Say what you will about the long wait times, rampant errors, and frozen screens, the human face of Healthcare.gov is committed to serving its constituency. I’m not talking about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius or CGI Federal executive Cheryl Campbell. No, I’m talking about Liliana, Summer, Patricia, and Erain — some of the customer service reps who handle Healthcare.gov inquiries. I spent four hours chatting with these lovely ladies and other faceless navigators on Wednesday to address common concerns about the decidedly user-un-friendly website. I don’t have any concerns, so I made them up. Here’s what I found.
As coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan, U.S.-funded reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars in far-flung regions of the country will soon be impossible for American officials to safely visit and directly inspect. The planned removal of more than 40,000 troops and the closure of dozens of bases over the next year will shrink the protective umbrella for U.S. officials to keep tabs on construction work, training programs and other initiatives in the corruption-plagued nation. Only about 20 percent of the country will be accessible to U.S. civilian oversight personnel in 2014, according to an analysis conducted by the special inspector general
Mosul, Iraq – How can we live our faith in a time of great difficulty? What can we do for those who are persecuted because of their faith? To ask these questions means above all questioning ourselves about the meaning of our faith. In order to be able to speak about the time of persecution, Christians must really know their own faith. In 2010, when I was appointed Chaldean bishop of Mosul, I knew that I would be coming to a city facing an extremely critical situation with regard to security. Many Christians had already been killed, and many had been
Where is Joe Biden? For 16 days, the federal government was shut down, and yet the White House’s ambassador to the Senate was invisible. ObamaCare rolled out (or rather fell out of bed and somehow got its head stuck in the toilet), and the guy who dubbed it a BFD had not a word to say. Hillary Clinton gave a speech in which she (according to one Republican present) reiterated that she but not Biden had supported the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. Biden said nothing. Oh, sorry, my mistake. Here he is, on Wednesday: Giving a speech. On mental health. At the
President Obama is facing the abyss. It’s that moment when a president’s plans are overwhelmed by his problems, and he’s relegated to playing defense for the rest of his White House term. Obama’s agenda already lingers near death. His poll numbers have slipped to new lows. His speeches are full of alibis and accusations. Obama hasn’t reached the point of no return, but he’s close. His biggest problem is the collapse of Obamacare on its launching pad as the entire country watched. And there’s worse trouble ahead. More likely than not, Obamacare will be the dominant issue in the final
The state insurance exchanges have been the highlight of a so far dismal rollout process for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. When Obamacare´s supporters are challenged on the law´s merits, that’s where they point to show that the new insurance markets can work -- if governors are committed to making them work. But a CBS News report discusses a growing source of disquiet: In almost half the states with exchanges, the overwhelming majority of enrollments are coming from Medicaid, not the new insurance markets -- 87 percent in Washington, 82 percent in Kentucky and, last time I looked,
Berlin - The United States may have bugged Angela Merkel´s phone for more than 10 years, according to a news report on Saturday that also said President Barack Obama told the German leader he would have stopped it happening had he known about it. Germany´s outrage over reports of bugging of Merkel´s phone by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) prompted it to summon the U.S. ambassador this week for the first time in living memory, an unprecedented post-war diplomatic rift. Der Spiegel said Merkel´s mobile telephone had been listed by the NSA´s Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 - marked as
For someone supposedly focused on “climate reality,” it is ironic that little of Al Gore’s advocacy bears any meaningful relationship with the world we actually live in. This point was brought home forcefully in his 24 Hours of Reality — The Cost of Carbon, which was broadcast across the world on October 22-23. Whether it was the science of climate change, climate policy, or the best energy sources to promote in the event of climatic disruption, Gore’s approaches were entirely backwards. On the science, his project is riddled with mistakes. For example, he says that a rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) causes
What did the President know about ObamaCare, and when did he know it? The New York Times raised that question yesterday, offering a video montage of pre-rollout claims about the Healthcare.gov exchange from White House officials, including Barack Obama himself at the Clinton Global Initiative one week before the launch. However, behind those rosy predictions were big red flags being raised — and now the question is whether the White House didn’t see them, didn’t want to see them, or purposely ignored them:(Snip for video)That kind of enthusiasm wasn’t just for public consumption, reports Michael Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg.
