uninsured"


Earlier today, I suggested that Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus had, to a great extent, left the fate of health care reform in the hands of a couple very conservative Republicans. Others have noticed, too. According to Roll Call, "One Senate source said [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid told Baucus earlier this week that if the Finance group could not produce an agreement by the end of next week that the Majority Leader's office would likely end up taking over the negotiations."

This has apparently ground negotiations to a halt, at least for today. Soon, though, Baucus and Reid will have to make a decision: humor the Republicans and delay completion of a committee bill until September, or scrap the consensus language and advance a partisan bill.

Unless, of course, Republicans suddenly decide they have no interest in slowing down health care negotiations. Cough. "[Y]es we're being rushed," said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a key conservative negotiator. "It's possible to get it right. It just can't be done by next weekend."

On the campaign trail, Obama boosted his blue collar cred by sharing beer with citizens. Here, he takes a swig at Sharky's in Latrobe, Pa., in March 2008.

Newscom/Rapport Press

The future president toasts the owners and patrons of Bethlehem Beer Works in Bethlehem, Pa., in April 2008.

Newscom/Rapport Press

At the Raleigh Times Bar in Raleigh, N.C., in May 2008.


The president takes a swig while watching the Washington Wizards play the Chicago Bulls in February 2009.

Newscom/UPI Photo

Obama relaxes with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and hall of famer Hank Aaron after throwing the first pitch at the All Star Game in July 2009.


Did Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is now running in 2010 for the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama, violate military regulations when his campaign put up Twitter posts about his active service in the Naval Reserve?

This all started when The Capitol Fax Blog, a well-known state political site in Illinois, reported that Kirk (or his campaign) put up this Twitter post several days ago: "On duty @ the Pentagon's National Military Command Center. All is currently (relatively) quiet. Honor 2 be back w/ my fellow Navy colleagues"

Kirk's campaign now says that Kirk himself did not put up either this Tweet or another one. Instead, they say a staffer posted the pre-approved messages.

Read More →

Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have received subpoenas from a Senate committee that's probing whether they committed fraud in connection to last year's financial collapse, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.).

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Carl Levin, is said to be looking into whether those firms, and perhaps others, had private doubts about the mortgage-backed securities they were putting together, despite their rosy public pronouncements about the complex products.

Read More →

President Obama said today that he's "fascinated with the fascination" about tonight's beers with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley.

"This is not a summit, guys," he told reporters during a press availability after a meeting with Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. "It's just three folks having a drink at the end of the day."

Discussion on cable news about the meeting has accelerated as we approach 6 p.m. ET, when Obama is scheduled to meet Gates and Crowley at a picnic table near the Oval Office. In the past half hour, CNN and MSNBC have both displayed countdown clocks to the meeting.

The campaign Health Care for America Now doesn't like the Blue Dog compromise either--but they aren't drawing a line in the sand about it either.

"The demands made by some Blue Dog Democrats will result in higher costs for families," says HCAN's national campaign director Richard Kirsch.

First, they will weaken the public health insurance option's ability to drive down prices, and second, they will shrink the amount of assistance provided to middle-class families who buy health coverage.

We are confident that the House ultimately will pass legislation that includes a strong public health insurance option that lowers prices and provides financial assistance so that health insurance is truly affordable to all