ObamaCare: Jest What the Doctor Ordered
If laughter is the best medicine, then ObamaCare's delivering plenty! Everyday Americans may not be benefiting from the new system, but it's certainly been God's gift to late-night comedians. For the past few days, writers have been eating up the government's incompetence, taking rare shots at an administration that, until recently, had been virtually off-limits. Now, the ObamaCare jokes are rolling in, as everyone from Stephen Colbert to Jon Stewart mock the health care system that was supposed to be the President's greatest achievement. With the government's website on the fritz, Jay Leno cracked that a friend of his "was given six months by his doctor -- not to live, to sign up for ObamaCare." And while HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised that the administration is bringing in the "best and brightest" to fix the problems, Leno wondered, "Why didn't we bring in the best and brightest in the first place?"
For now, the networks' monologues are the least of the President's worries. Although HHS is publicly putting on a brave face, privately the agency is hitting the panic button. In an interview with CNN, Sebelius talks about the personal significance of the failure. "This is the most important work I've ever done in my life, delivering on an historic act, making sure that we have health security for millions of Americans," she said. The government could have rolled out a better product, Sebelius insisted, "in five years time -- but we didn't have five years." She's right. They had three -- and most websites don't take nearly that long to build. And in 36 months' time, surely HHS would have extensively tested the system before the launch date -- which, new reports suggest, was not done.
In the days leading up to Healthcare.gov's debut, several contractors pleaded with the administration to postpone enrollment. After the site failed to accommodate even a small number of trial users, they insisted it wasn't ready. Sebelius pulled the trigger anyway. Since then, 20 million people have stopped by the website -- but only 500,000 have managed to created accounts. That's two and a half percent -- hardly the strong showing the administration banked on. And of those, who knows how many successfully enrolled?
Certainly not the public, who has been intentionally kept in the dark by the administration -- which is not only hiding its own numbers, but leaning on insurance companies to do the same. While Sebelius is pushing users to sign up for health care, thousands of Americans are receiving cancellations from the insurance they already have. According to Kaiser Health, insurance companies have sent hundreds of thousands of letters to customers formally dropping their coverage. "The cancellation notices," Kaiser explains, "which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers [who believed] President Barack Obama's promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them." For the unfortunate masses who are losing their insurance, experts say their costs and premiums will only go up. You can't deny the math, the California Association of Health Plans insists, "no matter what people in Washington say."
When and if the other glitches are worked out, the Wall Street Journal wonders if the website will be safe enough to bother with. Some fear the site is a hackers' paradise, with ridiculous security questions that sound more like a personality quiz from Seventeen magazine. Applicants are asked about their childhood superheroes, first kiss, or favorite high school band -- questions that are catching most people off-guard. "To be even moderately secure," says expert Garry Scoville, these Q&As should be safe, stable, and simple -- qualities the current website doesn't possess. It all begs the question: if you can't trust the government to build a simple website, do you really want it overseeing your open heart surgery?
Bases Loaded in Army's Clash against Christianity
How can our soldiers defend Americawhen they're so busy defending themselves? With regularity, new stories break about the incredible pressure our troops are under to disassociate themselves from their conservative and biblical views. Just this afternoon, Fox News's Todd Starnes published an explosive report from Fort Hood, Texas, where new reports of anti-Christian harassment are surfacing from soldiers on the base. During a pre-deployment briefing, base officials warned soldiers that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to America and that "any soldier donating to those groups would be subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice." Pro-life groups, the leaders said, are another example of "radicalization."
Like most people in attendance, one soldier was in complete disbelief at what he was hearing. "My first concern was if I was going to be in trouble going to church. Can I tithe? Can I donate to Christian charities? What if I donate to a politician who's part of the Tea Party movement? I felt like my religious liberties, that I risk my life and sacrifice time away from my family to fight for, were being taken away." So he did what a growing number of service members have done: he reached out to Todd Starnes and spoke up. "To classify the vast majority of the military that claim to be Christian as terrorists is sick," the soldier said.
Of course, the tragic irony is that evangelical Christians are being identified as a "threat" on the same base where a radicalized Muslim soldier gunned down 14 innocent people and injured dozens more in 2009. This community ought to know better than anyone that the terrorists aren't peaceful, faith-loving, patriotic soldiers, but real killers like Nidal Hasan. Not surprisingly, base officials are denying the report. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer Americans are likely to believe them, especially on the heels of Camp Shelby's training session, which lumped our friends at American Family Association with the likes of the offensive and dangerous groups like Westboro Baptist Church, Al-Qaeda, and the Ku Klux Klan.
"How much longer can the Army claim no knowledge or responsibility for these things?" asked Liberty Institute's Michael Berry. Not much, if the response to FRC's petition is any indication. Thousands of outraged Americans are demanding answers from Secretary Chuck Hagel, the one man who can ensure that the military will train our troops -- not push anti-Christian propaganda. If you haven't signed on, click here and add your voice today! Also, if you missed our all-star panel on religious freedom in the military at the Values Voter Summit, check out the video below. The testimonies will surprise you!
Singer Joins ENDA Chorus
If Republicans are too skittish to support same-sex "marriage," GOP donor Paul Singer is asking them to endorse the next best thing: ENDA. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which Congress has debated (and FRC has fought) for two decades, is rearing its ugly head in a behind-the-scenes push that could be religious liberty's undoing. Singer, through his American Unity Fund, is prodding the GOP to give the legislation new legs, despite the devastating consequences.
Like most liberals, Sen. Harry Reid insists the bill is just a simple piece of anti-prejudice legislation, when in fact, the policy would be another government club to beat Christians with. If it passed, wedding photographers, cake makers, and bed and breakfast owners wouldn't be the only ones punished for disagreeing with same-sex "marriage" or homosexuality. Every business owner, regardless of their personal or moral beliefs, would be forced to make employment decisions solely on the basis of a person's sexual preferences. What employees do in their bedrooms would suddenly become the most important consideration in their boss's hiring, firing, or promotion decisions. Although Democrats call it an anti-discrimination measure, ENDA actually encourages discrimination -- against men and women who oppose cross-dressing or blatant homosexuality on the job. If anyone needs workplace protections these days, it's Bible-believing Christians. Under ENDA, their nightmares will only intensify.
To help people understand exactly what's at stake, FRC produced an important documentary that your church, family, and friends need to see. It takes you behind the scenes of communities where laws like ENDA already exist and exposes how destructive the legislation will be, particularly to the faith community. Contact your senators and make it clear that no one who supports free speech and religious liberty can back this proposal -- at least not without significant backlash.
** What's anti-religious extremist Mikey Weinstein up to now? Ken Blackwell explains in his new Townhall.com column, "Mikey's Murfs Strike Again."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.