Forget everything you have read or seen about the Republicans doomed fight against the president’s signature health care reform law. According to an internal memo from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s office that leaked to the media, the defund Obamacare strategy was a smashing success. The gambit “intensified the nation’s focus on Obamacare.” It “energized Americans by showing there are people in Washington willing to take real action to stop Obamacare.” It “exposed, for all to see, the Democrats’ refusal to compromise out of blind devotion to their extreme liberal agenda,” while Republicans stood firm in their “resolve to defeat Obamacare.” Outside Cruz’s
Authorities say that the operator of a ride that injured five people at the North Carolina State Fair has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Timothy Dwayne Tutterrow, 46, of Quitman, Ga., was arrested Saturday, the fair confirmed in a statement. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that investigators believe that the "Vortex" ride was tampered with and critical safety devices were compromised. Harrison added that more arrests could be made. Officials say that Tutterrow is employed by an independent ride contractor, Family Attractions. The "Vortex" was the only ride the company had at the State Fair,
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- A growing number of military parents want to end the age-old tradition of switching schools for their kids. They´ve embraced homeschooling, and are finding support on bases, which are providing resources for families and opening their doors for home schooling cooperatives and other events. "If there´s a military installation, there´s very likely home-schoolers there if you look," said Nicole McGhee, 31, of Cameron, N.C., a mother of three with a husband stationed at North Carolina´s Fort Bragg who runs a Facebook site on military home schooling. At Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, the library sported special
NEW YORK -- A year after Superstorm Sandy catastrophically flooded hundreds of miles of eastern U.S. coastline, thousands of people still trying to fix their soaked and surf-battered homes are being stymied by bureaucracy, insurance disputes and uncertainty over whether they can even afford to rebuild. Billions of dollars in federal aid appropriated months ago by Congress have yet to reach homeowners who need that money to move on. Many have found flood insurance checks weren´t nearly enough to cover the damage. And worse, new federal rules mean many in high-risk flood zones may have to either jack their houses up on
One of the first hints that Jim DeMint was going to shake up Washington came last winter during an address to fellow conservatives in Dallas. DeMint had just resigned his U.S. Senate seat to take the reins of the previously wonkish Heritage Foundation, a group known for its conservative research papers. [Snip] Woodard recalled hearing DeMint foreshadow a bolder vision for one of the country’s oldest Republican-aligned think tanks. “It was more, ‘We’re not going to sit back and take it anymore,’” Woodard said. “The message was, ‘We need to get more involved.’” Nine months later came the government shutdown
Charles Krauthammer has come to my rescue. You see, I’ve been on the receiving end of some spirited reaction since asserting in last weekend’s column that what we commonly call the Republican establishment — i.e., not all individual Republicans but GOP leadership — “is more sympathetic to Obama’s case for the welfare state than to the Tea Party’s case for limited government and individual liberty.” The statement may have been provocative in the sense of expressing a truth that people on the political Right prefer not to talk about. But it was not controversial because it is indisputably true.
