This is what an online health care exchange looks like:
The federal health-exchange marketplace, architecturally, is a mess. That, at least, is the consensus of IT experts explaining to reporters why so few people were able to sign up online for health insurance last week.
- In the Wall Street Journal: “Such a hastily constructed website may not have been able to withstand the online demand last week.”
- On Reuters: “Five outside technology experts interviewed by Reuters, however, say they believe flaws in system architecture, not traffic alone, contributed to the problems.”
- On Wonkblog: “Most of the problems like these are in the software. Hardware is the easy part. You can add more hardware and do it easily. Software takes more time.”
Health and Human Services officials admitted to The Wall Street Journal that the website has coding issues, and that they “can do better and we are working around the clock to do so.”
National Journal‘s Margot Sanger-Katz predicted this outcome. In July, she wrote about the logistical difficulties of opening the exchanges, especially in creating an information hub that ties disparate streams of data from various government agencies. The chart at the top of the page tries to simplify what that looks like.
“In an ideal world,” she reported, “the exchange websites need to be able to talk to several federal agencies — IRS to verify an applicant’s income and employment status, the Department of Homeland Security to determine her citizenship, and the state government to see if she qualifies for Medicaid, to name a few — all in real time.”
She continued: “It is increasingly clear that the kind of Amazon.com, one-stop shopping that was once described … will not be available in most parts of the country.”
Well, Amazon it is not. But time might fix the online marketplace. Speaking to The Switch, an IT expert involved with its implementation said the first rocky week may not be indicative of larger Obamacare infrastructure problems. But if it is, problems could continue to trickle down, for instance, when people get the bills for their new insurance plans.
While the design complexities don’t absolve the administration from blame, they do put the exchange problem in some perspective. If and when healthcare.gov is up and running smoothly, it will be considered an accomplishment of information technology in government, which tends to lag far behind the private sector.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”