An award offering cash prizes for the best works of art that stir up hatred for the United States has been launched in Iran. The competition, named Marg bar Amrika, which translates to ´Down with America´ or ´Death to America´, has a grand prize of 100million Iranian rial, which equates to £2,500. Held in two parts, the contest invites entries on anti-American subjects including ´Why is the US not reliable´, ´The US and oppression´ and ´The US and global Zionism´. The first part, eligible for the £2,500 prize, is for photographs, posters and cartoons, while the second part, with a
LOS ANGELES — Marcia Wallace, the voice of scoffing schoolteacher Edna Krabappel on "The Simpsons," whose wise-cracking characters on "The Bob Newhart Show" and other prime-time hits endeared her to generations of TV viewers, has died. "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean called said in a statement Saturday that her "irreplaceable character," the fourth-grade teacher who contended with Bart Simpson´s constant antics, would be retired from the show. Wallace was 70. "I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of the passing of the brilliant and gracious Marcia Wallace. She was beloved by all at The Simpsons," Jean said. It´s "a
By the time President Obama acknowledged on Monday that his signature health-care program had serious problems, it was clear that the political stakes had escalated for the White House. And so that evening, Obama gathered some of the top political advisers from his first term for a strategy session on a range of topics. The president himself spent little time on how to handle the political fallout, arguing that fixing the problems of HealthCare.gov, the Web site at the heart of the troubles, would take care of that challenge. Not everyone agreed that it was so simple. In a separate
Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a possible state visit to Egypt in order to take advantage of frayed ties between Washington and Cairo and possibly gain access to Egypt´s Mediterranean ports, The Sunday Times reported. (Snip) According to the Times, Putin is seeking to resume military ties with Egypt in light of the vacuum created by Washington´s decision and fears of a return to the Cold War era rivalry in the region. Among Russia´s motivations, the Times suggests, is access to Egypt´s Mediterranean ports. Russia´s current point of access to the Mediterranean is the Syrian port of Tartus,
For 14 years, the American Legacy Foundation has managed hundreds of millions of dollars drawn from a government settlement with big tobacco companies, priding itself on funding vital health research and telling the unadorned truth about the deadly effects of smoking. Yet the foundation, located just blocks from the White House, was restrained when asked on a federal disclosure form whether it had experienced an embezzlement or other “diversion” of its assets. Legacy officials typed “yes” on Page 6 of their 2011 form and provided a six-line explanation 32 pages later, disclosing that they “became aware” of a diversion “in
RICHMOND, Va. — Will black voters come out for Terry McAuliffe? In an election that polls show is his to lose, one of the last hurdles between the Democrat and the Virginia governorship is making sure African-American voters don’t stay home without President Barack Obama on the Nov. 5 ballot. Turning out party loyalists is critical for candidates of either party in any off-year election, when voter interest tails off dramatically. Republican Ken Cuccinelli has staked what slim chance he has left of an upset on firing up the GOP base. But the challenge is particularly pronounced for McAuliffe and
The Marine Corps has shot down plans to make male and female leathernecks wear a unisex cap with their dress uniforms. The Corps has been redesigning its female caps and was exploring the possibility of issuing a single cap for men and women. As we reported earlier Friday, a survey this week was meant to gauge interest in which of two options would work as a unisex cap—but critics said one new prototype was too feminine. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos has put an end to the matter. “The survey was incorrect when published and has been pulled.
On September 9, 2009, Joe Wilson, Congressman from South Carolina, shouted "You lie!" when President Obama was touting the benefits of his Affordable Care Act, now dubbed "Obamacare." Many in America were shocked that anyone would call the President of the United States a liar in such a forum as a presidential address to a joint session of Congress. But, now, as we look back on 5 years of Barack Obama, we see that Obama and his Administration do lie. And they lie a lot. Both Eric Holder and Barack Obama stated that "Fast and Furious was a program begun
On Friday, the Alabama football program suspended the block seating privileges of 20 student organizations. This just one day after Alabama coach Nick Saban offered these thoughts in criticizing fans who leave games early: “I always say the fans are a part of the team. Everybody else should have the same sort of commitment. You don’t have to do the work all week, you don’t have to practice, you don’t have to come in at 7 in the morning and leave at 11 at night, you don’t have to do any of that stuff. All you have to do is
A Tennessee man was arrested at Kennedy International Airport on Saturday as he was checking in and officers discovered two pistols and two rifles, painted silver and purple, the authorities said.(Snip)But under most circumstances, New York City law prohibits visitors from bringing firearms into the city even if they are legally licensed in the visitors’ home state. This means that while weapons can sometimes be lawfully checked onto a flight destined for New York, gun owners can be arrested if they are caught with the weapons while visiting the city or at city airports when they try to check their